One of the (many) questions we’re asked about ELD’s is timing: when to start using them. We’re currently a full year away from the US ELD Mandate go-live. Seems like a long time, but there are several factors that should be considered:
- Testing Time. Whatever ELD system you choose, you’re going to have to put a testing plan in place, well before go-live. Maybe even before you make your final ELD decision. Many providers have free trials, and/or a free version of the smartphone app. We recommend having all your testing done before June 2017.
- Training Time. In our experience, most companies really underestimate the time it’s going to take to train drivers, admin, and dispatchers. You absolutely can’t afford to have a driver tell an inspector, “I don’t know how to work the damn thing!”. Don’t assume that because you put on a few training classes, all the drivers are experts, or even competent with the new technology. We suggest one-on-one testing, verification and signoff with each person using the system.
- Choosing a Provider. By March, you should have started discussions with several ELD providers. Two key questions to ask them:
- Can you absolutely guarantee that your system will be in full compliance with the regulations? In the USA, providers can become ELD certified. The problem is that it is self-certification and is not evaluated or verified by the government.
- Can you absolutely guarantee that you will be able to provide the necessary hardware for our fleet? Seems obvious, but there are more than 15 million trucks in Canada and the USA. We foresee a massive rush as the deadline approaches. Some of the providers are small start-ups and may not have the capital or production capacity to fill the hardware demand.
- Dispatch Impact. ELD’s will change how dispatchers do their job. They will have full visibility of Hours of Service status and location of each driver. Some dispatchers currently run on a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ approach to Hours of Service – just ‘git ‘er done’. ELD’s will end that. Any HOS infractions, or expected infractions, will be evident to everyone, in real time.
- Staggered Contracts. Most ELD providers require a one-to-three year contract commitment when signing up. We recommend only dealing in one year contracts. This is a new technology and a new set of standards. You don’t want to be stuck with a ‘VHS’ system a few years down the road. Also, the contract should be staggered from December 2017, so that you’re not making a change, if needed, anywhere near the go-live.
We anticipate things will really heat up beginning in January (’17). We’re already seeing delays in response time from some of the providers. (At least with the good ones!)