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  • Henry Seaton

FMCSA clarifies important ELD issues

If a carrier replaces a truck that was equipped by December 18 with a device that meets current standards for electronic logs it can use that device on any truck in its fleet until December 16, 2019, when electronic logging devices (ELDs) will be required for all drivers required to complete records of duty status. However, under the new guidance from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, carriers will not be able to purchase new devices meeting automatic onboard recording device (AOBRD) standards after December 18.

Beginning December 18, drivers who must complete records of duty status must use log electronically using a device that meets either ELD or AOBRD standards. Those that comply using AOBRDs must begin using ELDs by December 16, 2019. If a carrier complies using ELDs it must adopt a device that is registered with FMCSA. That list is expected to grow in the coming months.

On February 15, FMCSA added to its ELD frequently asked questions comments that clarify the scope of the grandfathering of AOBRDs under the final ELD rule and provide guidance on what happens if a carrier adopts a registered ELD that ultimately is found non-compliance by the agency. Both are issues that were left vague by the rule and that needed clarification so that carriers could plan their electronic log strategies.

Grandfathered AOBRDs

The final rule is silent on what happens if a carrier adds a truck after December 18, 2017, but it could be read to imply that carriers would have to install ELD-compliant devices on any truck not in service as of that date. Carriers have inquired whether this means that if they made any equipment changes after December 18 they would have to support devices meeting two separate standards that have different compliance requirements. FMCSA have promised clarification for months.

According to § 395.8, if a motor carrier “installs and requires a driver to use an AOBRD…before December 18, 2017 they may continue to use the AOBRD until December 16, 2019.” Does this mean I can move an AOBRD from one vehicle to another after December 18, 2017?

If your operation uses AOBRDs and you replace vehicles in your fleet with new commercial motor vehicles, you can install existing AOBRDs in the new CMVs. However, you may not purchase and install a new AOBRD in a vehicle after December 18, 2017.

So carriers may keep AOBRDs in use as of December 18 and install them on new trucks, but they cannot buy new AOBRDs after that date. This represents something of a compromise. Carriers that do not expand during the two-year grandfather period will not have to install ELDs before December 16, 2019. On the other hand, if a carrier adds a truck without retiring one equipped with an AOBRD, it must install a device meeting ELD standards. It is expected that the major suppliers will allow customers to use either standard with the same device, although as of today none of the major electronic log vendors has registered an ELD.

Non-compliant ELDs

FMCSA does not certify ELDs; it relies on ELD suppliers to self-certify. Manufacturers don't even have to use FMCSA's compliance test procedure. The agency says it will review whether an ELD is compliant only if it suspects otherwise. Regardless, carriers must use ELDs that are on the list of registered and self-certified devices.

Until February 15, FMCSA had not directly addressed what specifically would happen if a carrier installed a registered ELD that later was found by FMCSA to be non-compliant. Previously, the agency merely emphasized that it had adopted procedures giving ELD suppliers opportunities to correct any deficiencies and to appeal a decision that their devices were not compliant.

What happens if an electronic logging device (ELD) is found to be non-compliant after it is in use?

As a motor carrier, you will have 8 days from notification to replace your non-compliant device with a compliant one. This is the same time allowed to take action on ELDs that need to be repaired, replaced, or serviced. In the event of a widespread issue, FMCSA will work with affected motor carriers to establish a reasonable timeframe for replacing non-compliant devices with ELDs that meet the requirements.

FMCSA's clarification confirms that carriers cannot fully rely on an ELD's registration because it could have just eight days to replace an ELD. It isn't clear what would constitute a "widespread issue," so carriers cannot count on more than eight days. Complying by installing AOBRDs before December 18 could reduce this risk.

Other ELD issues

The agency posted several other additions FAQs on February 15, most related to the issue of device compliance. Those FAQs are:

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