New Electronic Logging Devices Rule Could Affect Your Business

On December 16, 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a final rule to require interstate commercial truck and bus companies to use Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) in their vehicles to improve compliance with hours of service (HOS) rules, which restrict the number of hours drivers can operate commercial vehicles.

The ELD rule has four basic provisions that include: 1) the requirement to use ELDs, 2) protections against driver harassment 3) hardware specifications for the devices and 4) establishing new supporting document requirements to reduce paperwork requirements.

Most drivers of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) used as part of a business and involved in interstate commerce are subject to HOS rules if the CMV weighs 10,001 pounds or more or has a gross vehicle weight rating or gross combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more.

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Exclusions to HOS compliance exist for drivers without a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and operating a CMV within 150-mile air radius of the normal reporting location and for drivers without a CDL and operating a CMV within a 100-mile air radius of the normal reporting location.

A driver-salesperson whose total driving does not exceed 40 hours in any period of seven consecutive days is exempt, as is a driver transporting construction materials to or from an active construction site within 50 air miles of the normal reporting location. Even with exemptions, time sheets that show start and end times must be kept.

However, for companies currently required to maintain records of duty status (RODS) paperwork, those truck(s) will need an ELD. For fleets currently maintaining paper logs to document RODS, the deadline to install an ELD is December 16, 2017. Trucks equipped with earlier technology to maintain RODS have until late-2019, two years beyond the compliance date, to either upgrade or purchase new technology to meet the standard.

Drivers operating a truck equipped with an ELD are not required to maintain a paper log; however, they are required to maintain supporting documentation. In addition, all drivers must produce either the display or a printout of a standardized ELD data set when a law enforcement or safety official requests a physical display of the information.

Companies must keep a maximum of eight documents from five categories (schedules, trip records, expense receipts, electronic mobile communications records and payroll) per driver for each 24-hour period. If the driver submits more than eight documents, the first and last documents from that day must be among the eight retained for that day.

FMCSA claims the rule will save $1.1 billion annually—largely by reducing the amount of required paperwork. The Agency estimates that it will likely cost approximately $584 to purchase and install an ELD. In addition to purchase costs, an additional $20 is anticipated for monthly service fees.

The agency estimates that 3 million vehicles are affected by the ELD mandate, and has been especially careful in addressing the harassment of drivers from the mandatory use of ELDs and supporting document retention requirements for HOS compliance, which were the subject of litigation under the prior electronic logging rule.

Originally finalized by FMCSA in April 2010, the ELD rule, which was originally called the electric on-board recorders (EOBR) rule, was designed for truck and bus fleets with a safety history that reflected HOS non-compliance greater than 10 percent of the time. Compliance with the regulation was originally scheduled to take in June 2012.

However, the rule was vacated by a federal court in October 2011. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) argued the rule was arbitrary and capricious and challenged the rule on the grounds that companies might use onboard recorders to harass drivers by pressuring them to drive when they are tired. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit agreed with OOIDA’s driver harassment argument and vacated the regulation.

FMCSA was required to issue a new ELD rule as part of the previous highway bill, MAP-21, and has worked to alleviate concerns related to driver harassment by providing drivers a process to file written complaints, limiting the ability to edit ELD records and preserving original ELD records even when edited.

Compliance with transportation regulations have become a growing concern for lumber dealers in recent years. Businesses that still have questions regarding the ELD requirement and compliance should contact NLBMDA or their state department of transportation for more information.

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