Friday, August 18, 2017

US Truckers Must be Ready for Electronic Data Logging in Cabs by December

Finally Technology Takes its Place Following Federal Mandate
Shipping News Feature
US – The truck driving community is about to witness a revolution with the compulsory advent of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) to monitor the times and distances which trucks, and their drivers, cover in a working week. The path to modern technology has been a long and painful one with many in the road haulage sector fighting against the 'spy in the cab', yet when tachograph technology was introduced to the UK when ordered under an EEC regulation in 1985, most drivers subsequently welcomed the fact it ensured they could not be asked to work excessive hours by unscrupulous bosses. 

For a country which prides itself for being ‘first and fastest’ the US has lagged behind in this for many years (the devices were first invented in 1844 for rail traffic, were made compulsory on German lorries in 1952 and have been upgraded ever since). Whilst European drivers moved with the times their US colleagues hung on grimly to paper Hours of Service books. Now the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) electronic logging device (ELD) mandate, as part of MAP-21, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act signed off by President Obama in 2015, will eliminate these and leap ahead with a modern recording system.

On 18 December 2017 commercial drivers must be in compliance with Phase 2 of the rule regarding the use of ELDs to record and keep hours of service logs in the vehicle. There are certain exemptions, if a truck was manufactured pre-2000 or if a commercial driving licence holder only operates within 100 miles of their starting point (150 miles for non CDL holders), but generally anyone operating a vehicle in which it is currently necessary to record hours of service on a paper graph will need to be ELD compliant.

The ELDs can be considered as the ‘next step’ in tachograph technology. The device must be a model registered on the FMCSA database and, when installed and matched with the software on a laptop, tablet or smartphone, it synchronises with the vehicles engine and automatically records the driver’s hours of service.

As well as recording and transmitting engine functions the mileage is logged and the driver then adds in journey details including trailer numbers, shipping documents etc. all of which then becomes visible to the FMCSA inspector. Failure of a device will not be an excuse as the mandatory use instructions insist blank paper graphs are carried in the cab along with the comprehensive ELD user manual.

The FMCSA has been very specific when it comes to the treatment of commercial drivers. The carrying company must ensure all its drivers ELDs are registered and there are stiff penalties for companies which interfere with ELD records or do not ensure drivers stick to the rules, and for anyone who coerces or harasses a driver to work in a way which means they are having to offend. This also means that they cannot disturb the driver when he or she is sleeping.

The December 2017 date represents Phase 2 of the mandatory introduction of ELDs, the ‘In Compliance’ phase, requiring carriers subject to the rule to use the devices with existing automatic on board recording devices (AOBRDs) i.e. those fitted before 18 December 2017, self-certified and registered with the FMCSA and shown on that approved list.

The third phase is full compliance, which means that all drivers and carriers subject to the rule must use the self-certified models currently shown on the FMCSA list. The FMCSA points out that because a device is on their list that does not mean it carries their endorsement. As, at the time of writing, there are 94 models shown by the FMCSA, carriers should have no trouble obtaining a suitable model and we are obliged to Track Your Truck for their recent update in providing information for this article.

Photo: Courtesy of Magellan gps.