The mandatory federal regulation requiring trucking companies to install and use electronic logging device (ELD), will start December 18th and construction companies, as much as they might think otherwise, are in the trucking business and some at least, will have to comply as well.

The ELD mandate is put forth to improve safety on the roads. Though the estimated cost is approximately $2 billion, the U.S. Department of Transportation estimates that ELDs will prevent 1,844 crashes, 562 injuries and save 26 lives annually by keeping tired truckers off the road. The ELD mandate did not change federal hours-of-service regulations that limit how much time a trucker can drive, currently limited to 11 hours of daily driving by federal regulation.

The ELD devices put another computer in the cab, linking to a semi truck’s engine, capturing the movement and recording how much time a trucker spends behind the wheel and reporting it back to the trucking company owner.

ELD training of approximately 13,000 commercial vehicle inspectors began late October or early November. The inspectors selected to receive face-to-face training from FMCSA officials will be responsible for passing the knowledge on to their jurisdiction using a “train-the trainer format.”

More than 100 ELD providers have self-certified their products on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) at //csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/ELD/List

If the devices meet the technical specifications issued by FMCSA, the providers are placed on the self-certified list. No devices have been revoked for not meeting the agency’s technical specifications, and no complaints have been filed to date.

Truckers won’t immediately be put out of service or told to stop driving if they don’t comply with the ELD mandate by the December deadline. Instead, the safety agency is allowing a grace period up to April 1 before it begins to apply the out-of-service criteria related to the pending regulation.

However, if stopped for a roadside inspection on or after Dec. 18, truckers without an ELD device will have violation points added to the FMCSA’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability, (CSA), scor-
ing program. The fewer points accrued in the CSA scoring program, the better for drivers and their employers.

Non-compliant drivers also may face fines on or after the Dec. 18 deadline issued by the state enforcement agencies that handle roadside inspections. The fine amounts may vary state to state.

The California Conundrum

How will the new rule affect California construction truckers? Maybe not so much if you operate in a strictly local trade area. The state has not adopted an intrastate rule yet, so according to Lee Brown, executive director of the Western States Trucking Association, who wrote in his association’s September/October magazine:

Fact – Some states have adopted the federal ELD regulations to apply to “intrastate” trucking by reference or legislation, such as Texas. California has not adopted such regulations so far. Drivers
primarily running under the short-haul (100- or 150-air-mile radius) HOS (hours of service) exemptions do not need to use an ELD. But if these drivers do occasionally run outside the radius, they can avoid using an ELD as long as they are not required to keep a logbook or ROD’s for more than 8-days in any 30-day period. We believe that there is a large group of trucks (construction and vocational) that in fact will not have to install ELD’s for their local drivers.

Clearly if you operate outside the specified air-mile radius, you will have to comply with the ELD regulations or start facing fines from the FMCSAthat can go up to $11,000 and knock your truck off the road.

While some trade groups and independent drivers are still fighting the rule it has been up to the U.S. Supreme Court once already and was upheld, and although Congress may try to help, they haven’t been terribly productive on other measures of national importance this year.

Bottom line, make sure where your trucking operations fall in the spectrum of the ELD mandate and if you need help, start checking out the FMCSA’s list of device providers.