Required in Cab ELD System Documents – How to Stay Compliant

What is required?

Beginning on December 18, 2017, a driver using an ELD must have an ELD information packet onboard the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) containing the following items:

 

FMCSA allows electronic documents

  1. A user’s manual for the driver describing how to operate the ELD;
  2. An instruction sheet describing the data transfer mechanisms supported by the ELD and step-by-step instructions to produce and transfer the driver’s hours-of-service records to an authorized safety official;
  3. An instruction sheet for the driver describing ELD malfunction reporting requirements and recordkeeping procedures during ELD malfunctions; and
  4. A supply of blank driver’s records of duty status (RODS) graph-grids sufficient to record the driver’s duty status and other related information for a minimum of 8 days.

The problem with a paper manual is keeping it up to date as the rules and technology changes.  FMCSA has acknowledged in their FAQ that electronic documents meet their requirements.

What’s the Solution?

ELD Info add in from Geotab

Never worry about having the required in vehicle documents, updates, and training again.  Just install the free ELD info add-in from the Geotab Marketplace.  You drivers can access it from their dashboard in Geotab Drive.  The add-in includes direct links to the latest versions of the required documents listed above (except for the paper logs required in the event of ELD malfunction).  It also has training videos, important contacts, announcements about updates to the app and workflow documents.  The add-in is absolutely free, but you must access the Marketplace from your MyGeotab account to install it.

 

GPS Tracker Comparison

Compare GPS Trackers
GPS Tracking System
Finding the right GPS tracker can mean thousands toward your ROI.

GPS Tracker Comparison

There are a wide variety of GPS trackers on the market today. Almost anything can be tracked but not everything can be tracked well. Understanding the basics of GPS tracking technology will help you make a quicker and better decision for your asset tracking needs. Being familiar with the industry terminology and technology will actually lead to an increased ROI. If you are looking for a fleet safety tool but realize you can also benefit from productivity data, you can find a GPS tracker that can help in both areas.

Let’s get started.

 

Vehicle v. Asset Tracking
 
Vehicle Trackers

Vehicle tracking provides a consistent and generally protected environment inside the vehicle. Devices don’t need to be IP67 rated like asset trackers which are more expensive. Vehicle GPS trackers typically use cellular communication due to a desire for more data, at a lower cost, because satellite coverage is not needed. Vehicle tracking services typically update every few seconds to no more than 2 minutes depending on the monthly cost. More data means a higher monthly cost.

Asset Trackers

Asset tracking can be done with satellite tracking systems or cellular GPS trackers depending on where the assets operate. Frac tanks used in the oil and gas industry generally use satellite trackers. Skid steers in urban construction almost always use cellular GPS trackers. Customers generally choose to receive more data at a lower cost; even if they cannot track an asset live 100% of the time. All GPS trackers have dead spots where they cannot communicate for some reason.

Backup Batteries

Backup batteries (BBs) are often requested and needed for unpowered assets. GPS devices require power from the asset or from a battery to operate. Assets, such as trailers, often sit without power for extended periods until connected to a tractor where power is restored. In these cases, a backup battery is needed. In vehicles, GPS devices receive constant power from the car battery.

In vehicle tracking, backup batteries are less important. BBs don’t enable the device to function as normal. BBs put the device in a reduced performance mode so the battery lasts longer. Customers often think BB will enable them to track the driver after they remove the GPS tracker as if it were still installed. BBs range from a CR2525 watch battery to lithium ion batteries. Vehicle trackers typically use small BBs which generally show you where the employee tossed the GPS unit out the window but not much more.

We sell all of the above options and have seen every scenario over the last 16+ years.

Tracking, Telematics, Diagnostics
Tracking

Vehicle location and speed data. Where an asset went, where it stopped and how long it was there.

Telematics

Data provided by the vehicles computer network and sensors (excluding engine data). This includes RPMs, accelerometer data for jack rabbit starts, harsh breaking, and reckless driving. It is the data used in accidents. Read more

Engine Diagnostics

Data transmitted by the engine through the OBD or J-Bus port generally consisting of fault codes and status data. There is a wide range of data available and GPS companies claim to offer these if they provide one data point out of several hundred. Ask good questions.

Installation & Tampering

 

There are essentially two types of installation used today; 3-wire and plug and play. The 3-wire installation is considered more reliable but it isn’t if the plug-and-play installation is done right with a Y-harness. View more on installations. 3-wire installations can be done on small to mid-size fleet trucks by most anyone that can install a car stereo. On bigger trucks and equipment it is best to use a trained installer or mechanic. Learning to install and troubleshoot the technology can save your operation a lot of time and money.

