The FMCSA is not certifying ELD vendors’ products, which means carriers must ensure devices meet the organization’s technical specifications.
On December 18, new electronic logging device (ELD) regulations went into effect for commercial vehicle fleets across the U.S. The ELD mandate has caused major waves in the transportation industry. But it has the potential to rock supply chains and manufacturers around the globe — and not just because of anticipated transportation disruptions and increases in costs.
ELD manufacturers must comply with technical specifications outlined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). They must also register their devices with the FMCSA. Motor carriers might assume that selecting a device that vendors are promoting as “FMCSA certified” would be a simple solution. Amazingly, however, that certification may not be worth the paper it’s printed on.
When does “certified” not mean “verified?”
Last year the FMCSA directed carriers to a site where they could find a list of registered ELDs. The problem with this is that the devices on this list are self-certified by the manufacturer. There’s no guarantee that they actually meet FMCSA guidelines.
To appear on the FMCSA’s list, ELD manufacturers must submit certain documents, including malfunction and diagnostics and product serial numbers. However, to gauge if their product is compliant, manufacturers must conduct their own tests. And the FMSCA is not vetting documentation of the testing.
The problem with this is fairly obvious. Without mandatory testing from a neutral, third-party source, devices are subject to only the rigor of their own manufacturer’s testing. They may not follow the FMCSA’s test specifications. And, of course, less-than-honorable manufacturers could use the lack of oversight to their advantage.
Consequences, however, will fall entirely on the shoulders of the operators and their carriers using non-compliant ELDs.
Compliant today, not tomorrow
Motor carriers purchase these systems under good faith that they will meet the FMCSA’s performance requirements once in use. But the possibility is looming that some ELDs may be noncompliant. Then what?
Carriers have eight days from the time an ELD is determined to be noncompliant to replace it with a compliant one. While drivers can temporarily use paper logs, this obviously isn’t a real solution, and will leave carriers scrambling to get their ducks in a row.
Before selecting an ELD vendor, carriers need to understand the details of compliance and hold vendors to those standards.
Carriers should push vendors for specific information about compliance with FMCSA test specifications. Or they should seek vendors who have opted to use third-party testing companies, such as PIT Group, to independently verify ELDs meet FMCSA standards. Either way, carriers should test and verify the ELDs they have chosen for their fleets on their own to ensure compliance as soon as possible.
The coming months are bound to see many headaches from the confusion caused by FMCSA-certified (but not regulated) ELD devices. Carriers need to be aware of this now, so they can properly prepare for any issues that may arise.