Many fleet owners are in the same position, the setup they have been using for years is not going to be legal after the end of next year and are looking at what their options are. Making the change from older style AOBRD to the new ELD may seem like a leap, but most people find it is more of a step if you know what the changes mean for your drivers.
The differences between the systems are fewer than you might imagine and it really is the details that can cause most of your pains.
Find a registered ELD
Manufacturers of ELD systems will be listed on the FMCSA site and indicate they are self-certified as being compliant with the law. There is some limited oversight to ensure these devices are working as they should, however, the responsibility lies with the manufacturer. So choosing a less expensive solution might save a few dollars, it could cause you headaches down the road if it doesn't work like you think it will.
Investigate product support
Usually, a good indicator of how good a product will be to use and live with can be determined by the support offered by the manufacturer. Make sure these line up with your expectations. Do you need a 24x7 number you can call or are you more of a do-it-yourselfer? What training is offered for your drivers? How are you going to get this information to your drivers and keep them informed of changes in the law? If you can check off the boxes that make you feel comfortable using the equipment every day, that is a good indication of a fit.
Train yourself and your drivers
Regardless of what the vendor offers you in terms of training, your drivers will be looking to you when there is an issue. Learning the subtle differences between the old and new system will help get everyone up to speed quicker rather than having drivers try to figure it out for themselves.
Drivers need to know:
- What system they are using (ELD or AOBRD)
- How to use the system
- How to transfer logs (eRODS) during an inspection
- Local Transfer (USB cable, Bluetooth, etc.)
- Web Services (Wirelessly)
- Have the proper documentation requirements
- AOBRD - Quick Reference Card
- ELD - Full User Manual
- Backup paper logs
Set your policies
After you have a plan in place, you will want to set up your drivers in the new system and need to be aware of the new duty status options for Yard Moves (YM) and Personal Conveyance (PC), which need to be enabled by you in order for drivers to take advantage of them.
Allows drivers to select this while they are on private property and will automatically switch to driving after 20MPH or if the truck leaves its geofence and this varies by the ELD manufacturer as to which method they use.
When enabled, this status allows the driver to move the truck to a safe area if they run out of driving hours, even while ladened as long as it doesn't advance the load. So yes, they can park at the next rest stop and don't need to stop in the middle of the road if they are out of hours if PC is used and a note is made on their logs.
PC can also be used if a safety officer instructs the driver to move the truck while in Sleeper Berth (SB) without breaking SB, again add a remark to your log indicating what happened.
Another change from AOBRD systems is how malfunctions are handled, if there are too many connection issues between the ELD and the truck's engine computer, it will warn you about the malfunction. If enough malfunctions are generated, this will cause the ELD to no longer function as it should and needs to be addressed within 8 days. This means you should think about what your plan is when an ELD stops functioning normally. Sometimes it is handy to have a spare unit or two for such an occasion while the malfunctioning unit is sent back for repair.
If the driver is having issues with their ELD, it is a good idea to develop a procedure how to continue driving without the ELD. This means re-creating the previous 8 days worth of logs and can be done on paper or by having someone in your office send the driver digital files (PDFs) of the previous logs and continue to use paper logs until the ELD is repaired or replaced.
Setup Exempt Drivers
With ELD, every time the truck is moved it needs to be associated with a driver so it can be attached to their logs. This might mean you will want to set up a few exempt drivers like mechanics and technicians that need to move the truck when it is around the shop. Adding these ELD-exempt drivers and having them login when they are moving the truck will eliminate unclaimed record issues.
Audits with eRODS
The way you transfer data under ELD is a little different during an audit. All the eRODS data will be transferred digitally directly to the DOT, similar to the roadside inspection method for all data required. Sometimes this can be done by the fleet administrator, however, the ELD vendor might have to help get the data to the DOT eRODS system.
The right mindset can help when you are making the move from AOBRD to ELD. Try to view it as an opportunity to improve your operations versus a challenge. The new technology required in ELD means you can get more out of your system than just hours of service compliance. Many systems allow for things like pro-active maintenance, real-time location, and dispatch of drivers, safety scorecards to spot potential issues and routing and navigation. Using these systems to your advantage to reduce downtime and have your drivers spend less time filling out paperwork. So when you are looking at and ELD system for your fleet, ask the manufacturer what else they can do to help your operations besides the logs.