If all or part of your fleet is leased or on short-term rental, what are your responsibilities when it comes to ELD compliance?
December 18, 2017, will get here all too soon and unless your drivers fall under the few allowable exemptions (drivers of vehicles manufactured before model year 2000; drivers who drive for a fleet that travels intrastate only; or drivers who keep RODS no more than 8 days during a 30-day period), you should have already started on making your fleet ELD compliant.
Whether you have one truck or a fleet of 100 or more, unless you fall under one of the exemptions listed above, every vehicle in your fleet must be equipped with a FMCSA-approved ELD by December 18, 2017. If some of your trucks are already equipped with compliant AOBRDs or EOBRs, you have until December 2019, to change that equipment over to an approved ELD.
It’s important to remember that not only must your vehicles be equipped, but you’ll need time to train drivers and others in your company to work with the telematics, so the sooner you begin to make your fleet ELD-compliant, the more likely you are to avoid any possible repercussions. Some may question whether the new administration in D.C., with its views on regulations, might possibly roll back or delay the mandate, but depending on that could leave your company at a severe disadvantage if all is left in place.
What about leased vehicles and short-term rentals?
Many companies lease their vehicles or may have a hybrid fleet of leased and purchased trucks. The important thing to note is that there is no FMCSA exception for leased or rented CMVs. The responsibility for making these leased vehicles ELD-compliant rests on the customer, not the leasing company. Customers can, of course, negotiate with the leasing company to equip the leased vehicles with ELDs as part of the rental agreement but it is still the fleet owner’s responsibility to make sure it happens.
It is also your responsibility to ensure that the installed ELD in the leased vehicle is not just compliant with FMCSA rules; you also need to ensure that the equipment is compatible with the system being used by the rest of your fleet. The reality is however, that although the technology is constantly advancing, at this point in time, telematics systems are not compatible across all platforms. Incompatibility means that often the telematics system won’t be fully operational and will ultimately by overridden by the customer’s existing ELD system. And this won’t be changing soon since OEMs, themselves, admit that ELD interoperability is probably years away.
This situation is even more problematic when it comes to short-term truck rentals. No matter how well you maintain the vehicles in your fleet, repair needs arise, breakdowns occur, and you may need to rent a truck to take the place of the down vehicle for a short amount of time. Or your company needs additional trucks on a seasonal basis. The way this mandate is written, you would still need to make sure the rental is ELD-compliant. Yet most telematics contracts are usually on a yearly basis so this becomes an unnecessary and burdensome cost.
It’s for this reason that TRALA has been working very diligently to help customers who need short-term rentals. Just last week, the FMCSA published in the Federal Register TRALA’s petition asking for a five-year enforcement exemption from the ELD mandate specifically for short-term rentals. According to TRALA, now that the petition has been published, there is a 30-day comment period for those who are either pro or con for this exemption. We, of course, support this exemption since without it; our customers can face an unfair disadvantage if they find themselves in need of a short-term rental. The final decision from the FMCSA should come around on June 1 of this year.
Whether you agree or disagree that the ELD mandate is a good thing, for certain situations (lease and short-term rentals), the mandate definitely puts an additional burden on fleet owners.
About the Author: Victoria Kresge is vice president of dedicated services for NationaLease, and is responsible for growing the organization’s dedicated services business, both with new prospects and existing customers. Krege’s experience includes serving as director of dedicated sales for C. R. England and managing and growing the tri-state New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania sales markets for Roadway Express. You can read her blogs at www.blog.nationalease.com.