The requirements and standards of the ELD mandate are more detailed than previous regulations, demanding more from fleet owners and managers -- and requiring increased awareness from commercial drivers. As part of the transition plan for full ELD compliance, the mandate allows for a transition period for older recording devices. These ‘grandfathered’ automatic on-board recording devices (AOBRDs) must be replaced before the extended deadline date. The steps below will help commercial fleets make the transition from AOBRD to ELD as smoothly and effectively as possible.
Step 1: Initial Fleet Assessment
Before anything else, fleet companies need to analyze their current fleet situation to be able to develop a transition strategy. It’s particularly important for them to know the exact recording system in use for every driver required to keep a record of driving status. Drivers employing AOBRDs will need to be transitioned to ELDs prior to the ‘grandfathered’ deadline.
In this initial assessment stage, it is also important for fleet companies to be clear on their particular needs when it comes to ELD solutions. This can include requirements for integration with the vehicle models that are used as well as the particular needs of drivers in adopting the new device.
Step 2: Research ELD Options and Choose Provider
The next stage is researching and evaluating ELDs and their providers. Not all ELDs on the market meet the detailed requirements set forth in the mandate. Any chosen solution should be reviewed against the full list of requirements to make sure that it meets the mandate.
In addition, fleet companies should carefully research the provider of the recording device that is ultimately chosen for implementation. The provider can make or break the implementation process as well as success with the technology.
A few factors to consider include: the provider's reputation, capacity, experience with ELDs and related software, how well the provider's solution will integrate with and fit into the fleet's needs, cost of the solution, and resources the provider offers for rolling out the devices. Fleet companies should start their search with the FMCSA's database of self-registered providers, but will need to evaluate each option on their own for full compliance and compatibility.
Step 3: Plan and Execute Implementation
After deciding on the right provider and ELD solution, fleets will then need to create an implementation strategy. The more detailed the plan, the greater the likelihood of success, as more factors are considered and accommodated. Fleet companies should complete a list of everything that needs to be accomplished to replace AOBRDs with ELDs, have a clear policy on their use, and a plan for training and assessing implementation.
The implementation strategy, as well as the ongoing policy, should also include the specific responsibilities of all team members. Although drivers are the most obvious individuals affected by the ELD rule, administrators, supervisors, health and safety managers, and even the executive team need to be involved in executing the ELD implementation strategy and maintaining company policies.
Step 4: Driver Training on ELD Use and Requirements
Proper training for drivers is essential to a successful transition from AOBRDs to the recently mandated ELDs. Fleet companies and managers should provide training to ensure that all affected employees clearly understand requirements. This should include a review of policies and procedures related to hours of service (HOS) and expectations for ELD use. Also important is providing training on practical use of the ELD solution, which the provider may offer or sponsor.
Step 5: Post-Implementation Assessment
The final step in the transition of a fleet from automatic on-board recording devices to electronic logging devices is assessing the implementation of the new devices and system. The most critical part of this assessment is ensuring that ELDs are being used in every situation that requires it for compliance with the ELD mandate.
In addition, the post-implementation assessment should also review any problems that arose while rolling out the new system and evaluate how well the new policies and processes are being followed. This evaluation will help fleet managers detect issues with the new system more quickly and make fleet operations with ELDs more efficient.
Transition periods, especially those involving new technology, can be a challenging time for any business. However, with the right preparation and careful selection of ELD technology and providers, fleet companies can plan and execute a successful move from the old AOBRDs to ELDs in plenty of time to reach full compliance the deadline date.