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Why And How To Implement ELDs Into Your Trucking Fleet

By December 18, 2017, all fleets will need to have implemented certified electronic logging devices (ELDs) in order to remain compliant with the FMCSA’s ELD mandate. Not only are all fleets—small and large alike—mandated to use ELD tech, but also these devices are proven safer and more cost-effective than other forms of tracking and logging.

ELDs are the future of the trucking industry, and it’s crunch time to get onboard. Unless you have a “grandfathered” AOBRD—in which case you have until December 2019 to ensure compliance—you need to start implementing ELDs to your truck fleet right now.

ELD 101

The Paper Log

The FMCSA has strict rules and regulations about trucking hours of service. This limits the number of hours a driver can drive in a day or week to ensure safety for everyone on the roads. Paper logs can easily be manipulated and falsified to appear to meet regulations. In practice, managers can “force” their drivers to over-drive as a way of cutting down transit times. They can then change around the logs to seem to meet hours of service compliance. This increases the number of tired and fatigued truck drivers, putting the lives of everyone on the road at a severe risk.

Driver fatigue and drowsy driving is one of the main causes of trucking accidents on the road. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 100,000 reported crashes are a direct result of driver fatigue, resulting in over 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries, and $12.5 billion in losses.

Interestingly, a study by the University of Pennsylvania found that 28% of commercial truck drivers have mild to severe sleep apnea. Sleep apnea causes excessive daytime sleepiness, irritability, depression, disturbed sleep, and concentration problems—all of which can be incredibly dangerous on the road. In fact, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that drivers who sleep 6 hours or less in a 24-hour period are twice as likely to crash as drivers who sleep 7 hours or more.

Electronic Logs

ELD DEviceELDs originally stepped on the scene as a way to overcome this dangerous paper log manipulation. ELDs are devices that electronically record a driver’s Record of Duty Stats (RODS). They help maintain compliance with regards to Hours of Service (HOS) by automating and streamlining the logging process in a more efficient and trustworthy way. They are tamper-resistant, so they eliminate the potential concerns of falsifying logs. Thus, ELDs can ensure legal compliance, lower driver fatigue, minimize road accidents, and improve road safety.

Now, ELDs have become more than just electronic logbooks. Though ELDs are not a new introduction to the trucking market, their extensive range of tracking and analysis features has grown exponentially in the past several years. Today’s ELDs will track everything from hours driven to truck statistics to driver habits. Some are so advanced that they can analyze driver patterns to optimize drive time while still maintaining a safe drive-to-sleep ration. ELDs can even warn drivers when they’re about to commit a poor behavior, like working overtime or idling for too long.

ELD Benefits

Aside from requirement, why should you implement ELDs? What will these devices do for your fleet? ELDs:

  1. Save time by reducing paperwork
  2. Keep dispatcher up-to-date on driver status in real time
  3. Discourage over-driving or fatigued driving
  4. Enhance trucking safety
  5. Reduce fuel costs by tracking gas, idle time, etc.
  6. Minimize labor costs by tracking on-the-clock drivers to the minute, rather than rounding to an increment on paper logs
  7. Have an easier retrieval of information for law enforcement
  8. Have improved data tracking and analysis
  9. Reduce insurance costs due to lowered crash rate and risk

ELDs can streamline your overall operations if used correctly. These devices can provide immense insights about your fleet that can help you correct driver behaviors, reduce costs, minimize administrative burdens, and automate the day-to-day tasks of trucking. Overall, ELDs can and will improve your bottom line.

With the cut off for ELD compliance upon us, what can you do to successfully and compliantly implement electronic logging devices on your business’s trucking fleet? 

Find the Right ELD Provider

Choosing the ELD for your trucks is critical towards success and implementation. Firstly, you want a stable vendor or provider who will be able to provide for you years in the future. You don’t want to choose an ELD provider that will be out of business in two years, leaving you with another round of implementation time and costs.

Secondly, you want an ELD with a number of features and insights. Some features to keep an eye out for when shopping for an ELD provider:

• Vehicle diagnostics
• Idle-time tracking
• GPS tracking
• Log auditing
• Messaging/communication
• IFTA reporting
• Driver report cards
• Connectivity in real-time
• Easy-to-use interface for drivers
• Safety features

You’ll also want to consider ELD providers based on certifications of compliance, customer service, and price.

Elect ELD Implementation Leaders

Choose individuals who will lead the implementation. As with any organizational change, it’s important to have leaders that employees can look to for help, advice, and guidance. These leaders become the point person and the “face of ELDs.” Their job is to continuously manage the change before, during, and after implementation. Building implementation from the top-down ensures the smoothest cultural change throughout the company.

Create Policies and Procedures

Just as your company has regulations and procedures for paper logs, you want to create the same sorts of standards for ELDs. Even though ELDs are automated, they still require intimate interaction with the driver. You want to ensure that your company lays out the policies and procedures for use of these ELDs. This includes formally answering the questions:

• >What will you require of drivers?
• How will this change drivers’ and dispatchers’ drive descriptions?
• How will you audit?
• What are the consequences for falsifying or tampering with an ELD (or attempting to)?
• What is the procedure if a device breaks down on the road?
• What will be the process for technology updates?

This could also be a good opportunity to outline the goals of the ELD. What does your business hope to gain from these ELDs? Are you hoping to reduce the number of accidents on the road? Are you looking to reduce fuel costs? Setting specific goals will help set the direction for implementation, training, and use.

Train Your Drivers

Drivers will work with the ELDs every day, so you want to provide thorough and comprehensive training. Don’t just send an email that details the changes and rules of the ELD. Connect with each individual in-person, whether one-on-one with mentors or through training sessions. Create a forum for questions and answers.

In training, be sure to discuss the benefits of ELDs. Discuss how it will cut down on their driving time and protect their safety on the road. Discuss how it will track their habits so they can become more efficient drivers. You may also want to discuss driver rights and how their driving information is used. Some drivers are hesitant to accept ELDs because they feel “Big Brother is watching.” This is not the case with ELDs; only the dispatcher can see the information unless they authorize that specific log to the government (in the same way they would with paper logs). Make this distinction clear so drivers feel more protected and secure.

Give It Time

Implementing ELDs can be a lengthy process. This involves not only a physical installation but also training sessions and learning curves of employees. This can take weeks or months, even for small fleets. Moreover, it’s not uncommon to see a dip in productivity during the implementation of change. People are still getting used to these new systems, and they’ll spend time learning the system rather than driving. But give it time—in just a few months, productivity will start to skyrocket.

Implementation takes time. Start implementing now to make sure you’re compliant by December 18. With strong change management and training, your business will show robust benefits from ELDs in terms of cost, productivity, and safety.

Contact LTX Solutions today to learn more about implementing ELDs, increasing your efficiency, and lowering costs.

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