Earlier this month, the federal government passed the long-awaited Final Rule concerning electronic logging devices (ELDs). This rule has been a point of discussion for years and its enforcement marks a watershed moment in transportation. As carriers look for the right ELD system for their business, an important question hovers in the background – what comes next?
The ELD mandate represents the important role technology plays in transportation. Today’s trucks are outfitted with aerodynamic frames, sophisticated braking systems, and now with electronic logs that record driver hours and predict safety behavior. The trend is clear; transportation will harness developments in diverse technological fields to best serve drivers, vehicles and customers. Today, that means ELDs. In 20 years’ time, that could mean self-driving vehicles, a possibility that already has the industry’s attention. Self-driving vehicles will come with a host of laws, regulations, and policies that carriers will have to understand. The compliance system that will come with self-driving vehicles will need to address remote operator fatigue, vehicle refueling, and maintenance. The California Department of Motor Vehicles has already proposed regulations for self-driving vehicles, including a provision that a licensed driver must ride at the wheel. As much as technology advances, it also cycles back on itself – ELDs are an adaptation of traditional paper logs. Self-driving compliance will likely incorporate many aspects of ELDs.
No matter what the future holds for compliance laws and technology, telematics will remain an important piece of the puzzle. Telematics used in tandem with an ELD creates a full picture of a fleet’s operations. Telematics will be crucial with self-driving fleets. These platforms will give carriers control over their vehicles as they operate themselves on the road, both with and without the help of a human passenger. Just as telematics providers have been able to accommodate the need for advances in driver log technology, they will be able to provide systems that help self-driving fleets remain compliant.