Tampering has been an issue for over 16 years. Tampering occurs with plug-and-plan (P&P) and 3-wire devices about equally. OBD devices that are installed without a Y-harness (moves GPS into the dash) are the most likely to be tampered with. Companies that sell devices requiring 3-wire installs will tell you OBD devices are always an issue. We sell both and the tamper rate is about the same. Tampering stops when you put your foot down. Read more about introducing GPS trackers to employees.

Equipment Considerations

 

Several equipment considerations such as backup batteries and communication networks are discussed in other areas of this blog. However, there are other things to consider in the physical design and construction of the GPS device itself.

First, all GPS trackers are not made equal. Significantly more engineering goes into some devices like the Geotab GO device. Other GPS units are almost “dumb” in comparison and everything else is in between. We sell them all so we are communicating facts as we know them, not opinions.

GPS devices vary in construction quality. Some have thinner plastics and others more robust internal components. A good GPS chip set means faster acquisition time from a cold start and more accurate coordinates in tough environmental conditions. Some devices do well in heat where others shut down in the Arizona sun. Ask for the technical specification sheet and the warranty on the device.

Warranty Considerations

If you think about GPS trackers like a cell phone you will be able to easily understand the general conditions. In short, most have a limited warranty period if you are not on a perpetual lease or rental. Second, if you break it you buy it. If it breaks, you keep paying for the service until fixed. If it fails due to manufacturing the device is replaced and you are responsible for the service cost to swap the unit.

Backup Battery Size and Type

Lithium ion batteries are the only real choice for a battery due to durability and long-life. The size of the battery in milliamps determines how long the battery will last based on the draw from the GPS unit when asleep and when it wakes to transmit without constant power. Since batteries don’t last forever be sure the device will use off the shelf batteries to keep your cost down. Having to special order custom batteries drives up the operational cost. If you can replace the batteries you will save big money on service work.

ELD & Dispatching
 
Electronic Logging Device (ELD for FMSCA compliance)

ELD is a big deal which is coming at certain industries fast and furious. Selecting the right GPS tracker means you will also get ELD options, if and when needed. Those fleets not yet AOBRD compliant by December 17 2019 will be in violation and taken out of service.

Read the full 126-page ruling here.

Dispatching

Dispatching is the process of sending stop or route data to a driver. Most ELD devices will offer some type of dispatching as an additional service. If you need both getting a GPS tracker that offers both will be significantly more convenient than two systems, which aren’t integrated, from two vendors.

Cellular v. Satellite

 

There are really two types of communication technology used for GPS trackers, satellite, and cellular. Don’t confuse GPS satellite with communication satellites. GPS satellites broadcast a radio wave like an FM radio station and you cannot “talk” back to it. Cellular and satellite communication generally talks 2-ways but satellites can be 1-way.

Most GPS trackers use cellular networks to move GPS and other data from the vehicle, to a cell tower, to a server, to the Internet. Because of the low cost, most fleet operators use cellular. Understanding the carrier used and the coverage footprint will enable you to know when you will receive “live” tracking data. Cellular is also more reliable because it can communicate with the towers more easily due to the radio frequency used.

Satellite communication is more of a specialty technology used when assets are operating in very remote areas where cellular service is not an option. Communication satellite signals do not penetrate objects such as trees or buildings and costs significantly more than cellular. Satellite systems also manage battery power differently which leads to less detailed track data.

Cellular networks generally use GSM or CDMA technology. Verizon and Sprint use CDMA and are generally being phased out and replaced by 4G or LTE service which also SIM cards. GSM is the international standard and is easily identified by a SIM card. SIM cards offer some flexibility but you cannot take a GPS device from one vendor and use it on another vendors website.

Log, Update & Refresh Rates

 

Understanding the relationship is important to sort out the information from various sales reps. Unfortunately, most sales reps in call centers don’t understand these concepts so you will have to prompt them to explain each in detail so you know what you are getting.

Log Rate

The frequency which the GPS tracker logs the position of the asset. This varies from a few seconds to once per day.

Update Rate

The rate at which the log data collected is transmitted to a cellular or satellite communication tower.

Refresh Rate

The rate at which the website refreshes and displays newly received log data.

