We are in the midst of a big change, as approximately three million truck drivers will be moving into the electronic age. That is, they will be replacing their traditional paper driving logs, that old standby, with electronic logging devices (ELD). While there are some exceptions, the final deadline for full compliance is Dec. 16, 2019.
These devices are capable of logging the driver’s activities almost automatically, meaning drivers would no longer have to make the effort to manually enter the details of their haul into paper logs.
Under requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the ELD must connect with the engine so it can record when the truck is in motion. Drivers must also log in and indicate whether they are on-duty. Additionally, it must display a Record of Duty Status so a driver can easily determine how many hours were spent on the road and how many are left. Some devices are adaptable, so drivers can complete their logging activities on their smart phones and tablets.
The intent of the new rules is to reduce the number of fatigued drivers on the road. By the FMCSA’s estimates, there will be 26 lives spared and 562 fewer injuries every year. The records produced by an ELD would give drivers and carriers more incentive to stay within the hours of service, because inspectors and law enforcement could identify violations far more easily. While the FMCSA insists no one would be monitoring these devices, carriers could be fined up to $11,000 for harassing a driver into driving beyond their hours of service or compelling a driver to get behind the wheel when he or she is fatigued.
Who has access to the data in these logs? Beyond the carrier, only inspectors and law enforcement can examine the data. If the rig were involved in a collision, for example, law enforcement would request the driver to provide the data from the ELD, usually accomplished with a transfer of the information by email or USB file.
Paper logs make it difficult to determine whether reported service hours are a true reflection of the driver’s time on the road. However, that can substantiated with other records, such as paper receipts from gas stations, tollbooths, restaurants, and any other electronic data that might be collected on devices. It's hard to predict if the new rules will truly keep fatigued drivers off the road, but it’s easy to see how the data collected by ELDs would make spotting an hours of service violation that much less labor intensive for inspectors and law enforcement.
What are your thoughts on ELDs?