Why Waiting to Implement Electronic Logging Devices Hurts Your Business

Fred Fakkema, VP of Compliance, Zonar By Fred Fakkema
VP of Compliance, Zonar
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According to the world's leading experts, there are three types of procrastinators:

Thrill-seekers, who wait to the last minute for a euphoric rush; avoiders, who may be avoiding fear of failure or even fear of success; and decisional procrastinators, who basically cannot make a decision.

Regardless of which category you may fall into, if you have yet to make an action plan to implement the technology required to meet the new FMCSA Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate, it’s time to get on board and here’s why:

The ELD Mandate isn’t going away.

Many small carriers thought it was prudent to wait until the lawsuit was decided. As of October 31, 2016, the Federal mandate was upheld unanimously by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. (However, the exception of installing a less-restrictive Automatic Onboard Recording Device (AOBRD) to extend ELD compliance until December 2019 still stands.)

Avoidance only puts your business further behind the competition.

In a recent survey of 2,000 fleet owners by Transplace, a North American transportation management services company:

  • 81% of large fleets with more than 250 trucks reported that they had achieved full ELD implementation, with the remaining 19% currently working towards implementation.
  • However, small fleets of less than 250 trucks have been much slower to integrate ELDs, with only 33% having fully integrated ELD devices into their fleet.
  • Another 29% have begun the implementation process, while the remaining 38% stated they have no immediate plans to begin implementation.

Installing electronic logs improve results over time.

  1. Since the final AOBRD rule being published in 1988, there is a long track record of enhanced driver satisfaction once electronic logs are installed. Understandably, drivers can expect an initial decrease of productivity while getting used to the change, but once fully integrated, productivity increases and most drivers say they never want paper again.
  2. Avoiding HOS violations is key to a low Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) score. The vast majority of HOS violations are "form and manner" (a driver's clerical work), likely because they are very easy for law enforcement to spot. That goes away with an electronic log.

    Bob Laumann, safety compliance manager for Brigham City, Utah-based Smoot Brothers Transportation, explains that since moving to an AOBRD solution, the fleet's HOS-related safety score has dramatically improved: "In the first six months, it dropped from 90 to below the non-compliance threshold. In one year, it dropped all the way from 90 to 45."

    The fleet has seen a dramatic drop in the average number of HOS and vehicle-inspection violations incurred by company drivers. Before an electronic solution was put in service, it wasn't uncommon for drivers to be issued several violations each month. Starting in the first six months, that number has dropped to nearly zero. "We anticipate seeing our score really start dropping as the point values for violations issued to drivers several months ago start to fall," Laumann stated in truckinginfo.com.
  3. Operational costs and business efficiency outcomes will take hold. Eliminating paper logs yields an increase in efficiency—the large carriers have proved it. Drivers no longer need to sit on the roadside or at the terminal working on their logs—they are rolling. More drive time equals more miles, which is more money for the driver if paid by the mile.

The laws of supply and demand are real.

All carriers subject to the ELD mandate are required to have either an ELD or an AOBRD-compliant solution installed and functioning as of December 18, 2017. That's a lot of trucks rushing to meeting the deadline in a very short time, dependent on a fairly defined set of vendors. It will take significant time and due diligence to select, order, install, and train drivers, dispatch, and back-office operations. Not waiting until the last minute ensures you will be toward the front of the line and better able to dictate the timing that works best for your business.

Bumps in the road are a given.

Considering commonplace distractions during a major transition process, it's very clear—time is of the essence. Even the most optimistic of plans need to contemplate timing hurdles associated with rolling out new technology during holiday seasons or installation across disparate geographical locations.

"We moved forward early so we'd have time to implement the system's range of capabilities, which include engine diagnostics and trip reports," said Josh Lacy, director of operations at a Gering, Nebraska-based fleet, in Transport Topics. "We're still learning," Lacy said four or five months after all of the units had been installed. "It's not something that just happens overnight." (Read the full article here)

Steer clear of industry turmoil.

Once these considerations are accepted, you can plot the least disruptive course to embrace change. Electronic logs are coming. Yet, the FMCSA initial procedures regarding self-certification, registration, and test-case process—and for that matter, the rule itself—have caused a ripple of disruption. Commercial assets with a singular or combined gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 will be affected. Law enforcement will need extensive training on ELD data transfer and the laws associated with non-compliance also.

It's undeniably prudent to initiate compliance with the existing and well-established AOBRD that meets the requirements of 49 CFR 395.15. AOBRD devices have a solid track record and will be significantly less disruptive for fleets rushing to meet the FMCSA deadline.

Complying with the widely adopted current AOBRD industry standard extends the ELD deadline for two years and provides time to get used to electronic logs and to put a solid ELD roll-out plan in place by December 2019.

Let us help with the transition

Zonar has dedicated compliance experts on staff that can help you move to a solution that stretches beyond just a compliant Hours of Service product. As a trusted partner, we’ll help you see a greater return on investment including enhanced safety, increased uptime for trucks, decreased fuel costs and improved reporting accuracy.

Zonar's newly announced ELD Transition Services Package is ideal for customers seeking peace of mind with the uncertainty of the Federal Motor Carrier Association’s (FMSCA) upcoming implementation of the ELD mandate. Find out more.

Have Questions?
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White Paper: ELD Mandate Summary
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Electronic Logging Devices Summary of Regulatory Mandate Rule
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