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Super Dispatch listens to feedback at AHAA

The bi-annual Auto Haulers Association of America Conference was in Fernandino Beach, FL. this fall, and Super Dispatch was happy to be in attendance for the second time ever.

Earlier this spring, we made a blog post about the ultimate takeaways our company had from the AHAA conference. The key difference between the fall and the spring was the amount of in-depth feedback we were able to get from all of the carriers at the conference. In the spring, we walked away from AHAA with a lasting impression about how time consuming it is for carriers to run a car hauling enterprise. This fall, our biggest takeaway was the extensive feedback we got on how carriers business needs change as they scale up. We were happy to hear that carriers really appreciate how focused Super Dispatch is on implementing their feedback, and we were surprised that it was not more common place.

Buying an ELD? Here are the Top 5 Questions You Should Ask

Suepr Dispatch ELD company questions

What questions do you need to ask to get the right ELD for your company? Super Dispatch has the answers!

We know electronic logging devices are complicated and with over 200 options on the market, deciding what to purchase can be daunting.

As part of our ELD deep-dive series, we’re covering the most important questions to ask before making your ELD purchase.

We also put together a handy guide of additional questions to consider before you buy, based on the FMCSA requirements checklist.

Get our ELD Question Guide

1.) Is this a standalone device or an app used with a smartphone?

This is arguably the most important question to ask  ELD providers. ELD’s are a system of three physical parts; a data collection box, diagnostic plug-in and a display

All ELDs have a data collection box and plug-in, but display types vary depending on the system.

Currently, an ELD system has either a standalone device to display your data, or you can use an application on your smartphone to manage and display your data.

When you decide to buy an ELD these are your only two options in terms of variety. Each option has positives and negatives. Using your own device  means the ELD might initially be cheaper to operate, but could be unreliable or require a phone with a newer operating system (think an iphone 8 instead of an iphone 5.)

A standalone display device could have fewer glitches than an app you use on your phone, but it will be more expensive and harder to update as Hours of Service rules change. Which brings us to…

2.) How does the provider stay up-to-date with new elog regulations?

Especially with this new ELD mandate, groups are petitioning for Hours of Service and ELD laws to be changed daily. Just recently there was a new petition to change the split-sleeper allowances.

If you’re using a standalone device, your provider may cover device upgrades or software updates. If you’re using your smartphone, providers will notify you with required software updates within the app.

With either option, make sure the provider you’re considering has a feasible plan to incorporate regulatory changes.

3.) What are my upfront costs and payment options?

Price is obviously one of the most important aspects of choosing  an ELD. But knowing “how much is this going to cost me?” is not enough. Some ELDs are a one-time-only payment, but as regulations change, companies that sold one-time-payment devices might not cover the cost of a newer regulatory-compliant device. Some ELD’s might sell you on a low monthly payment, but will require you to pay the first two years up front. This means when newer, better ELDs come on the market you will simply have to cut your losses.

Super Dispatch thinks monthly or quarterly payments are the most economical option for smaller companies.

4.) What data plan do you recommend to use your service adequately?

Yet another cost of ELDs are hotspot use. Yes, the ELD is wired to your truck, but all ELDs require some form of wireless internet access to operate. One provision of the ELD mandate is “data transfer” and whether your device performs a “bluetooth” or “web services” data transfer, you need internet access to log all of your RODS somewhere other than your local device. Find out about this hidden cost early.

Super Dispatch, Electronic Logging Device, car haulers, auto transporters5.) What kind of data transfer method does your device support?

As mentioned earlier, Bluetooth and Web services are the two supported transfer methods for Record of Duty Status (RODS) to a safety officer during inspections. The web services option is generally more reliable to connect with a larger range of devices, but Bluetooth will be cheaper overall and will be able to transfers files in areas without internet or data connection.

This question is in the Top 5 because it is the most important functionality in a roadside safety inspection. DoT officers are allowed to request the last seven days of RODS at roadside inspection, and if you fail to provide the required documentation, you will get seven violation points on your record.

Seven is the highest number of points a driver can accrue for a single ELD violation. This is the most serious ELD violation that exists – yes, even more points than not having an ELD at all.

 

We think these are the Top 5 things you should be asking your ELD salesperson when buying an ELD. But we have 15 more questions in a printable PDF  you can download now..

Get our ELD Question Guide

Have you been in the market for ELDs? What has been your experience buying ELDs? Let us know!

Do you have more questions? Let us know in the comments!

