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Decision 2015: buyers guide for expected e-log mandate

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Updated Feb 4, 2015

PeopleNet_TABLET_Incab_eLogsScreen_062013Electronic logging devices (ELDs) are on track to becoming the new standard for all 3.4 million commercial drivers who are required by law to keep a record of duty status. By Sept. 30, 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration plans to issue a final rule to mandate their use.

This should come as no surprise. In 2010, the agency published the original mandate (395.16) which was vacated by a federal court on the basis that fleet managers could use the technology, called electronic onboard recorders (EOBRs) in the rule, to micromanage or “harass” drivers.

The agency addressed this and other issues in a new ELD rule proposal in March, 2014. Once the agency publishes the final version, presumably by September, enforcement of the mandate will begin two years later.

During this two-year timeframe, all logging devices in the market will have to be updated from the current 395.15 rule that was written many years ago for “automatic onboard recording” devices. Suppliers expect the new ELD standard will only require software updates which they can push out to devices over the air. This process could take more than 12 months to complete, however.

This delay will compress the timetable for fleets that have not implemented electronic logs yet, but only if they wait until after the final ELD rule is published to get started. If you already use 395.15-compliant devices, you’ll have an extra two years to meet the compliance deadline — by late 2019 at the earliest.

At any rate, it is probably safe to assume that all electronic logging devices will be upfitted to the ELD standard in the next two years. Will it really matter what product you choose between now and then? If compliance is your only consideration, maybe not. If your goal is to maximize the return on your dollars, then differences among products do matter.

Below are five criteria for evaluating ELDs ahead of the expected 2015 mandate; choose one to get started. When electronic logging software and devices are mentioned by name, click to see how the products stand up to real-world evaluations in CCJ Reader Reviews.

1. Adaptability>>

The new ELD rule will put greater responsibility on drivers to certify the accuracy of their logs. What products will best fulfill the need to capture duty-status information from drivers, inside and outside the vehicle?

2. Maximizing payback>>

Electronic logs may not deliver enough savings to justify the cost of hardware and software. What other options should you consider to increase the return on investment?

3. Bulletproof compliance>>

Fleet managers may need more than applications to capture logbook data. Some products include robust compliance management tools.

4. Automated workflow>>

A distinct feature offered by some platforms is to have electronic logging functions embedded within the driver workflow. This gives fleets visibility to more than duty-status information.

5. Future integration>>

When choosing an ELD, it is important to consider future technology you will want to include in the vehicle to improve safety and compliance.