As the compliance date of the ELD mandate approaches closer, carriers without ELDs might all flock to ELD vendors at the eleventh hour.
This simultaneous purchase of ELDs would result in an increased demand for the product — translating into higher prices as well as unavailability of the electronic logging devices.
To avoid being caught up in the consequences of acquiring ELDs at the last minute, carriers are recommended to implement ELDs now.
Getting ELDs at the Eleventh Hour
There are less than 3 months left before the ELD mandate takes effect.
However, despite the ever-growing deadline, a lot of carriers have yet to implement ELDs. A recent study by Transplace shows that 67% of small fleets and 19% of large fleets have yet to fully integrate ELDs into their fleet operations.
The fact that these carriers haven’t installed ELDs can be quite concerning for them.
At the eleventh hour, carriers without ELDs would simultaneously try to purchase the devices for their respective fleets. Because of the high demand of ELDs, two things could happen — either ELD stocks would run out, or ELD prices would soar sky high.
Of course, both scenarios would be troublesome for carriers.
Carriers who could have gotten these devices at a reasonable price would then have to either pay hefty amounts to have them or risk ceasing their operations due to noncompliance.
The Importance of Planning Ahead
Joe DeLorenzo, director of FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration), believes that the ELD mandate would transition smoothly if carriers would avoid procrastinating.
He emphasized that by planning ahead, fleets can identify possible issues that can disrupt their operations. According to Joe, his biggest concern is regarding short-haul drivers. He said:
“The one [area] that I’m most concerned about is the 8-day rule. Because the 8-day rule is the one where you can’t be figuring this out on the seventh day in any 30-day period and finding out that this is going to be a problem.”
He explained why the eight-day-rule could be a problem for fleets who lack preparation.
“That’s what happens a lot: ‘my driver went down sick for a couple of days, and now, suddenly, I’m going to be losing this exception, and that [other] driver is going to need an ELD’. Then you have to got to go back, and you have got to enter all that information into the ELD so the driver can use it, and then it’s just a lot more work for everyone.”
He then presents how planning ahead could solve this problem.
“I don’t think I can stress that enough — thinking ahead and figuring out what you as a carrier are really going to need in terms of those exceptions is going to be really important.”
Other Consequences of Procrastinating
Asides from the availability issues of ELDs, carriers could also experience other challenges if they implement ELDs at the last moment.
These consequences can prove to be disruptive to their operations as compared to how smooth their transition would have been if they bought ELDs earlier.
Following are some of the other issues that carriers may face:
The lack of training periods
Drivers can be overwhelmed if ELDs were introduced to them just a day before the start of the compliance date.
Some drivers might be coming from a mindset where they do not approve of ELDs. Others might be completely oblivious to what an ELD is and how to use the device.
Requiring drivers to master a device that’s new to them just days before it has been installed in their vehicles will not sit well with them. They can easily interpret the act as harsh and unfair, which can easily lead to the company having driver retention problems if not dealt with accordingly.
That’s why it’s important to purchase the ELDs ahead of time. That way, drivers can have the time and opportunity to get along with the device.
They can test ELDs while on the road, learn its ins and outs, and see how much they can benefit from these electronic logging devices.
At the same time, fleet managers would also need a bit of time to adjust and understand the nitty-gritty details of using ELDs. Implementing ELDs at the last moment will not give you enough time to conduct necessary training sessions.
Not enough time to screen ELD vendors
Purchasing ELDs right before the deadline robs carriers of the opportunity to carefully screen every vendor that they come across.
Due to time constraints, carriers who wait until the last minute to transition to ELDs are more likely go to any random ELD vendor to buy ELDs.
The problem is that most vendors have lock-in contracts that force trucking companies to use their devices for several years.
If their ELD system proves to be flawed or lacking in features, carriers are forced to endure the limitations of the device for the contract duration.
Also, if the ELDs of these vendors turn out to be noncompliant, companies have to stall operations while looking for a replacement ELD solution.
These points are just some of the potential problems that carriers would have to face should they decide to comply with the ELD rule at the last minute. The impact of facing these consequences can be costly, frustrating, and debilitating to the point where it can disrupt operations.
On the flip side of the coin, however, if you get ELDs right now, you can enjoy its multiple benefits today.
Benefits of Implementing ELDs Today
One of the reasons why carriers choose to procrastinate in transitioning to ELDs is they don’t see its real value.
A common misconception is that ELDs are tools that are meant only for compliance and nothing more. Truckers and fleet managers don’t often see the added benefits of using ELDs that extend beyond complying with the FMCSA regulations.
Here are three crucial benefits that ELDs can offer to trucking companies apart from helping them with their ELD mandate compliance.
1. VEHICLE DIAGNOSTICS
ELDs are connected to the vehicle’s ECM (Engine Control Module) diagnostic port.
This connection allows ELDs to detect problems — such as low tire pressure or excessive engine heat — and can relay this valuable information to managers.
This automated system of fault code alerts eliminate the need of constant physical inspection. Also, maintenance can be done before it gets worse.
2. IDLE TIME TRACKING
Because ELDs are connected to the vehicle’s ECM, these devices are able to collect, measure, and interpret the performance data of trucks.
For one thing, it can measure for how long drivers idle vehicles.
Idling is a big issue for carriers because statistics show that vehicles, during idling, can burn up to a gallon of fuel per hour. With ELDs, however, the idle time of all drivers are recorded and sent to a dashboard where fleet managers can review the data.
This information can be used to identify drivers who idle for too long and too frequently.
3. DRIVER SCORECARDS
ELDs also have the ability to measure vehicle speed, movement, and sudden motion changes. With this ability, ELDs can be used to measure driver safety performance while on the road.
ELDs can monitor sudden accelerations, hard braking, speeding, and sharp turns.
These measurements can then be analyzed and sent to the ELD dashboard for the fleet manager to review. In their web dashboard, the fleet manager can see a computed driver safety performance score that shows how safe the trip was.
Managers can use this data to pinpoint high-risk drivers and coach them before they get into an accident.
Of course, these are just some of the many benefits that carriers can get out of using ELDs. There are several ELD benefits that carriers, drivers, and fleet managers can enjoy.
Nothing good awaits carriers who transition to ELDs at the last minute.
Not only will they have to contend with all the frustrations and headaches of having to rush their transition (especially the ones that we pointed out), but they’d also end up missing out on the benefits that ELDs can bring to the table.
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