Linxup Blog

7 Steps to Prepare Your Fleet for the FMCSA's ELD Final Rule

By Jessica Stoddard Back to Home on Dec 5, 2016

In December 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published the final electronic logging device (ELD) rule, commonly known as the “ELD mandate”.

When it takes effect in December 2017, the final rule will:

  • Mandate ELD use by all commercial drivers who are required to prepare hours-of-service (HoS) records of duty status (RODS).
  • Establish what supporting documents drivers and carriers must keep.
  • Prohibit harassment of drivers based on ELD data or connected technology such as a fleet management system, and provide recourse for drivers who believe they have been harassed.
  • Set ELD performance and design standards, requiring all ELDs to be certified and registered with the FMCSA.

The key to helping your fleet adopt the new mandate is to begin the process early. This will give you time to work out the kinks of your ELD system and ensure that your drivers fully understand why the new rule exists, including how it can help them cut down on paperwork and time spent manually logging hours of service.

Here's how to get your fleet ready for the ELD mandate:

1. Adopt early

The official deadline for compliance with the new mandate is December 18, 2017. However, if your fleet has previously installed recording devices such as AOBR or ELS devices, you have until December 16, 2019 to make the switch to FMCSA-certified ELD devices.

ELD reports

The sooner you begin implementing the ELD final rule, the more time your fleet will have to adopt and understand the new technology without worrying about government-imposed timelines or penalties.

There are a number of additional benefits to adopting the new ELD technology early, including:

  • Avoiding wait lists in case ELD suppliers are unable to keep up with growing demand as the deadline approaches.
  • Decreasing operating costs, including reduced fuel usage and administrative costs associated with managing paper logs.
  • Increased visibility into up-to-date driver status.
  • Minimized DOT fines associated with missing, incomplete, or inaccurate logs.
  • Better load planning while maintaining compliance with HoS regulations.

Adopting early can also help you minimize losses associated with a temporary reduction in productivity while your drivers and employees adjust to the new rules.

2. Create a detailed plan for implementing the ELD mandate

The new mandate represents a major cultural shift from manually to electronically logging hours of service.

Formalizing a plan for how your business will adopt and execute the new ELD final rule is essential to its successful implementation. Without a formal plan, you run the risk of discouraging driver buy-in while increasing the likelihood of your drivers making avoidable mistakes.

Generate company-wide support for the ELD mandate by assigning a team of representatives from each department in your business to create a plan for how you will implement the final rule. The details of the plan should outline a timeline for implementation, as well as which tasks must be completed and who will be accountable for each task. Involving representatives of your entire workforce and formalizing these details will help keep your implementation on track in terms of budget, time, and resources.

3. Help your employees recognize the benefits of the ELD final rule

Keeping track of hours of service and ensuring they don't exceed daily and weekly time limits is a frustrating task for many drivers. When schedules are tight, electronically logging hours worked can save valuable time, leading to more time on the road and greater operational efficiency.

While there may be pushback from drivers who are unhappy with the final rule, using an electronic logbook will greatly reduce the amount of work drivers need to do to ensure they comply with HoS guidelines. Electronic logbooks can automatically calculate the drive time remaining in a particular shift and alert drivers when they should take a break. They can also advise drivers on how long they have left for a shift reset, as well as if they have worked the weekly maximum of 70 hours, all without requiring manual time tracking.

Here are some more benefits of electronic logging you can share with your drivers:
  • Better dispatch. When dispatchers have accurate, up-to-date information on driver hours and status, fleets can dispatch loads and deliveries more efficiently.
  • Reduced operating costs. The ELD mandate can help fleets reduce operating costs by decreasing fuel usage, reducing truck downtime, and lowering crash rates.
  • Simple regulatory compliance. The ELD mandate makes it easier to comply with other regulations, including IFTA and driver vehicle inspection reports.

4. Find a certified ELD product that works for your fleet

Adopting the ELD mandate early gives you ample time to research and select the best ELD provider for your fleet. You'll also have time to test the ELD and ensure it meets your business's needs.

FMCSA-certified ELDs must adhere to the following guidelines:

  • Restrict input while vehicle is in motion.
  • Ensure protection of personal data.
  • Protect drivers by reducing harassment, such as unwelcome communications during rest periods.
  • Conform with FMCSA standards.

Learn more about how Linxup GPS trackers can help you comply with the ELD mandate.

5. Provide regular training for your drivers

Improperly filled out paperwork, sloppy handwriting, and small mistakes can lead to violations and longer inspections. Providing adequate training before you implement your ELD system, as well as ongoing training after your ELD system is in place, will ensure that your drivers understand the new ELD mandate and that they are complying with it, which can help your business avoid preventable fines and penalties.

Driver schedules can occasionally preclude attendance at training seminars. If this is the case for your fleet, make training materials available to drivers as soon as possible, and make yourself or other members of the implementation team available for follow-up questions.

ELD training should not be one-size-fits-all. Instead, you should strive to develop training sessions that are tailored specifically for different employees, such as compliance managers, drivers, administrative personnel, and other ELD users.

A comprehensive training program should include:

  • Compliance requirements and processes
  • Supporting document requirements & processes
  • How to operate ELDs
  • Proper editing of records
  • ELD data retention
  • Understanding & preventing harassment and coercion
  • ELD troubleshooting/malfunctions

6. Prepare for inspections

Businesses must prepare for two types of inspections: roadside inspections and facility audits.

Driver ELD

It's up to fleet managers and business owners to instruct their drivers on how to provide this information.

During a roadside inspection, inspectors will also look for a certification sticker provided by your ELD manufacturer. Your drivers must also be able to produce the following mandatory items during a roadside inspection:

  • ELD user's manual
  • Instruction sheet for transferring HoS records to safety officials
  • Instruction sheet for reporting ELD malfunctions, as well as recordkeeping procedures during an ELD malfunction
  • A supply of paper tracking forms for at least eight days, for use in the event of an ELD malfunction

During a facility audit, inspectors can request logs dating back up to six months. In this case, you may print the logs out or display them on screen. Inspectors can also request any edits performed on the logs, as well as any supporting documents. Supporting documentation can include:

  • Dispatch records
  • Trip records
  • Expense receipts related to on-duty not driving time
  • Payroll records
  • Settlement sheets, and more

7. Optimize your routes

When you're planning your drivers' routes, build in enough time for your drivers to comply with the new ELD mandate. One effective method for optimizing your routes is to schedule in breaks and break locations so drivers don't have to worry about finding a place to stop and park to meet their time standards.

If your driver will be crossing the border out of the United States and into Canada or Mexico, it's imperative that you pre-plan your route so you maintain compliance with the ELD final rule. Canada has very different rules for hours-of-service, but your driver will be required to comply with American regulations as soon as they re-enter the United States. For example, if a driver has driven 12 hours in Canada and crosses over into the United States, that driver has already exceeded the American 11 hour limit, which puts them in violation of the ELD mandate.

Get ready for the ELD final rule

Don't wait until the December 2017 deadline is looming to begin preparing your fleet and your drivers for the ELD final rule. Adopting early gives you and your drivers time to understand your ELD system and work out any problems before the deadline, helping you to avoid unnecessary penalties.

Learn more about how Linxup can help your fleet meet ELD compliance requirements.

If you're worried about meeting ELD compliance requirements, call us today at 877-732-4980 to talk to an ELD expert. We have an easy solution!