Integration

 

Integration refers to the sharing or movement of data between applications, databases or services in order to increase the overall use and value of data already paid for. If you have a need to utilize the GPS tracker data in other areas you want to be sure the GPS vendor offers APIs. APIs are an industry standard method of moving data via the Internet in a secure manner. Read more

Top 10 Most Common Unsafe Driving Violations

J.J. Keller’s List of Unsafe Driving Violations

Let’s talk about safety. J. J. Keller notes the Top 10 CSA unsafe driving violations. The FMCSA is an organization of authority in the industry. Paying attention to these scores is essential to operations.

 

No. 1: Speeding

Speeding violations range in severity from 1-10 dependent on speed and location. Speeding 1 encompasses speeding 1-5 mph above posted speed limit. Levels 2 and 3 are reserved for speeds 6-10 mph and 11-14 mph, respectively. Level 10 severity speeding violations include speeds 15 mph in excess of posted speed limit, and any speeding in construction zones. All of these speeding violations will affect your driver’s CSA score. Keep an eye out for excessive speed behaviors to protect your business!

 

No. 2: Failing to use a seat belt

This violation is an automatic level 7 for severity. Such a simple, life saving device, yet 2009 racked up over 70,000 of these violations. Failure to wear a seat belt not only affects your driver CSA score, but risks lives in the process.

 

No. 3: Failing to obey a traffic control device

We’re looking at a level 5 offense here. Failure to obey a traffic control device is a general category encompassing running stop signs, red lights, passing in a no-passing zone, and all other ignorance to road signage.

How can you avoid these violations? Simple. Make sure your drivers know the rules of the road and maintain awareness. This means limiting fatigued drivers, in addition to continuing education courses.

 

No. 4: Following too close

Categorized within “dangerous driving” this level 5 offense can be a deadly offense, and the CSA looks at it that way too. According to the FMCSA, “If you are driving below 40 mph, you should leave at least one second for every 10 feet of vehicle length… For speeds over 40 mph, you should leave one additional second”.

Watch: Dangers of Following too Closely

 

No. 5: Improper lane change

This is an automatic level 5 offense. An improper lane change is when a person changes or attempts to change lanes without an open and clear path. Essentially, it’s cutting someone off.

It’s very difficult to receive a citation for this because it requires one of two things. Either an officer has to witness to the improper lane change, or an accident resulting from the lane change with witnesses. Even with this being the case, there were still over 11,000 citations in 2009.

 

No. 6: Using/equipping a CMV with a radar detector

This level 5 offense is considered highly illegal. This is primarily because it endangers other drivers on the road. Not only is speeding dangerous overall, but speeding in a CMV can be especially dangerous because of the size of the vehicle, or the cargo. In particular, semi-truck tires are not rated for speeds above 75 mph, which means speed can lead to a dangerous blowout.

Using radar detectors is a practice that enables speeding in locations not currently under monitor.

 

No. 7: Failure to yield right of way

Failure to yield the right of way is a level 5 offense. It is considering a dangerous driving offense, and also negatively affects your driver’s CSA score. This includes intersections, multi-way stops, pedestrians, and other traffic signage. Violations can be a result of ignorance or confusion, but either way you can control violations to the law through driver education and coaching.

Unnecessarily yielding right of way can be just as dangerous, because it is often the cause of confusion.

 

No. 8: Improper turns

Improper turns are categorized under level 5 severity. This violation includes failing to make a complete stop before a right on red, improper distance from roadside when performing a turn, not utilizing turn signals, and improperly executed u-turns. Behaviors resulting in an improper turn violation also result in an impact on driver CSA score.

 

No. 9: Improper passing

Improper passing can be very unsafe. It includes endangering other vehicles while passing, blind passing at the tops of hills or around curves, and passing on the right. These behaviors result in high-speed, deadly accidents. As such, the severity level is 5, and it will absolutely impact driver CSA score.

This violation can also be issued when passing in a passing lane, or illegally crossing designated lane boundaries to pass another vehicle. In the case of most CMVs, size generally prohibits these behaviors.

 

No. 10: Reckless driving

Reckless driving is a major moving traffic violation. It ranks a level 10 on the severity index, and can result in the revocation of a license or jail time. It includes driving 25 mph over the speed limit, street racing, eluding a police officer, and even passing when visibility is limited.

Clearly, this would impact CSA score, but beyond that, it can severely damage your company’s reputation. When a potential customer sees your company vehicle weaving between lanes of traffic, they lose trust in your professional image.

