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This December marked the one-year anniversary of the ELD Mandate going into effect, meaning carriers having to use compliant ELD devices or AOBRDS. Although the ELD Final Rule was published in 2015, the phased in compliance still caught the industry off-guard.
 
Over the past 12 months, many trends and challenges emerged. There are also lessons learned that can be applied to December 2019 deadline for replacing all existing AOBRDs with registered ELDs. While still a year out, planning should begin earlier. Here are the main trends we’ve seen:
 
A leveled playing field. Pre-ELDs, smaller carriers often ran more “liberally” with HOS. They often used paper logs, which had a bit more flexibility, and (speaking from personal experience) monitoring and managing compliance often fell to an already-busy office admin or supervisor, meaning audits weren’t top of the list.
 
Now, with the law in effect and technical requirements hard-coded into devices, all companies must operate within the same rules. This means shipping rates – regardless of carrier size – are more consistent.
 
With lack of urgency around initial implementation and training, not all carriers are compliant yet. Many put off research, implementation and training – perhaps awaiting a reversal of the Mandate. We also saw many buy equipment, install and not use it, thinking if they had the device they were compliant. There was also a misinterpretation of HOS rules. Many assumed they’d been operating in compliance for years, but with actual ELD devices found they weren’t interpreting laws as the FMCSA meant them.
 
There’s clear language in the Mandate on training and actual usage, and no longer room for misinterpretation. It’s been a culture shock, to say the least, and we continue to see some of what I describe above. While I believe the industry will adapt to the December 2019 AOBRD phase-out more easily, the runway required for change management is a learning carriers should apply.
 
Change is a constant. In my point of view, now that the government has a foundation and can observe the effects of the Mandate they’ll likely continue adjusting. We already saw this play out with exemptions for UPS, FedEx and tow truck drivers who operate locally or make a lot of stops and for whom ELDs don’t produce the desired effect of preventing fatigue, and the March change allowing the purchase of new AOBRDs even after December 2017.
 
Other possible changes include making the 30-minute rest break possible while still on-duty but waiting to continue driving and expanding the short-haul exemption from 12 to 14 hours on-duty. It will remain key for carriers to keep a finger on the pulse of these.
 
Dissatisfaction and switching ELD solutions growing. Early on, many carriers were scrambling to meet the deadline. Some simply wanted the lowest cost solution. On the other end, vendors saw the Mandate as an opportunity to build a new product, often without previous HOS knowledge.
 
12 months in, it’s become apparent that not all solutions were created equal. Almost any developer can turn the FMCSA’s technical specifications into a software, but it takes another type of provider to build and support it knowledgeably.
 
Through their own experiences and in talking to peers, carriers know when they’re not getting the right level of customer support and training or are experiencing too many product issues. They’ve become more knowledgeable on the market and many are also realizing they want more than just a baseline solution – they also want location tracking, driver messaging and communication, and other features that help them gain operational efficiencies in addition to compliance.
 
This is creating a lot of movement in the market as we move into 2019 – and all of the trends and challenges that have emerged in the past 12 months should be considered as carriers make decisions on how to handle replacing AOBRDS with ELDs ahead of December 2019.
 
To learn more about Teletrac Navman’s ELD and fleet tracking solutions, visit ELD Compliance.  

Oswaldo Flores is a Safety & Compliance Product Manager at Teletrac Navman.

As a former fleet supervisor, Oswaldo has first-hand experience managing drivers and vehicles, ensuring his fleet maintains adherence to all internal and external regulations, policies, and guidelines, including DOT compliance, ANSI/OSHA certifications, and CHP Biennial Inspection of Terminals. Prior to his current position at Teletrac Navman, Oswaldo held fleet and compliance administrative management, fleet supervisory,  sales and business development roles with Pepsi Cola, Time Warner Cable, British Petroleum North America and Legacy Supply Chain Services.