By: ABA Media
Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) are the law. State and regional motorcoach conferences in Atlanta and Greenville, S.C., both held roundtable discussions this summer on what operators and suppliers have learned from the installation and training process.
The Insider asked participants to share what they’ve learned about ELDs. Here is what they had to say:
“Now that Dec. 18, 2017, and April 1, 2018, have passed, the realities of ELDs are starting to show themselves. Recent discussions in several state and regional motorcoach associations have seen operators and ELD providers asking and answering some key questions. Here are four of them:
1. Do I have an ELD or not? “ELD” has become a very generic term in the industry. Many operators believe that if they have some type of electronic device for their drivers to operate, then they have an ELD. This is not entirely true. Operators may use an Automatic On Board Recording Device (AOBRD) through Dec. 16, 2019. After that date, all operators must be fully ELD functional.
2. How can I tell what I have? First, ask your provider and see if you have an AOBRD or ELD. If your device can electronically transmit logs to a law enforcement official, then it is safe to say you have an ELD.
3. What do I need to convert from AOBRD to ELD? Check with your provider; some may require a hardware update and all will require a software update. There should be minimal driver training to do, and don’t forget to update the onboard documents required for a roadside inspection.
4. What are the key differences between AOBRD and ELD? There are two major differences in the transition from AOBRD to ELD. The first is the data transfer from the vehicle during a roadside inspection to a law enforcement official as well as from an office computer to a law enforcement official during a compliance review. The other difference is accounting for unassigned driving or movement of a vehicle. This happens when a vehicle is moving and the vehicle does not know to whom to attribute those miles and minutes on a driver log.”
—Mike McDonal, Director of Regulatory Compliance
“I find the system we have now to be very user friendly. The system helps me and the operators manage our time more efficiently with data captured by the ELD. The system I previously used would put the operator on ‘driving’ while he or she was in a hotel asleep. With our current system, we have had problems with drivers not signing off completely and also with drivers logging back on a minute before their eight hours off is over, causing them to be out of compliance. With all that being said, the ELD system is a device that makes life easier for both operator and owner.”
—Greg Wynn, Operations and Quality Control Manager
“One of the most important takeaways from the Georgia, Alabama, and South Central roundtable, which featured two operators and two ELD providers, was that while there is all this talk about how everybody has to use ELDs, this new technology didn’t change the rule. It just changed how a driver must account for his or her hours. If your company is running within the legal limits, then ELDs shouldn’t be a big problem for you, but if your drivers were fudging their log books, then ELDs are going to be a problem. There’s no fudge factor with ELDs.
“Another big takeaway is that given the number of carriers regulated by FMCSA, passenger operators amount to less than half of a percent of all regulated carriers. Motorcoach operators really need to make sure that the ELD provider they use understands their needs as a passenger transportation operator. At the conference, I heard a lot of ‘We’re on our second or third ELD provider because the first one we used didn’t know anything about the passenger transportation business.’ There are probably fewer than a handful of ELD suppliers who specialize in passenger transportation. Know who you are dealing with.
“A third point is that technology is going to change every day. If you’re going to wait for the next best widget to come out, the truth is it has already come out, so don’t get hung up waiting for the ‘latest and greatest’ new technology. Keep in mind that your younger drivers are going to embrace it faster because they’re more used to technology.
“My company insures all kinds of vehicles. I have yet to hear anyone who has done ELD training and now uses ELDs regularly who would go back to paper logs. After that initial training period, ELDs are easier, faster, and more user-friendly. To be clear, I talk to a lot of people—not one would go back.
“My final thought is this: My company wants all operators to stay safe and also to be aware that an ELD is another potential distraction for the driver. Be aware of that and stay safe out there!”
—Michelle Wiltgen, Assistant Vice President
National Interstate Insurance Co.
“Transitioning from AOBRDs to ELDs will require additional driver training. With ELD software, even the shortest movements will trigger driving events that must be assigned or annotated if no active driver is found. With ELDs, driving events are no longer editable. If a driving event has mistakes, then it must be annotated by the driver and cannot be changed or deleted.
“We continue to add functionality to our product. Soon we will enable drivers to edit their logs using the in-cab device. Drivers can now view and edit logs using their own private web portal and can change duty status when away from a vehicle using this same site. Real-time alerts can remind office administrators, dispatchers, and maintenance personnel when a driver is approaching drive-time limits and when reporting defects during inspections. Integration with Hours of Service and Driver Vehicle Inspection Report data can be shared with third-party software.”
—John Gaither, ELD Product Specialist
GPS Insight LLC
Blowing Rock, N.C.