Facts About the ELD Mandate

The ELD final rule was published in 2015 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) with an initial compliance deadline of December 2017 for those still using paper logbooks, and December 2019 for those with non-compliant electronic logging devices.

The rule applies to millions of trucks and other motor carrier vehicle drivers on the road today, with a lot of others working to achieve compliance soon. The trucking community needs to be kept up-to-date on the latest developments about the ELD mandate.

What is ELD in Trucking?

Transportation is not the only field that uses the ELD acronym. In education, ELD stands for English Language Development, but ELD in trucking means Electronic Logging Device. It is a device and a service that automatically logs the HOS (Hours of Service) records of operators of commercial ground vehicles (with some exemptions).

Orbcomm ELD Device

You must be ELD compliant if you hold a CDL (commercial driver’s license) and operate a commercial moto carrier (including buses). Drivers that fall into this category are required to keep RODS (Record of Duty Status, which ELD device does automatically.

There are numerous performance and technical requirements of the new ELD mandate law. The electronic logging device must meet specific requirements like:

  • The ability to sync to the vehicle’s engine computer to log any movement of the truck and other data.
  • Allow driver inputs to select their status (On-Duty, Off-duty, or On-Duty Not Driving). The device must be capable of selecting driving periods based on the movement of the vehicle.
  • Display graphic RODS information on a screen so drivers can instantly know their HOS status.
  • The device must be capable of transmitting data to law enforcement via methods like telematics (web transfer) or locally via a USB or Bluetooth connection.
  • Must be certified by the manufacturer as meeting the specifications outlined by the ELD rule.

The Cost of a Compliant Electronic logging Device

Electronic logging devices are not a new concept. The trucking industry has been using these devices for years, so the FMCSA considered the cost of already existing devices to outline what drivers should expect ELD-mandate-compliant devices to cost.

Drivers should expect ELDs to cost about $160 to $900 per annum on average. The most popular ELD device in the trucking community costs $490 per year per truck at the time of this article.

Manufacturers and providers are bringing new and cheaper ELD-Mandate-compliant fleet management systems to the market that help lower the cost. The FMCSA believes that ELDs deliver a long-term savings benefit to drivers and fleet owners that far outstrip the cost of the devices.

Operators concerned about cost can use smartphone and tablet compliant ELDs to reduce their initial costs. Operators of all sizes can expect to see an immediate return on their investments with this type of device. Drivers can also untether the device to analyze a slew of information like their driving style.

The estimate from the FMCSA puts the total annual cost of the ELD mandate at $975 million. This estimate includes the cost of devices and services for fleet owners and drivers, inspector equipment, and the cost of training drivers and inspections.

However, there’s also an extra $604 million budget to cater for the additional number of drivers and commercial motor vehicles needed to comply with Hours of Service (HOS) requirements.

In all, the trucking industry is expected to save about $1.6 billion per year in reduced paperwork requirements and an additional $400 million in reduced crashes due to the adoption of ELDs.

Owners of electronic logging devices purchased prior to 2018, like grandfathered AOBRDs (Automatic On-Board Recording Devices), were allowed to keep using their devices until the end of 2019.

How ELDs Save Money and Time For The Trucking Industry

ELDs reduce the need for paperwork, which saves money and time. Drivers do not need to waste time filling logbooks, and fleet owners spend less time processing those paper works. ELDs also provide other information like driving style and routing solutions that can help operators save on fuel and run their operation more efficiently.

The FMCSA estimates that using ELDs could the following paperwork savings per year per driver in your fleet:

  • $490 in savings per driver from not having to fill RODS
  • $56 in savings per driver from not having to submit RODS
  • $120 in savings from clerks not having to file RODS
  • $42 savings per driver from not having to buy paper logbooks.

This rather reserved estimate could save you at least $708 per year from paperwork alone. The FMCSA gets these estimates by considering the average time drivers spend filling and filing their RODS each year. They estimate that using ELDs could save more than 20 hours per driver per year in time spent using paper logbooks. This could translate to more than $2,000 per year in lost revenue per driver for fleet operators.

ELDs can also help drivers gain an extra 15 minutes of driving time per day. And more aggressive estimates, including savings from avoiding potential penalties from making mistakes on paper logs, predict even higher savings for fleet owners and drivers.

There are additional potential savings from crash reduction and a reduction in insurance costs.

Other Benefits from using ELD Mandate compliant fleet management systems

The above benefits only apply to the ELD side of a typical fleet management system (FMS). There’s much more to FMS than just logging HOS. These other features help owners and drivers save more money and run their operations more efficiently. Some of these benefits include:

  • Savings on Fuel: The FMS can log events like engine idle time, speeding, and braking. Fleet owners can use this data to develop a strategy to help drivers drive more efficiently and use less fuel.
  • Better Load Scheduling: FMS with ELD rule compliance can provide load dispatchers with up to the minute update on driver availability, which can translate into better load scheduling and reduced downtime.
  • Reduced Cases of Accidents: Research suggests that drivers of vehicles fitted with electronic logging devices had a significantly reduced rate of crashes than those without the devices. This can deliver savings in the form of lower repair costs and potentially lower insurance costs.
  • Better Compliance of Regulations: The devices make it easier to comply with the ELD Mandate and other regulations like DVIR (Driver Vehicle Inspection Report), and the International Fuel Tax Agreement.

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