Updated: Sep 30, 2019
What is an ELD?
An ELD (Electronic Logging Device) is technology that automatically records a driver’s driving time. This allows easier, more accurate hours-of-service record-keeping. An ELD monitors a vehicle’s engine to capture data on whether the engine is running, whether the vehicle is moving, miles driven, and duration of engine operation (engine hours). ELD manufacturers must certify that their products meet the technical standards in the ELD rule.
Five Tips for getting the most out of your ELD system
1. Validate that your ELD system is in the FMCSA Registry.
Make sure to check the FMCSA Registry, you can check it using this link. If it isn’t on this list, then it is no good and you have just wasted your money. I wonder if some of these companies just built an app, submitted paperwork to the FMCSA self-certifying (just FYI, that really is all they had to do to get on the registry) and started selling it without ever testing it at all? My guess is that a lot of these ELD companies did just that, so remember, just because the ELD company is on this list, does not necessarily mean they are compliant. A few lawsuits come up against ELD companies for not being compliant and the Motor Carrier ended up getting huge fines because of it.
2. Verify that your setup and configuration has been done properly.
Don’t rely on your ELD Provider to properly set up & configure your backend system, very rarely will your account manager or salesperson know the regulations and how you may or may not qualify for exemptions or even know the proper questions to ask you to help you set it up properly.
You will still be responsible for the fines even if your ELD Provider set it up wrong. We have gone in to several companies that assumed that everything was set up properly, only to receive fines during audit because the ELD was not flagging violations, which in turn did not show actual violations when drivers were out of compliance. It can turn into a blame game between you and your provider pretty quickly.
3. Be thoughtful when choosing the notification settings.
If you hear your phone pinging every 2 minutes, at some point you will just start ignoring it or end up shutting off the notifications altogether. Better to be realistic about what you have time to deal with and are willing to deal with immediately. Not to mention, if an accident were to occur and you were notified of a driver speeding, even 5 miles an hour over the limit, at that point, you knew and unless you did something about it, you could be found negligent.
4. Educate yourself on your ELD system’s administrative portal.
Know how to self-audit your ELD, check to make sure your drivers aren’t by-passing the system and how to validate any violation reports properly. Relying on the violations and unassigned mileage reports is not the only thing you need to pay attention to.
5. Take an Online Course that is all about ELD systems.
Take an ONLINE COURSE that is all about ELD systems. Not the course that the ELD company puts out, in most cases those only go over their system and they will not tell you about any issues or glitches they have. Which believe me when I say, a lot of ELD companies have some major issues they don’t want you to know about and you won't know until you get fined for it!
Bonus: What risks do ELD systems create?
FMCSA investigators were taught to catch you cheating
Quite a few people I have asked about being prepared for an audit have said “I have ELD’s, so I know I am good on that part” or “Doesn’t the ELD system tell you when you are in violation”? or even worse “I run all the reports, and I don't have any violations”.
What the FMCSA didn’t mention when they rolled out the ELD mandate, is that they had spent a ton of time and money training their investigators on how to catch you or your drivers cheating. Of course, they don't call it that and regardless of whether it was intentional or not on your part or the driver’s, is beside the point. You will end up getting huge fines for something you didn’t even know about. Worse yet, it could end up putting you in a “Conditional” rating which can wreak havoc on your insurance rates, your team and your bank account.
How to eliminate this risk
Get ready for a DOT/FMCSA Investigation before you have to. Ensuring you are well prepared for a review of your ELD system whether it be from the FMCSA or during litigation after a crash is key to making sure you don’t end up stressing out when it occurs. You could watch the Free Video that the FMCSA put out a while back. I have to say, it is a bit boring but still worth a watch. (Just FYI, the first part is awesome elevator music, just skip over that to the 15 minute mark to start watching)
Get the training on ELD systems that you really need. Look, we know that trying to figure everything out needs to be easier. When I started over 20 years ago Google didn’t even exist, there were hardly any resources available and the FMCSA didn’t help much either. They were great at issuing huge fines though. That is why I made it my mission to help you not make the same mistakes I did.
So to help me in that mission and by a lot of client requests, I created our online training program.
Know the Questions to Ask Before You Buy ELD's
Learn Key Points Investigators Use During an Audit
Insights on ELD's We Actually Like and Why
Bundle Up & Save Of course you can purchase each course individually, but you can also bundle them together for almost 50% off the price you would pay for all courses separately!
Don’t have time to perform weekly audits on your ELD’s? We have you covered. We have several clients that use our services just for this purpose. They figured out pretty quickly that managing ELD’s was a full time job and a lot of Motor Carriers ended up having to hire full time staff just to manage a system that was supposed to make things easier. We created a program that takes that burden off of you and your team. CONTACT US for more information
A LOT LESS expensive than hiring someone in house
One Time, Weekly, Bi-Weekly, Monthly, Quarterly plans available
Detailed reports, recommendations and training on how to improve
CONTACT US if you have questions or to find out about other services we offer. I promise not to be a pushy salesperson or offer anything that won't actually help you!
Tyna Bryan is the CEO of D.O.T. Readiness Group and DOTReady Software. With 20+ years of experience working in the industry, Tyna has owned and managed several companies as well as consulted for hundreds of companies all over the United States. If you get the chance to meet Tyna, she's a spitfire who knows her stuff! She has been consulting and training on DOT compliance and regulations exclusively since 2009.