Advances in information technology continue to seriously impact the transportation industry. While industry analysts consider the upcoming revolution caused by the development of self-driving vehicles, smaller advances in safety and recording are resulting in big impacts right now.
On December 11, 2015 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released a new final rule that will require commercial truck and bus carriers to use electronic logging devices (ELD). These devices will log a number of key data to ensure compliance with safety regulations.
Kevin Forbes, ECBM Transportation Specialist summarizes, “The FMCSA rule requires that ELDs must meet certain technical specifications and establishes procedures for the approval of ELDs that meet those specifications. The specifications have changed significantly since the original proposed rule was issued in 2012 and through several supplemental rules issued in the interim.”
Practically, ELDs must record certain key pieces of information to meet the requirements of the new rule: date, time, CMV location, engine hours, vehicle miles, driver identification data, vehicle identification data, and motor carrier identification data.
The rule does come with a phased implementation timeline. While most carriers will have two years to come into compliance with the new rule, certain subsets (such as those already using some form of automatic on-board recording device) will have four years to upgrade their fleets.
“The rule only applies to vehicles manufactured since the model year 2000 and excludes drivers who use paper records of duty status eight or less days a month”, says Scott Nuelle of ECBM. While part of the purpose of the rule involves the reduction of paper logs required by the FMCSA, the rule still requires certain supporting documents be kept by drivers.
Ultimately, these new requirements will increase the burden of motor carriers from an information technology standpoint. Supervision of the ELDs will require not only that they are installed appropriately but are working properly and not being tampered with. Interestingly, the rule does permit the use of smartphones or tablets as ELDs provided they meet with FMCSA approval, which may allow for some lowering of cost associated with the new rule.