Now that the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate is in effect, owner operators are reporting a plethora of frustrations with the quirks of their ELDs. Though plenty of new ELD users report no significant issues, others have experienced problems such as software glitches, dropped Bluetooth connections, and unresponsive customer service departments.
There have been reports of service outages, lack of access to back-office portals and flaws in wireless data-transfer functionality at roadside that have rendered ELDs unusable. Other drivers have detailed server issues, unresponsive in-cab units, and no mileage records during server migration.
Owner operators are now dependent on ELD equipment to function properly. There are very specific guidelines that have been mandated by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA); it is up to us to hold ELD suppliers accountable so they ensure their products remain in compliance.
In a report titled “Electronic Logging Devices and Hours of Service Supporting Documents: Frequently Asked Questions”, the FMCSA released a list of frequently-encountered issues that have been reported by owner operators, fleets, and drivers.
It’s important to understand that being out of compliance on any of the below-mentioned issues could result in a device being investigated and possibly removed from the list of registered devices. Furthermore, as of April 1, 2018, specific violations of the ELD mandate can lead to out-of-service penalties.
Here are 6 of the most commonly reported ELD issues.
1. Output Files Not Pre-Configured
The FMCSA requires that ELDs be pre-configured with output file recipient information, specifically both a web service as well as the FMCSA email address. It is imperative that an email or output file is never sent to a safety official or the FMCSA. To learn more about transfer methods, see ELD Rule 188.8.131.52, 184.108.40.206(b)(1), and 220.127.116.11(c).
2. Output File Contains Unacceptable Field Data
Drivers must submit an output file that contains specific field values that include acceptable ranges that are checked by the FMCSA file validator system. When there are missing fields, or the fields contain invalid values, safety officials will not accept the file. The types of issues that are frequently seen include:
- Incorrect field size (i.e. Shipping Document Number, Trailer Number or CMV VIN)
- Invalid field ranges (Elapsed Engine Hours, Accumulated Vehicle Miles)
- Missing fields that are required (Event Sequence ID Number, CMV Order Number, Last Name, Carrier Name)
- Incorrect file and line data check values
- Invalid characters
- Invalid dates, times or numbers
3. Output File Contains Invalid Delimiters
Formatting of the output file must include comma separators. Lines must be separated with carriage returns . If your ELD output file has a value that includes a comma or code in it, the rule requires that these be replaced with a semi-colon.
4. Output File is Not in the Driver’s Home Time Zone
According to ELD Rule 7.8 and 7.40, the date and time listed in the output file must be reported in the time zone of the driver’s home terminal, even though the date and time are recorded in UTC. If the output file is not formatted for the correct time zone, the safety official will not receive the correct data. This can be checked by running your ELD output file through the FMCSA file validator or submit a test to the web services test environment.
5. Submitting Less Than 30 Days of Records-of-Duty Status Reports
During a roadside inspection, there must be a record of the previous 24-hour period, previous consecutive 7-days and 30 days’ worth of records-of-duty status reports during the 6-month record retention period, as specified by the safety official. For more information, see ELD Rule 4.9.2(b).
6. Set of Data Transfer Option is Incomplete
Your ELD product supplier must offer support for data transfer through either local transfer (must be BOTH USB and Bluetooth) options and telemetrics (web services and email). For more information, see ELD Rule 4.9.2.
Understandably, transferring from a paper logging system to an electronic one has been frustrating for some drivers. Take the time to ensure your device is properly set up to eliminate some of the stress and reduce the risk of ELD penalty enforcement.
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