Some fleet management teams are still pondering when to invest in electronic logging devices. With multiple, complex issues facing all aspects of fleet management from hauling freight to honing financials, the question being pondered is not so much whether required ELD is coming, but when it will be mandatory. Fleets with tight capital budgets may be reluctant to make the investment in this technology just yet.
What Ever Happened to ‘Be Prepared’?
Back in the days when typewriters were leading-edge technology, nearly every boy wanted to be a Boy Scout. Boy Scout or not, every boy knew that the Boy Scout motto was “Be prepared.” Speaking of technology, IBM (the typewriter techs) also had a motto. It was, and still is, “Think.” The two go hand-in-hand because preparation requires disciplined thinking.
Thomas J. Watson could have said, “Outthink,” but he did not. He probably had a good reason. Outthinking is synonymous with outwitting, implying being clever enough to attain or avoid something commonly deemed necessary. It is a reasonable certainty that some of the reluctance of fleet management teams results from trying to outthink rather than think and be prepared.
This is not your grandfather’s truck.
What Ever Happened to the ELD Mandate?
The move for an ELD mandate began back in 2012 when Congress passed MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century). The statute included a requirement that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration enact a rule mandating the use of electronic logging devices on truck fleets. That mandate was published in December 2015.
The simplest explanation of the mandate is two-fold:
- All fleets have until December 2017 to implement certified ELDs to record Hours of Service.
- Fleets already equipped with electronic logging technology will have until December 2019 to ensure compliance with the published specifications.
That is two years for fleets without any ELDs and an additional two years for fleets already using ELDs to ensure that the ones they are using are compliant with federal regulations. It is obvious that Congress took into consideration that some fleets had already spent a considerable amount of CAPEX adding ELDs to their vehicles. The grace period allows for an additional two years of depreciation on the accounting side.
The mandate is still in place. The timeline has not been amended or revised. So why did a “September 2016 survey reveal that:
- 38 percent of small carriers have not begun to use ELDs in their vehicles, and
- 33 percent do not have ELDs fully integrated into their fleets.
Things are changing in the truck cab.
What Ever Happened to Thoughtful Preparation?
At the time of this writing, December 2017 is just around the corner. It appears that there is a lot of work yet to be done. What is it that is making some fleet management teams reluctant to act?
The big excuse is the change in the control of the White House and Congress. President Trump ran on a platform of change. (So did President Obama. You remember – Hope and Change.) There are those who hope that “change” will include amending or rescinding the ELD Mandate. It is not the purpose of this article to engage in that debate. The point is, as stated earlier, that it is best to be prepared. That is precisely the recommendation here.
Some companies, such as Conway, began installing ELDs on feet vehicles as prior to 2013, which is at least a partial indication that larger fleets see the advantages of ELDs despite some misgivings within their own ranks and the ranks of others.
Aside from the financial issue of the capital expenditure, some fleet management teams are concerned that they may lose some drivers, if for no other reason than the knowledge that logged HOS have been trending downward in cases where ELDs have been implemented.
THINK – If implementing ELDs reduces hours of service previously logged, what is the problem? The problem is that some drivers have not been entirely accurate in keeping their logbooks.
PREPARE for the inevitable – With each day that passes, the likelihood of changes to the mandate decreases. Even if revisions are made, that does not mean that the implementation dates will be altered.
The question remains, “Is your fleet management team ready?”