The Ultimate Guide to ELD and Hours of Service

Super Dispatch has been writing about the ELD mandate for over a year now to help our customers prepare. But now as the ELD mandate has officially been enacted, we took the time to dig deep into the regulations. Now we have all the information you need to know about the Electronic Logging Device Mandate and Hours of Service from the FMCSA!

Truckers are still processing all the nuances of the ELD Mandate that officially came into effect December of 2017. Super Dispatch has noticed a lot of questions coming through the Support Chat Window about this mandate, and we want to address the confusion. Over the next few weeks, we will address some of those questions in a series of videos. Through this post and the accompanying videos, we will cover:

  1. the ELD definition
  2. Hours of Service rules
  3. ELD mandate exemption
  4. Rules for exempt drivers
  5. Elog Device requirements
  6. Super Dispatch’s tips for buying Elog devices
  7. How to use an Elog Device properly while driving
  8. What ELD data transfer means and how to do it
  9. Super Dispatch’s tips for using Elog devices
  10. The common controversies surrounding ELD and HoS
  11. History and future of the Elog and HoS debate

There are a lot of nuances to this mandate, and we will be updating this post with more videos, helpful checklists and tips.

Definition and Rules

Video 1 of 10

Definition and Hours of Service rules

ELECTRONIC LOGGING DEVICE DEFINITION

OFFICIALLY: “Electronic hardware that is attached to a commercial motor vehicle engine to record driving hours. The driving hours of commercial drivers (truck and bus drivers) are regulated by a set of rules known as the hours of service (HOS).”

TRANSLATION: An electronic device that plugs into a commercial semi-truck engine to automatically record when the truck is running or not. The device forces a commercial semi-truck driver to automatically record the hours he is driving his truck (in accordance with the FMCSA Hours of Service to which all commercial drivers must adhere.) Because HoS affects the ELD mandate, we have defined the Hours of Service rules below:

HOURS OF SERVICE RULES

(according the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration)

  • 11 in 14 hours rule:
    11 hours in 14 hours trucking rule ELD FMCSA Super Dispatch

    Official FMSCA HoS rules, from fmcsa.org

    According to the FMCSA website, a commercial driver can only be ON DUTY for a maximum of 14 hours after his required 10 consecutive hours OFF DUTY. (Drivers regulated by the Hours of Service regulations must take 10 consecutive hours OFF DUTY after every work day.) Within that 14 hours, he may drive his vehicle for a maximum of 11 hours. The 14 hour “ON DUTY” clock does not stop ticking. The 11 hour DRIVING clock can start and stop whenever necessary.

  • 70 hours in 8 days rule:
    truckers are not allowed to drive more than 70 hours in 8 days FMCSA Super Dispatch ELD mandate

    Screengrab from the FMCSA website.

    This rule requires that drivers can not be ON DUTY more than 70 hours in 8 consecutive days. This rule combined with the 11 /14 hour rule means that a driver could potentially be forced to wait days at a time, so as not to work too many consecutive hours. This is why, after much debate, the FMCSA decided on the…

  • 34 hour restart rule: This is a rule that allows a driver to “restart” his 8 day clock. For instance, if a driver has been ON DUTY a full 14 hours each day, Monday – Friday, he would have to wait 72 hours until he could legally drive again. The 34 hour restart rule cuts that wait time in half.
  • 30 minute break in 8 hour rule:

    FMCSA 30 minute break rule does not apply to short haul drivers.

    For the first 8 hours of his 11 hour DRIVING window, a driver must take a 30 minute break. It doesn’t matter when he takes the 30 minute break, as long as it falls within the first 8 hours of driving.

ELD EXEMPTIONS

Video 2/10

In this section, we are going to get into everyone’s favorite question on the ELD mandate – AM I EXEMPT? Few exemptions apply to commercial car haulers, but we will outline here the exact parameters of these exemptions. Exempt drivers fall into two categories: HoS exempt or ELD exempt. Short Haul and Agricultural drivers are Hours of Service exempt, while older vehicles and towaway services are only ELD exempt.

LIST OF EXEMPTIONS:

  • Short haul (also known as the Time Card Exemption or the 100 air mile exemption): When a commercial driver operates within a 100 or 150 air mile radius. (CDL required drivers have a maximum of 100 air miles while NON-CDL required drivers have a 150 air mile maximum.) In addition to this requirement, the driver must meet a few more:
    – Start and return to same location during operating time
    • Drive no more than 11 hours
    • Have ten consecutive hours off between shifts
    • Operate no more than 12 hour days

If you meet these requirements, you do not need to record your Hours of Service using a federally mandated Electronic Logging Device. IN FACT, you do not need to record HoS AT ALL. You do need to use “time records” to prove (during random compliance checks) that you consistently fall within this exemption category.

