The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Rule has caused a stir in the trucking industry, instigating debate and elevating tensions amongst those affected by the new regulations. Adding fuel to the fire, many ELDs are failing to deliver on the promises made by vendors — resulting in hours of service (HOS) discrepancies, unwarranted violations, shipping delays, and other frustrations.

Jumping on the ELD Bandwagon

Part of the problem originates with the sudden emergence of providers without deep and tested industry experience who jumped on the ELD bandwagon. The mandate opened a door of opportunity for tech developers to make a quick profit to meet a sudden demand. But the self-certification process leaves room for vendors who don’t have what it takes to offer a sound product and dependable customer support; their services may not be backed by depth of research, experience, and resources to meet the needs of fleet tracking customers.

After the initial roll out, software was updated to address unanticipated issues and features were adjusted to meet the demands of fleets and their drivers as they raced to comply with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) deadlines.

Despite these growing pains, some of the anticipated challenges of implementation have not come true. Reduction of capacity was expected, but HDT magazine reports it has increased 11% since the ELD Rule went fully into effect April 1, 2018. And while there were dire predictions of a mass exodus of owner-operators, only 2.8% of respondents to a DAT Solutions survey of its carrier customers about ELDs and detention—the majority of which were owner-operators—said they were likely to leave the trucking industry. The FMSCA says the mandate is working and has announced it will be updating compliance progress on a monthly basis.

Making the Right Choice

If you’re amongst the disgruntled who ended up with a product that doesn’t function correctly and a customer service department that doesn’t return calls, the sooner you switch providers the better it will be for your bottom line. Following are some guidelines the FMSCA suggests for choosing the correct ELD solution:

  1. Evaluate new providers and make sure the ELDs you’re considering are on the list of registered products provided by the FMCSA https://eld.fmcsa.dot.gov/List.
  2. Ask the provider to demonstrate features and functions to verify their products comply with FMCSA specifications.
  3. Check with the Better Business Bureau and read online reviews of the company’s products and customer service.

In this case, the old adage is true: you get what you pay for. A solution from a new company offering a single product may help you check off the “my fleet has an ELD” box, but it’s no guarantee that your driver will be found to be in compliance with the ELD Rule — which could lead to a violation, the driver being put out of service, and an FMCSA audit of the entire operation. The route more likely to ensure compliance, return on investment (ROI), and longevity is to invest in a proven fleet tracking solution with a registered ELD.

If you have experienced the consequences associated with choosing the wrong ELD, consider these factors in your next choice:

  1. Reputation: Partner with a company that has a proven track record of success and who is more likely to be around for the long-term to meet the growing needs of your fleet.
  2. Resources: Choose a provider who has the ability to offer the best coverage and solutions and who can afford to keep up with rapidly evolving technology and regulations.
  3. ROI: The right match may cost more up front, but reliability in products, training, customer service, and innovations will pay off in the long run. For the best ROI, invest in an ELD that is part of an integrated tracking solution to address all the challenges of managing a fleet in today’s tech-savvy market.

The sooner you replace a noncompliant or inefficient ELD, the sooner you will be able to alleviate the burden of paperwork from your drivers, increase HOS accuracy, speed up roadside inspections, keep central databases accurate and up-to-date — and most importantly avoid violations, fines, and the possibility of drivers being put out of service.