The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is not likely to mandate electronic logging devices (ELDs) until next fall, and even then carriers will have two to four years to come into compliance, depending on their current technology. However, many carriers are shifting to ELDs already, in part to give themselves plenty of time to explore options, and in part because of the advantages ELDs bring in terms of safety and fuel efficiency.
The whole point of an ELD is, of course, to improve compliance with Hours of Service regulations. The new rule will specify devices that record the truck’s movement directly, instead of relying on the driver’s accuracy. But because the new ELDs are connected to the truck’s engine, they allow fleet managers to better assess a driver's performance.
More information translates into more cost-effective business and safer driving.
The key is to not simply invest in ELD technology but to think carefully about what kind information the company needs and how it is going to analyze that information and make use of the results. Not all ELDs are the same and no ELD can do much good if the company does not know how to use the data it supplies. When buying ELDs, it is important ask a couple of basic questions, both of the sales staff and of one’s own company.
For example, questions for the manufacturer include: exactly what kind of GPS tracking data does a given model collect? Is it user-friendly? How much of this information-gathering feature can be automated? How can the ELDs interact with other safety technologies?
Within the company it is important to ask (and answer) how the information will be shared and how it will be used in supervising and training scenarios and well as safety documentation.
Carriers that successfully integrate ELDS into their practices can expect to see driver performance improve dramatically. Better driving means less wear and tear on the vehicles, a modest by very real reduction in fuel costs, and a dramatic reduction in accident-related costs. Most importantly, it means fewer accidents and fewer injured employees and members of the general public.
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