  • Agricultural exemption: Like Short Haul, Agricultural drivers that operate in a 150 air mile radius are not required to log Hours of Service at all, and only need to record a time record. Because agricultural exemptions rarely affect car haulers, we will not cover this topic in depth. FMCSA has a short PDF that covers the specifics better than we ever could.
  • Recreational: This is for drivers that operate large trailers recreationally rather than commercially. This definitely does not fall under the work our customers do, so we will also not go in depth here.
  • Pre-2000 engines: Trucks with engines older than the millenium (2000) are not required to record Hours of Service using an electronic logging device. Sometimes, engines will not match the model year on the VIN (this disparity happens when an engine is rebuilt using a “glider kit.”) Drivers must remember that this requirement applies to the engine, not the VIN. Engines need to have electronic control modules to connect to ELDs.
  • Driveaway/Towaway service: If you are operating a towaway service (driving multiple personal vehicles) it’s impractical to install an ELD in your constantly changing workspace.

FAQ

What are air miles?

Think of air miles in flight terms: Air miles are the straight line from Point A to Point B, as opposed to the literal distance it would take someone to travel from Point A to Point B.

E.g. Houston to Austin, TX is about 165 miles in road miles, whereas it is only 145 in air miles.

How do I calculate air miles?

Here is a handy air mile calculator that you can use to estimate.

What if I occasionally exceed the 12 hour rule or other parameters of the exemption?

That’s okay – FMCSA knows that short haul drivers do not drive short distances all the time. If you do not exceed these parameters more than 8 out of every 30 days then you are still exempt. 30 days means every 30 day period, not every month (i.e. May 15 – June 15 is a 30 day period.)

How do I record my drive time on days I exceed the exemption?

As long as you don’t exceed the exemption for 8 out of 30 days, you must record your

What is a time record and how is it different from RODS?

A time record is a simpler version of a RODS. It is not an official legal document and can be recorded in any format. These are the elements a time record (or “time card”) should have:

Car Hauler BOL App

Click the photo to download.

(A) The time the driver reports for duty each day;

(B) The total number of hours the driver is on duty each day;

(C) The time the driver is released from duty each day; and

(D) The total time for the preceding 7 days in accordance with 395.8(j)(2) for drivers used for the first time or intermittently.

To be safe, we suggest you follow this format (or print off this form and use it.)

You are not required to produce any sort of proof that you record this information at the roadside, unlike with RODS.

Do you want a little more information? Head over to the ELD and ELD Exempt FAQ post, where we expanded on the subject!
Bonus Video

Bonus video 2.5

RULES FOR HoS and ELD exempt drivers

ELD exempt drivers fall into two categories: Hours of Service Exempt and simply ELD exempt. What does that mean though? We helped you out with this short explainer video and text:

Hours of Service exempt drivers: requirements

Hours of Service exempt drivers do not need to adhere to the paper log requirement that most do. These drivers do have to keep “time records” to prove that they are indeed Hours of Service exempt as we explained earlier in this post.

“Time records” are not specific legal documents like RODS, and can vary in format. Both CDL required and NON CDL required drivers are required to record in this manner. These are the only specifications for time records:

As per 395.1, the only thing that has to be done is that the motor carrier must maintain and retain for a period of 6 months accurate and true time records showing:

(A) The time the driver reports for duty each day;

(B) The total number of hours the driver is on duty each day;

(C) The time the driver is released from duty each day; and

(D) The total time for the preceding 7 days in accordance with 395.8(j)(2) for drivers used for the first time or intermittently.

The driver must return to the place he started within 12 hours.  This is all determined on investigation or a compliance review.

Drivers must record these time records daily, but are not required to produce them at roadside.

ELD only exempt drivers: requirements

This is the simplest one: if you are an ELD exempt driver, you just need to record to your logs as usual, within the Hours of Service mandate that we covered in the first section of this post. Unlike HoS exempt drivers, your hours of service must be on an official Hours of Service log.

ELD and HoS EXEMPT RULES: FAQ

Super Dispatch asked the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (the group responsible for International Roadcheck) and a Safety Investigator at the Missouri Division of the US Department of Transportation about the specifics of a few of these rules:

[HoS] Do I need to produce these time records at roadside inspection?

“Nothing, other than the drivers statement that he is operating within the 100 miles has to be produced at the side of the road. The only time a driver must produce something at roadside is when he is required to keep a RODS in some form,” said Kerri Wirachowsky, Director of Roadside Inspection Program at the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. The safety investigator at the DoT agreed on this point.

