Electronic Logs: A Step-By-Step Guide for Produce Shippers

There are a lot of factors that go into being a produce shipper. Whether it’s the time you’re waiting at the dock to get unloaded or the constant fight against the clock to deliver fresh products, produce shippers don’t always have it easy. With a big change in the transportation industry set to take place in December 2017, produce shippers across the country can expect to see a transformation in the way they drive and deliver their product. Read more below to find out everything you need to know when it comes to electronic logs and their effect on produce shippers.

What’s the Deal with Electronic Logs?

If you haven’t already heard, the FMCSA implemented at ELD mandate requiring all truck operators to start using electronic logging devices to track their hours and duty status starting in December 2017. This mandate was set in place to increase the safety of drivers on the road and enforce the hours of service a driver can log. With the hope to fight dozing drivers and fatal accidents on the highway, the ELD mandate will effectively get rid of all paper logging that is currently in use today.

What Does This Mean for Produce Shippers?

Produce shippers require special sets of circumstances and additional complexities when shipping their products. Transporting produce means taking precaution and extra care to prevent spoilage and considering things like harvest seasons and bumper crops. Many produce truck drivers are on a strict timeline to get their product where it needs to be before it spoils, rots and becomes unsalvageable. This means produce shippers are often exceeding their allowed hours of time logged in order to deliver quality produce. With the ELD mandate in place and electronic logs put on all vehicles, it will be impossible for drivers to exceed the hours of service limit. This could mean an increase in cost for the shippers, a decrease of pay for the drivers, and a longer wait time for produce.


Less Standby Time

A survey done by DAT solutions found that out of 257 carriers questioned, 54% reported waiting three to five hours every time they pulled up to a shipper’s dock. Nine percent reported waiting even more than five hours on average. When you take into consideration the cost of keeping an idle refrigerated truck running for long periods of time that’s a lot of time and money going down the drain. The good news is that with the new ELD mandate and strict hours of service regulations, drivers will see a decrease in wasted standby time.

An Increase of Rates and Need for Trucks

The not so good news that comes out of the ELD mandate is that with produce drivers unable to exceed the regulated hours of service and no longer driving through the night, produce will very likely see an increase in transit time. The problem is that when it comes to perishable items like produce, an increase in transit time can lead to spoilage. This means that shipping companies are going to have to hire more trucks and drivers to get the produce to its destination on time. This is going to cost the companies money, meaning they’ll have to raise their shipping prices to break even. It’s very likely that because of the electronic logs and an increase in shipping rates, consumers could see an increase in the price of produce in the near future.

Bottom Line

The ELD mandate and the implementation of electronic logs have been causing a stir across the transportation industry. There are both good sides and bad ones to enforcing drivers to use electronic logs and increasing regulation on hours of service. When it comes to produce shippers, time is money. With fewer hours available to work, there will likely be an increase in rates for shippers and produce that can have a ripple effect on entire communities.

ELD Mandate Time Line: A Look at Key Dates and Milestones for 2017 & What They Mean

The ELD mandate can be confusing at times with all its details and requirements. Luckily for you, we’re here to break down the ELD mandate timeline for 2017 and what it means for truck operators across the country.

If you’re involved in the transportation industry you’ve probably already heard about the federal rule that was implemented back in December 2015 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. This mandate requires that truck operators start using an electronic logging device to record their driving miles and duty status. The mandate explicitly states that all truck drivers must stop using paper logs and make the transition to ELD’s two years after the mandate’s introduction, December 16, 2017.

What makes the ELD mandate so confusing is that it’s being implemented in several phases over several different dates. Below we explain each date in the implementation phase, what they mean, and what the requirements are that need to be met by each date.

Here are the three important stand out dates that you need to know about the ELD mandate.

  • December 16, 2015 – Publication date. This is the date that the ELD mandate was first introduced and made public, announcing its presence but not yet having any official status.
  • February 16, 2016 – Effective date. This is the date that falls exactly 60 days after the publication date, which means the mandate is officially in the Federal Register.
  • December 18, 2017 – Compliance date. This is the date when all truck operators have to make the full transition complying with all of the mandate’s regulations. It falls two years after the first publication date.

Now that you’ve got a basic understanding of how the ELD mandate has been unfolding from its original publication date in 2015, let’s talk about its three phases.

Phase 1: Awareness and Transition Phase

This first phase in the mandate stretches over a two-year period starting on the effective date February 16, 2017, and ending on the compliance date December 18, 2017. During Phase 1, carriers and truck drivers are given time to prepare and transition to the rules of the mandate. This means that they don’t have to necessarily start using ELD’s right away, but they should start becoming familiar with how they work and comfortable with the idea of transitioning into this new way of doing things.

