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ELD in cab File photo
An ELD (upper right) inside a truck cab.

ELDs: What late adopters should know

Truckers are likely to experience a variety of setbacks, ranging from a shortage of available devices to implementation and training difficulties.

recent survey conducted by CarrierLists reports that 60 percent of small fleets have yet to adopt electronic logging devices (ELDs). With the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) ELD rule taking effect on December 18, many will be scrambling to become compliant at the last minute. In this guest column, Justin Green – a truck consultant with the commercial truck solutions team at Element Fleet Management – offers some advice for late adopters of ELDs.

As seasons change and the ELD rule creeps closer, some fleets and owner-operators across the country are working frantically to become compliant – and many don’t have a plan in place yet to do so.

With the mandate going into effect at the height of the holiday season – an already busy time for the industry – key components may fall through the cracks. Truckers are likely to experience a variety of setbacks, ranging from a shortage of devices to implementation and training difficulties.

Waiting too long will render some of these challenges unavoidable. However, understanding those roadblocks will help late adopters avoid them and enable them to run a fully compliant fleet when December 18 rolls around.

Here are a few potential issues late adopters of ELDs need to keep in mind:

Device Shortage and Quality: We may see an influx of last-minute device orders as late-adopters spring into action close to the deadline. The challenge; ELD providers may not have enough devices available for fleets to equip all of their vehicles by December 18.

ELD providers need adequate notice to fill orders. With such high demand, truckers across the board who have yet to order their devices will end up competing for devices in the coming months.

In short, truckers who have not yet ordered devices should do so as soon as they reach the end of this article.

Similarly, carriers should research their options to make the best choice for their fleet and business operations. Without this knowledge, they could end up picking the wrong device for their needs.

The responsibility ultimately falls on truckers to understand the type of device that will work for their business. Some fleets have ELD provider partners who understand their business and work with them to figure out the best solution; this knowledge is paramount to meeting compliance on time and with minimal issues.

Proper Installation and Performance: Murphy’s Law says if something can go wrong, it will. In this case, handling ELD installation last-minute will lead to last-minute issues.

Late adopters will have less time and less access to critical resources. As we expect a high demand for devices before the rule takes effect, it’s also safe to predict there will be a shortage of knowledgeable installers who can properly install and test these devices.

Fleets and owner-operators with a jumpstart on ELD compliance have had the luxury of getting ahead of potential issues before they become serious problems. Unfortunately, late adopters don’t have as much time to troubleshoot.

For those who insist on holding out until the last minute, remember – test, test, test!

Training: In my last American Trucker column, I discussed the critical importance of top-to-bottom ELD training, especially for fleets large and small. Switching from paper to electronic logging brings with it a big learning curve – and training for that curve will take time and money. While the details of training are best presented on their own, it’s important for late adopters to remember how paramount training is to compliance.

Truckers should be planning for training as soon as devices are ordered. The concern is that if you are scrambling to meet the compliance date, you may overlook this critical step.

ELD providers will be able to offer a variety of training and resources for truckers large and small to get smart about compliance and the upcoming rule.

There is also plenty of information across the internet and in magazines like American Trucker for fleets of all sizes to reference.

While there’s much to keep in mind, here’s the bottom line: order devices, test them and train on them ASAP.

December 18 will be here before you know it.

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