Can I trust self-certified ELDs?

As the ELD mandate came into play, we weighed up whether you should utilize self-certified ELDs or wait for your preferred vendor to register with the FMCSA.

Can I trust self-certified ELDs?

The clock is ticking away as the deadline for the FMCSA's ELD Mandate inches closer. Fleet managers and drivers are being urged to get their ducks in a row and pick an electronic logging device (ELD).

But choosing a system, and installing and implementing one, isn't as straightforward as one might hope. In the last week of July 2016, there were just six registered devices - and all of these are self-certified ELDs - which means they may or may not end up being fully compliant with the FMCSA's requirements.

One thing everyone is clear on is that businesses should not wait until the last minute to select and start using ELDs. So how trustworthy is the ELD self-certification process? And how do you pick the right one for your fleet?

Until the FMCSA takes over the certification and registration process and FMCSA certified ELDs become available, self-certified ELDs are a necessity. The onus is on the buyers to make sure the devices they buy are indeed fully compliant with the ELD mandate. From February 2016, ELD manufacturers have been able to register and self-certify their products as meeting the ELD mandate requirements and there are only a handful of devices listed. Before committing to buying a particular device, find out what will be required to make it fully compliant, as well as how much this will cost and how such a change will be rolled out.

All they had to do was register a user account with the FMCSA, register their ELD, provide certain pieces of required information and confirm that the device meets the specifications set out in the mandate. The FMCSA will only investigate a device if they receive a complaint about it.

Many of the biggest ELD vendors aren't registered yet - they are still getting the miniscule details right, dotting their i's and crossing their t's. These manufacturers are still poring through the lengthy new mandate to be certain their devices do precisely what they'll be required to do. They are also waiting for some other vital details to be confirmed. For example, the FMCSA hasn't released access to its Electronic Record of Duty Status (ERODS) system that determines federal Hours of Service compliance. Another detail that is yet to be released is the website services address or URL to which ELDs must send information in one of the four mandated data-transfer methods.

Experts are hoping for all these challenges to be resolved by the end of this year or early 2017. This doesn't mean you have to hold off on other elements of compliance - driver and dispatcher training can still be started, for instance. Fleet managers can also opt for an ELD-ready platform with software that can simply be updated once all the facts are known. Fleets using self-certified ELDs that meet the FMCSAs existing AOBRD requirements have until 2019 to upgrade to ELD-compliant products.

Further reading: What is ELD compliance?

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