The final compliance deadline for the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate is set for Dec. 16, 2019. This deadline comes four years after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published the final version of the ELD mandate and two years after the safety mandate’s original compliance deadline of Dec. 18, 2017.
ELDs are electronic devices that log commercial truckers’ hours for when they are driving, on-duty but not driving and resting. Before the implementation of ELDs, many truckers used paper logs, which allowed them to falsify records and violate public safety hours-of-service (HOS) regulations. While many truckers have criticized the ELD mandate since its implementation, a 2014 FMCSA study found that carriers who already had ELDs in place before the mandate saw a 50% reduction in HOS violations and a 12% reduction in crash rates.
Motor carriers that required its drivers to use AOBRDs, or automatic on-board recording devices, were granted an additional two years to comply with the ELD mandate. Essentially, AOBRDs is a simpler version of ELDs with looser technical specifications. With the upcoming final deadline, fleets using AOBRDs must swap them out for fully regulation-compliant ELDs.
Dec. 16 is considered the hard deadline, and truckers should not anticipate any additional extensions. Speaking at a conference in late October, FMCSA head of enforcement Joe DeLorenzo stated that “it is not going to get extended past December”, adding that “everyone has to be prepared.” Any driver caught using a non-compliant ELD or AOBRD will be placed out-of-service for at least 10 hours. If that driver is dispatched again before installing an authorized ELD, the driver and carrier may face further penalties. ELD violation fines can range from $1,000 to $10,000, with the North American Transportation Association reporting an average fine of $2,867 in 2018.
ELD violations also affect carriers’ and driver’s CSA Scores, which are used by the FMCSA to identify high-risk drivers and fleets. The score is based on a number of data points, including but not limited to violations identified in roadside inspections (e.g., failure to comply with the ELD mandate, vehicle maintenance issues, etc.) and the severity, frequency and timing of state-reported crashes. In other words, failing to comply with the ELD mandate can have hard-hitting, long-lasting consequences for fleets and their drivers.
Ultimately, the cost to comply with the ELD mandate is minimal compared to the fines and penalties associated with non-compliance. With that being said, trucking fleets not yet in compliance with the mandate must work quickly to install ELDs, or risk facing the consequences of failing to do so.
Michael Leizerman is a truck accident attorney specializing in catastrophic multi-axle collisions. He understands all facets of truck accident litigation; including federal regulations, drug and alcohol testing and hours of service requirements. He has authored a treatise entitled Litigating Truck Accident Cases and often educates other attorneys on trucking laws and regulations. You can learn more about Leizerman & Associates by visiting their website, www.truckaccidents.com.