[HoS] Do I have to keep these records on paper?

No, as long as the sections in 395.1 are recorded in some way, the format does not matter.

[HoS or ELD] Can I record in electronic programs, such as the Super Dispatch Hours of Service recording feature?

The simple answer is yes, as long as you are recording accurately, electronic recording software (that is not an ELD) is compliant. But, if you are pulled over at roadside and you must be able to produce physical records that you can sign and hand over to a DoT officer.

[HoS or ELD] Can I email my electronically recorded logs at roadside inspection?

If you do not have an ABORD (the electronic recording system that was grandfathered in to the ELD mandate for another year) you can not email or show an electronic PDF of your logs, they must be able to be printed.
This means that you either need a printer on board that can connect to your phone, or you need to record on paper for the time being.

We at Super Dispatch prefer the permanence of electronic records. They don’t feel as permanent as paper, but they are easier to keep and carry with you everywhere. Thus, our official suggestion is to log your hours electronically and keep 7 days worth of paper logs on hand in case of inspection.

ELD REQUIREMENTS

Have you seen the ELD requirement checklist on the FMCSA website? Though it’s a helpful tool, the language is pretty daunting:

ELD_requirements_checklist

We want to break this down for you. So here are 7 considerations you need to make when purchasing an ELD:

  1. The Device itself
  2. Account management
  3. The Duty Status management
  4. Location recording features
  5. Data transferring features
  6. Display features
  7. Legal certification features

THE DEVICE:

Currently there are two choices on the market for ELog devices. The first is a standalone device that has an attachment thatSuper Dispatch, Electronic Logging Device, car haulers, auto transporters plugs into your engine as well as a visible display with RODS controls.

The second choice is a device that plugs into your engine and connects (usually via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi or a physical plug) to a secondary device, such as your phone.

ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT

This sounds innocuous, but it’s very important. For company drivers, ELD’s need to have multiple accounts – one Driver and one Administrator. Drivers can make (legal) edits to their RODS on the ELD, while an Administrator can only suggest edits. Why? To save drivers from harassment.

DUTY STATUS MANAGEMENT

Like RODS, Electronic Logging Devices are required to record date, time, location, engine hours, vehicle miles and the identity of the Driver. To stay consistent across all devices, they are all also required to use Coordinated Universal Time (UTC.) UTC and RODS must be recorded at a minimum of 60 minute intervals.

From the FMCSA, these are the only recognized status categories an electronic logging device:

What are the record of duty status required by FMCSA?

LOCATION RECORDS

Like RODS, you are required to record the nearest mile marker of your duty status, so your device has to be accurate within a 1 mile radius at the point of all status changes.  When in personal use, these requirements loosen to a 10 mile radius.

But because OTR work can mean spotty internet access, Elog manufacturers have to have a way to GPS track their devices when the internet is not available. Mostly this means that Drivers are allowed to edit their location records to make them more accurate after going OFF-DUTY.

DATA TRANSFER

Just like a paper Record of Duty Status, you need to be able to produce your RODS for a DoT officer. But you are not required to print it out. An ELD can have two different transfer methods: local transfer or telematics Local data transfer can be done using Bluetooth or a USB. Telematics can be done via email or “web services.” The ELD you buy will have one or the other.

The FMCSA explained it better than we ever could through this graphic:

ELD Data Transfer requirements FMCSA

ELD Data Transfer requirements FMCSA

DISPLAY FEATURES

The legal requirements for the display of an ELD is meant to mimic a traditional RODS paper. A Driver must be able to view the RODS grid and/or recreate it in printable form on demand.

To keep from interrupting the driver, it also is required to have internal volume control (including mute.)

LEGAL CERTIFICATION FEATURES

This simply means you must be able to verify your logs in three ways:

  • Place for driver signature on RODS
  • Log verification
  • Edit verification

This was a brief break down of what the legalese on the FMCSA website actually means. Next week, we are going to get into our tips for buying ELDs and a checklist of questions you need to ask when buying.

ELD Buying Tips

Now it’s come to the buying portion of the ELD mandate. What do you do now that you know everything about the ELD? I sat down with my colleague and ELD Product Manager Mike to talk more about it.

I also have a more comprehensive post called Top 5 Questions To Ask a Salesperson When Buying an ELD. When you read it, also make sure to download our PDF Question Guide!

Do you have more questions? Let us know!

COMING UP:

HOW TO USE while driving

DATA TRANSFER

OUR TIPS for using

Controversies

Laws and History

Want to see our future videos?

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Do you want a question answered about the ELD? Let us know so we can address it next week.