5 common ELD mandate myths debunked.

blue truck on road

The FMCSA’s ELD mandate will go into full effect by the end of 2017, which means all trucks that aren’t currently complying with the new law will soon have to ditch the paper logs and start using the new electronic logging devices (ELD). However, the new ELD mandate has been met with a mixed reaction from the trucking industry.

With so much “he said, she said” going on, it’s tough to make heads or tails of the whole situation. Let’s take a closer look at five of the most popular myths, as we separate fact from fiction.

 

Myth #1: The ELD mandate doesn’t improve safety

Fact: It’s true that the ELD doesn’t control the trucks speed or dictate when to change lanes. They do however, have the ability to keep the drivers safer by informing both the driver and the dispatcher just how much time they have left behind the wheel for the day. A recent report from the FMCSA found that commercial truck drivers who were using ELDs had a significantly lower crash rate (11.7% lower) along with a much lower preventable crash rate (5.1% lower) than trucks who were using paper logs. The new ELD mandate is expected to not only save valuable time and money, but also prevent an estimated 26 deaths per year.

 

Myth #2: ELDs are too expensive

Fact: This might be the most common myth or misconception floating around. It stems from the fact that many existing electronic logging devices are expensive, but due to advancements in the field of trucking technology, the cost of these devices has dropped significantly. Many ELD manufacturers are actually offering the devices at a reduced and economical rate. 

The FMCSA estimates that the ELD mandate will save each truck driver around 20 hours of time used to fill out and send paper logs per year. Additionally, by ditching the paper trail, each driver is set to save each driver an extra $705 per year. ELDs also benefit fleet management system users, as vehicle downtime will see a decrease of 15% and improved utilization by 13%.

Take into account the overall operational costs in the trucking industry and ELDs are a relatively cost-efficient option. Likewise, when you account for crash rates, hours of service (HOS) violations and various penalties, having an ELD in place can help avoid these issues while saving you precious time from managing paper logs. 

 

Myth #3: ELDs automatically report any HOS violations

Fact: An ELD is connected to the engine of the truck in order to track its movement, but at no time does it ever send the data it collects to any law enforcement agencies or potential inspectors. The benefit of this is that since ELDs are replacing paper logs, roadside inspections will move along much faster. Inspection officers will be able to see areas of concern and verify HOS regulations with just a glance, meaning truck drivers can get back on the road quicker than ever. For those who still don’t feel at ease, there are ELDs in place that will warn drivers before they encounter any violations.

 

Myth #4: Big Brother is watching you

Fact: Many truck drivers are claiming the new ELDs are an invasion of privacy, citing that it monitors their location. However, the truth is, the only people who are authorized to view this data are employees of the trucking company and only do so in order to accurately locate the general whereabouts of the trucks location. It’s completely understandable that truck drivers do not want to be closely watched, which is why the ELD mandate also includes a privacy provision to provide drivers with peace of mind. When a driver is using their vehicle for personal use, location data is only available within a ten-mile radius. 

 

Myth #5: Drivers can use their smartphone instead of an ELD

Fact: This is true to an extent. A smartphone can be used when paired with an ELD, but having a smartphone alone cannot be used in place of an ELD. The ELD mandate requires a device to be “integrally synchronized” with the truck’s engine to meet the required standards. So, while a smartphone does have GPS capability, it cannot accurately track the exact number of miles traveled. The FMCSA determines what devices can officially be certified and what can’t. Collecting GPS data from a smartphone is inconclusive and can cause problems in the event that an audit or inspection is needed.

 

Final thoughts.

A change like this can be challenging for the trucking industry. However, the FMCSA did an extensive amount of research before implementing the new ELD mandate. Their conclusive data proved that the decision to adhere to these new regulations would benefit the entire industry. As we’ve already seen, those who have begun to accept this new ELD technology have refused to return to the old system of paper logs – a feeling that many believe those who yet to adopt ELDs will feel soon enough.

 

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