One small fleet just bought this 1988 Kenworth cabover, once featured as a trucking mag centerfold, because it is exempt from the ELD mandate.

One small fleet just bought this 1988 Kenworth cabover, once featured as a trucking mag centerfold, because it is exempt from the ELD mandate.

It’s been a little over a month since the electronic logging device mandate went into effect, and the transition appears to be a bit bumpy. It’s a good thing CVSA and FMCSA delayed out-of-service orders or CSA points till April 1, but fines are still a possibility in some areas – and frustration is a certainty in many.

FMCSA has been granting waivers, exemptions and delays to various fleets and specialty groups to help them through the transition.

For instance, Old Dominion Freight Line and other PeopleNet customers got a 90-day grace period to help with their transition. ODFL been running the company’s AOBRDs since 2011, but needed some time to deal with back-office issues relating to grandfathered AOBRDs and new ELDs.

As PeopleNet explained, the reason behind the waiver was to address a portion of the grandfather clause, which states that if a fleet were to add any trucks between now and 2019, they must use an ELD, not an AOBRD. 

The waiver gives PeopleNet customers who integrate their existing AOBRDs to fleet management and safety systems until March 18, 2018, to continue to install ELD-compatible devices running AOBRD software on any truck added to their fleet. This helps customers avoid a scenario of a “mixed fleet” – consisting of both AOBRDs and ELDs –which can pose safety and operational challenges, both for drivers as well as critical back-office integrations.

ELD confusion and frustration

J.J. Keller, meanwhile, reports confusion during roadside inspections about whether devices are ELDs or AOBRDs, and either failure of devices to transfer HOS data to enforcement or officers expecting AOBRDs to transfer data, which they aren’t required to do.

And in fact, a recent post on Facebook’s ELD or Me group by a driver showed a citation for “operating with a device that is not registered with FMCSA; ELD unable to transmitted [sic] logs- ELD unable to email or up load logs to FMCSA.” The driver says he is using a grandfathered Garmin AOBRD.

Based on anecdotal reports and off-the-record comments, some ELD providers’ help desks were overwhelmed by all the questions and difficulties users were having. While many were user error or confusion rather than any problem with the devices themselves, it still meant a lot of frustrated users.

An eight-truck flatbed fleet owner told me their biggest problem has been poor connectivity between its tablets and the cloud-based app. “Even from major truck stops in big cities when our device is showing 2 or 3 bars.”

Some drivers are outright refusing to comply. If you check out the ELD or Me group on Facebook, drivers are traveling back roads to avoid weigh stations and inspections. One driver who called me said ELDs are literally the devil’s work – that the prince of darkness himself will use them (along with computers and the Internet; wonder if he was calling me on a smartphone?) to control those left behind after the rapture. I guess some of them are still hoping for a last-minute reprieve before out-of-service and CSA point penalties go into effect April 1. If they don’t get it, I expect some will exit the business at that point. So we likely haven’t seen the full effect of the driver shortage yet.

One small fleet's ELD experience

Wade Haught, president of LTG Transportation, a small fleet of four owner-operator trucks, shared with me via e-mail last month his frustrating experience in trying to get ELDs.

“We were already using a company called National Fleet Tracking to do GPS tracking of our tractors and trailers in our heavy haul operation. This was good for tracking as well as fuel tax reporting. We went with National Fleet Tracking for our ELDs also. The first time they shipped the units to us, they had to recall them because of a software problem. The second time they shipped the units to us, they had to recall them because of a hardware problem. We finally got the third set of units a week before the deadline, only to discover that they also were being recalled. Turns out the manufacturer could not produce working units and did not know when it would be able to do so, even though they were on the federal list of approved units. National Fleet Tracking apologized and suggested that we obtain ELDs from another provider.”

So they scrambled and ordered four units from KeepTruckin. They were still waiting for them when the deadline came, so I followed up with Haught this week. One driver has installed the new ELD and has been using it without any issues. A second driver sold his 2011 Peterbilt and will soon start driving a 1988 Kenworth K100 cabover, exempt from the ELD regs, leased to him by the fleet owner. A third driver has his ELD with him but has no plans to install it until full enforcement begins in the spring. And Haught himself?

“I drive the fourth truck, which is a 2012 Volvo that I have had completely rebuilt. Even though the dealer did all of the work at great expense and it is all under warranty, they cannot keep the truck running and it has been in the shop since early December. When it eventually comes out of the shop, I will probably sell it and purchase an older tractor to avoid the ELD requirement – AND to have a reliable tractor. If I cannot find an acceptable older truck, then I will go purchase a new Peterbilt and install the ELD.”

Why the new Pete? Because he can drive it faster. In fact I’m hearing from a number of smaller operators that they’re upping their speed to compensate for lost productivity.

“My general impression is that we and many other owner-operators will change our driving strategy from fuel conservation to high speed driving and raise our rates,” Haught told me. And another, larger fleet I talked with said they were raising the limit on their governed trucks by a few mph.

It’s the law of unintended consequences. If the ELD mandate results in higher truck speeds across the board, will we see FMCSA revisit the idea of mandatory speed limiters? Will truckers turning to older trucks to gain exemptions derail progress toward cutting greenhouse gas emissions? Stay tuned.

Updated 1/31/2018 to add clarification from PeopleNet on the temporary exemption issued for ODFL and other customers.

Note: CVSA last month put out an ELD bulletin for enforcement officials. It includes a table showing the driver’s and officer’s responsibilities for transferring records of duty status (hours of service/logbook) data during an inspection. You'll find it at http://cvsa.org/wp-content/uploads/Inspection-Bulletin-2017-05-Handheld-and-ELDs.pdf

Author

Deborah Lockridge
Deborah Lockridge

Deborah Lockridge

Reporting on trucking since 1990, Deborah is known for her award-winning magazine editorials and in-depth features on diverse issues, from the driver shortage to maintenance to rapidly changing technology. 28 Jesse H. Neal honors.

View Bio

Reporting on trucking since 1990, Deborah is known for her award-winning magazine editorials and in-depth features on diverse issues, from the driver shortage to maintenance to rapidly changing technology. 28 Jesse H. Neal honors.

View Bio
0 Comments