Many things were going on behind the scenes before and after the ELD mandate rollout. In retrospect, we can better understand the predicaments many find themselves in today.
Read Part 1 here.
Just in the nick of time
With FMCSA delaying, until almost the last day, to explain to the industry how the Data Transfer of logs back to FMCSA would take place, and how that would work for ELD vendors.
This left many ELD vendors, including Fleet Complete’s BigRoad, scrambling to burn the midnight oil trying implement an ELD-compliant method to transfer data to FMCSA.
At the same time, there was a significant sprint to the finish line for all ELD vendors, doing last-minute functional rule testing and get their devices certified on the FMCSA list of approved vendors.
The Inspector would have to determine whether it was AOBRD grandfathered device, or a fully regulated ELD device. Then the inspector would ask the trucker to upload the logs to the FMCSA e-rod site.
When that could not be done, the inspector would warn and/or cite the motor carrier for not having an ELD-compliant device.
The proverbial eleventh hour
This is also happening because of compliance audits, where a government auditor is at a motor carrier’s place of business wanting 30 days of logs out of 6 months. Moreover, the ELD vendors are unable to do that, so there is a process to have ELD vendors decertified and this is taking place as we speak.
This is why we are seeing some big players in the ELD marketplace being taken to task by FMCSA for self-certifying their ELD devices when not compliant.
You can find out who these ELD vendors are by reading the trucking publications in the industry, or going on the FMCSA website.
As you know, the rule was enacted two years ago, but I sensed frustration from industry that FMCSA was not supporting motor carriers, drivers, ELD vendors and the enforcement community until shortly before the December 2018 deadline.
The ability to validate the file transfer was done only just before the stroke of midnight; training for enforcement was left to the last minute.
Again more frustration that FMCSA did not meet expectations on the delivery of some very critical parts of the implementation requirements and other key ELD requirements.
Many stakeholders attended FMCSA town hall meetings asking questions. I personally traveled to Washington to sit on these meetings, but left with only general responses that did not answer the questions in some cases.
50 shades of pain
As many things in life, it’s a problem of many facets and with many participants. Many motor carriers also waited until the last minute and did not give sufficient time for training the drivers.
In addition, motor carriers learned quickly that available parking spots in many truck rest areas were filled by 6 pm. Still, other motor carriers saw examples of shipper apathy to trucker’s new reality with ELD.
It is very disheartening to hear stories about trucking customers kicking drivers off their property, when they made them wait in line for hours to get offloaded in the first place!
Overall, I think it is fair to say that the ELD rollout was challenging on many fronts.
It may sound self-serving, but we at Fleet Complete and BigRoad were sounding the horn months ago for motor carriers to adopt the technology, but it was ignored in many cases. Fleets and drivers that were already using electronic logs when the U.S. ELD mandate came into effect on Dec. 18, 2017 hardly noticed the day flip over on the calendar.
The only exception was when they were changing from AOBRDs to ELD and if they did not take advantage of the 2-year AOBRD grandfather clause.
From an ELD Vendor perspective, there was a mad dash to get all of the orders submitted on behalf of motor carriers before the deadline. At Fleet Complete, it was all hands on deck, working 24/7 to meet this demand.
You would have had to be there to witnesses the beehive of activity at the head office. We had some staff staying overnight at the office to accommodate motor carriers wanting to get the AOBRD grandfather privilege.
There were some reported hiccups with non-functioning devices from a couple of major suppliers, who are competitors to Fleet Complete. These ELD vendors sought and, in most cases, received exemptions by FMCSA from the ELD rulemaking, but with egg on their faces.
One can appreciate the operational challenges for truckers to switch devices. Especially the big players in the industry. FMCSA had little choice but to allow the extension.
There were also some segments of the industry that were petitioning to be exempt from the ELD rules all together.
In some cases, they were successful; in other, they got a temporary relief like the agricultural sector; the majority of sectors did not succeed. Others, such as Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), continue their fight for the ELD exemption status. Those with the benefit of experience had already made the necessary adjustments to their operations to accommodate the hard-stop tracking of drivers’ hours.