As you probably know by now, FMCSA issued their final rulemaking forcing you to get an Electronic Logging Device (ELD) in your truck. This must be done by December 18, 2017. The ELDs will apply to all commercial vehicles with a GVWR of 10,001 lbs. or more. Drivers are not required to use ELDs if:
1) they are only required to complete a log 8 times or less in 30 days.
2) they have a vehicle manufactured before model year 2000.
The rulemaking is incredibly complex, complete with painstaking technical specifications each ELD unit must meet. Furthermore, DOT has set up an entirely new, detailed process which must be followed to properly document drivers’ hours as recorded by the ELDs. It appears they have tried to account for every last scenario whereby you may try to cheat their ELDs. They have a website, where they have FAQs, list approved vendors of the ELDs, etc. According to this website, manufacturers may begin registering their ELD devices with DOT on February 16, 2016. Probably within a month or two, DOT will then put on their website somewhere which devices are registered, which I guess means ‘approved’.
The main thing to know at this point is, you are going to need these ELDs by December 18, 2017. That date might change, but I would not count on it. If it does, it might only move back a month or two. This rulemaking will almost certainly happen. OOIDA, God bless them, is suing to stop the rulemaking, but I doubt they will get far. As far as the technical specifications, and how to use the ELDs, I would probably wait a few months before digging into the nuts and bolts of that. After all, DOT is not even allowing manufacturers to ‘register’ their ELDs with DOT yet.
My long-held belief is this rulemaking is going to dramatically force many, many small carriers out of business. If you manage to be one of the carriers who can both afford to install the units, and make a profit by operating strictly legally, then there should be a world of freight available to you.
A friend of mine is a wheel in the logistics department of a Fortune 500 company. He disagrees. He doesn’t think this rulemaking will make much of a difference at all because he thinks the small carriers will just ignore or cheat it, and that DOT doesn’t have enough resources to catch all the guys who will be cheating the rule. Maybe, but I doubt it. This rulemaking has rules, on top of new rules in it. My guess is they have built an electronic cage, from which escape is impossible. Time will tell.