 

Avoiding unsafe driving violations

The easiest way to avoid unsafe driving violations is to educate your drivers. Knowing the rules of the road can really make an impact on your driver CSA score. Abiding by the rules will eliminate the likelihood of receiving any violations at all.

Other ways to avoid violations:

  1. Stay alert
  2. Wear your seat belt
  3. Drive defensively
  4. Participate in NSC training
  5. Utilize driver coaching plug-ins

Read more about plug-ins and driver coaching here.

Vehicle Classifications for FMCSA

Vehicle Classificiations

Vehicle Type Classification

The Federal Highway Administration Sets the Standards

There are 13 vehicle classifications identified by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) which is a department of the Department of Transporation (DOT). Understanding the classification of your fleet will help you remain compliant. Some vehicles may operate in a gray area, such as axles that can be lifted, which makes compliance even more challenging. Hazardous material introduces 9 additional classifications which requires compliance (download here).

As a small or medium fleet operator, it may be difficult to understand the regulations and keep up with changes. The regulation for ELD still are not defined which is why the largest companies in the GPS tracking and ELD space are not listed as being compliant on the FMSCA website. The companies that are listed are literally self registered as compliant yet have done so before FMSCA has defined the final rule set. It is misleading to allow GPS tracking and ELD companies to self register without FMSCA oversight or regulation.

What is clear is the deadlines, the first being 12/18/2017. On 12/18 all vehicles subject to FMSCA regulations must be AOBRD compliant. Being one day late will mean a fleet operator must then be ELD compliant prior to 12/16/2019. By being AOBRD compliant fleets have longer to be ELD compliant that those that do not meet the 12/17/18 deadline. The rule set for AOBRD and ELD compliance is rather significant which will lead to ELD compliance being more expensive. Fleet operators are much better off implementing an AOBRD system that has the flexibility to be ELD compliant in almost any configuration required by the regulation.

So what are a few features to look for in an AOBRD solution that will likely be ELD compliant?

  1. Equipment. Equipment is far less flexible and much more expensive to update than software (client install or web application). If the FMSCA regulation dictates new features a device does not have today, it will result in a new investment to get compliant come 12/16/2019. Being ABORD compliant gives fleet managers the maximum time to spend on a single platform before potentially having to update equipment. In small fleets this may be a big deal but in enterprise fleets with over 1,000 vehicles this is a very large and expensive project.
  2. Application. There are two choices for the application. A true application is a service you run on a device like your smart phone. It is updated routinely as development takes place. This gives you the maximum flexibility and assurance that compliance is possible without having to install a software update. An application that is installed on a device, like a Garmin unit, means that Garmin must be connected to a computer and an update installed. This means touching each device every time updates and new features are released.

If you are in starting to think about investigating being AOBRD or ELD compliant contact Fleetistics to discuss your plan, timeline and budget. With ELD being an add-on to a very robust GPS tracking and telematics platform, getting your ROI well in advance of deploying ELD is possible.

Four Benefits to the ELD Mandate

The ELD Mandate Can Improve Your Business

 

FMCSAs ELD Mandate provides an outstanding opportunity to simplify and streamline your handwritten recording process. Fleetistics electronic log systems automate the process. This reduces the time required to compile and maintain driver records. Automation means savings for your company. Let us take a look at the benefits of the Fleetistics ELD/eLog/Hours of Service system:

 

ELD Mandate Benefit 1Benefit #1 Elimination of handwritten log books. Fleetistics electronic log system replaces the handwritten log book with an easy-to-use mobile app run on an Android tablet or iOS iPad. Gone are the days of trying to decipher illegible log entries.

 

 


ELD Mandate Benefit 2Benefit #2 Simplified roadside compliance reporting. When roadside log inspection is required, drivers simply click a button to instantly display a fully compliant report. As changes occur to reporting requirements, our system incorporates those changes.

 

 

 

 

 


ELD Mandate Benefit 3Benefit #3 Real-time status for dispatchers. Dispatchers and other office-based personnel can obtain a drivers current status instantly.

 

 


ELD Mandate Benefit 4Benefit #4 Digital verification of logs. Never again will it be necessary to chase down a driver to obtain a signature to verify a log entry. Digital verification is provided through the tablet app.

 

 

 


The FMSCA ELD Mandate provides the perfect opportunity to automate the process of maintaining driver log information. Our system also automates compliance with the ELD rules. As changes occur to recordkeeping requirements, our system incorporates the changes to provide users with automatic compliance.

For a live demonstration of the Fleetistics ELD/eLog/Hours of Service system, contact your account manager today.