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Are you ready for the new ELD rules?

Carriers here in Louisiana are just a few weeks away from the electronic logging device (ELD) compliance date when trucking companies (including specialized carriers, heavy-haul services and crane companies) must comply with new rules on how drivers record the time they spend behind the wheel.

The new federal rule, which goes into effect Dec. 18, requires the installation of ELDs in each vehicle. The ELD will sync with the truck’s engine to automatically record driving time. This is intended to make it easier to track, manage and share “records of duty status” (RODS) data.

While the largest trucking companies in Louisiana and across America support the new ELD rules, smaller owner-operators have come out against the devices. In fact, many small companies say the ELD rules will be bad for business.

In July, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (the FMCSA, which passed the mandate) denied an ELD exemption request from the Pipe Line Contractors Association (PLCA).

The PLCA sought the exemption because its drivers generally operate in short-haul situations. The PLCA contends that ELDs do not offer a safety benefit for pipeline drivers because they are rarely on public roads. PLCA requested the exemption for drivers who normally meet the short-haul exemption requirements, but don’t always return to their work reporting site within 12 hours.

FMCSA officials say they denied the ELD exemption request because the PLCA did not demonstrate how it would maintain the same level of safety without ELDs.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association also petitioned Congress to delay or strike down the mandate for small carriers (including owner-operators). They called the mandate “one of the most expensive federal transportation rulemakings over the last decade,” adding that the new requirements constituted a “massive unfunded mandate that provides no safety, economic or productivity benefits for most ensnared by the mandate.”

Some drivers will be exempted from ELD implementation, however, including those who operate older vehicles and drivers who use paper records of duty status (RODS) for no more than eight days in a 30-day period.

With so many small companies against the new rule, why do supporters think ELD implementation is a good idea?

For one thing, the new rules are meant to discourage fraud. Drivers who are paid by the mile sometimes falsify their logs when they stay on the road longer than the 14-hour limit. The ELDs will replace the paper logs many truck drivers use to record their time and, as such, will be virtually impossible to falsify.

The main selling point, however, has been safety. Supporters say the rule will help create a safer work environment for drivers and those they share the road with by discouraging driver fatigue. The FMCSA claims ELDs will save 26 lives and 562 injuries a year. They also estimate the new rules will save the industry more than $1 billion a year by reducing paperwork.

The American Trucking Associations supports the mandate to require the ELDs, saying the devices will save drivers time because they will spend less time filling out paper logs.

The new regulations will also:

  • Designate performance and design standards for ELD devices;
  • Require ELD suppliers to register with FMCSA;
  • Require drivers operating in interstate commerce who are currently required to prepare a “record of duty status”;
  • Allow two-year grandfather period for companies that have installed and are using automatic onboard recording devices that meet the older Section 395.15 standards;
  • Prohibit companies from using ELD information to force drivers into violating hours-of-service limits.

How You Can Get Ready

The new rules aren’t just for your safety and compliance officer; your company should make sure all drivers, safety personnel, maintenance staff, and operations and dispatch staff read and understand Part 395 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and FMCSA’s ELD “Frequently Asked Questions” document.

Even drivers who have used electronic logging systems for years should get used to the new ELDs. They capture more data, and the rules governing use and data transfer are new. Training is critical and should include the following:

  • How to log in and out;
  • How to change duty status;
  • How to activate special driving categories;
  • What data needs to be manually entered;
  • How law enforcement needs to review your data on request;
  • How to edit the ELD record to correct mistakes;
  • What additional records should be kept to verify ELD record information.

H Brown Is Ready

Ultimately, the new regulations are about safety on the road and at the job site. In the crane, rigging and specialized transportation industry, H Brown knows it’s important to document everything and keep an eye on the details that can lead to big mistakes. This means documenting the hours spent on the road the same way we monitor job site progress and safety.

At H Brown, safety means exercising good judgment, being prepared for unexpected situations, staying alert in the midst of routine and never relying on chance or luck. It also means following the rules every single second, on every single job.

As a safety-driven transportation company, we remain ready and willing to find innovative solutions when your load is crossing multiple jurisdictions. We engineer our equipment to match your needs, procure the necessary permits and escorts, and assign our most skilled drivers to guide your project along the way. We’ll handle your job with a complete understanding of the task at hand and with a plan for every step that must be taken.

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