Last month, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s proposed electronic log mandate took another key step forward towards becoming part of the regulations. The proposal still faces it’s comment period and potential legal challenges before it would become finalized.
Still, this 256-page proposal marks a big change in one of trucking’s older “traditions” — moving from paper log books with their “flexibility” to smudge the lines to electronic devices that demand absolutes from drivers.
A recent article published at truckinginfo.com (click HERE) summarizes the current proposal’s status:
The agency will take comments on the proposal until about mid-May. After it reviews the comments and publishes a final rule, perhaps later this year, carriers will have two years to comply. Carriers that already have recording devices that meet current specifications would have an additional two years to bring their devices into compliance with the new specifications.
The rule will apply to drivers who have to prepare paper logs. Drivers who don’t have to prepare logs may use the electronic devices but won’t have to. Drivers who use timecards will not have to use the devices. And drivers who use logs intermittently can stick with paper logs unless they use them more than eight days in 30 days.
Of course there are many technical details to be addressed:
The technical specifications spell out how ELDs should work.
The basic requirement is that the device record specific information – date, time, location, engine hours, mileage and driver, vehicle and carrier identification – and make it available to inspectors.
The driver must be identified by his full license number and the state where his license is issued.
The device has to be synchronized with the engine to record on/off status, the truck’s motion, mileage and engine hours.
The device will have to automatically record a driver’s change of duty and hourly status while the truck is moving. It also must track engine on/off, and the beginning and end of personal use or yard moves.
The agency is proposing that the devices use automatic positioning services: either the satellite-based Global Positioning System, land-based systems, or both.
Many carriers now have onboard information systems that warn the driver when he’s approaching his hourly limits, but the agency is not requiring that capability in its proposal.
The devices won’t have to print out the log, but may have that feature as an option. They will have to produce a graph grid of a driver’s daily duty status, either on a digital display unit or on a printout. This is the first time the agency has proposed using a printer, and it’s looking for comments on the costs and benefits of that approach.
If your fleet may be subject to this proposal, and you’re not sure where to start to learn about your options, costs and benefits. SafetyFirst can help. We work with multiple hardware providers and have found a wide range in costs for similar systems.
Depending on your fleet’s specific operations, you may want to install a more robust offering at higher cost, but for many fleets a basic, proven system is also available that increases productivity, reduces fuel costs, addresses key safety issues and handles the compliance portion in an easy to understand interface.