During Phase 1, drivers and carriers can still use any of the following in order to record their duty status:

  • Paper logs
  • Logging software
  • AOBRDS (Automatic On Board Recording Devices)
  • ELDs registered and listed on the FMCSA website

Phase 2: Phased-In Compliance Phase

The second phase is a two-year period that starts from the compliance date December 18, 2017, and ends two years later December 16, 2019. It’s important to keep this second phase in mind because the start date for it is coming up soon. During this compliance phase, carriers and truck drivers are required to eliminate all paper logs and logging software they have been previously using to record their duty status.

Starting December 18, 2017, all carriers and drivers are required to use on of the following:

  • AOBRDS that were installed before December 18, 2017
  • ELDs that are certified and registered according to the rule publication from December 16, 2015

Phase 3: Full Compliance Phase

The third and final phase of the ELD mandate starts when the second one ends on December 16, 2019. After this date, all drivers and carriers that fall under the mandate rule must be using certified and registered ELDs that comply with all the ELD regulations.

There you have it, all the important dates and phases of the ELD mandate timeline from its implementation to its effective stay. If you’re a truck operator who is going to be affected by the ELD mandate, an important date to watch out for in 2017 is the compliance date on December 18, 2017, which is also the start of Phase 2. Say goodbye to your paper logs and logging software, and hello to the future of duty status recording – the ELD!

ELD Exemptions: Who is Exempt from the Rule in 2017?

ELD Mandates and what they mean for shippers has been the talk of the industry for the past several months. Inevitably, there will be much confusion on the road to compliance.

First, what are Electronic Logging Devices anyway? You can learn more about that in our recent blog article. There’s a lot to know, but despite all these new rules and regulations, there are some minor exceptions. What are those exceptions? We break down the ELD exemptions here for you so you can get on the road and be up to code.

Who is exempt from the ELD rule?

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA):

“Drivers who use the timecard exception are not required to keep records of duty status (RODS) or use ELDs.  Additionally, the following drivers are not required to use ELDs; however, they are still bound by the RODS requirements in 49 CFR 395 and must prepare logs on paper, using an Automatic On-Board Recording Device (AOBRD), or with a logging software program when required”

Source: FMCSA website.

This includes:

Drivers who use paper RODS for not more than 8 days out of every 30-day period

If you are a driver not required to maintain Record of Duty Status (RODS), then you don’t have to comply with the ELD Mandate. What is RODS? The driver’s record of duty status, commonly known as the driver log, is the document used by the driver to record their time on the road. A driver’s RODS status is defined in 49 CFR 395.8. 

Drivers who conduct drive-away-tow-away operations, where the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered.

A driveaway-towaway operation describes any operation in which any motor vehicle, trailer or semitrailer, singly or in combination, new or used, constitutes the commodity being transported when one set or more wheels of any such vehicle are on the roadway during the course of transportation between:

  • A vehicle manufacturer’s facilities
  • Between a vehicle manufacturer and a dealership or purchaser
  • Between a dealership, or other entity selling or leasing the vehicle, and a purchaser or lessee;
  • To a motor carrier’s terminal or repair facility for a repair or disabling damage following a crash
  • To a motor carrier’s terminal or repair facility for repairs associated with the failure of a vehicle component or system; or
  • By means of a saddle-mount tow-bar

Drivers of vehicles manufactured before 2000.

In the instance that your vehicle was manufactured before the year 2000, you may be exempt. But, the ELD may use alternative sources to obtain or estimate the required vehicle parameters, in accordance with the accuracy requirements in Section 4.3.1 of the ELD rule.

Are rented or leased commercial motor vehicles exempt from the ELD rule?

No. If you are a motor vehicle carrier operating rented or leased commercial motor vehicles, you are still required to record hours of service with an ELD, no exceptions, unless the driver or commercial motor vehicle carrier is exempt.

In regards to support information requested, authorized safety officials may inspect and copy motor carrier records and request any records needed to perform their duties.

Are Canada- and Mexico-domiciled drivers required to use electronic logging devices (ELDs) when they are operating in the United States?

Yes, if you live in Canada or Mexico, drivers have to comply with US rules while driving in the United States. This includes the use of ELDs unless they have an exception. If the driver is operating in multiple jurisdictions, they’ll be able to annotate their driver RODS to denote periods of operation outside of the US.

How should an ELD record a driver’s hours of service when operating in another country such as Canada?

The ELD provider can alter a device to suit its customers’ needs/operations in accurately monitoring drivers’ hours.

Can drivers operate commercial motor vehicles equipped with ELDs if they are not required to use them due to an exception?

This is possible, yes. Even if you drive a CMV equipped with ELD technology you can still use an exception.

How can the model year of commercial motor vehicle (CMVs) be found to determine if the CMV was manufactured before 2000 for the exception related to these vehicles?

The model year information necessary to make the determination can be found in this table:

Code Year Code Year Code Year Code Year Code Year Code Year
A = 1980 L = 1990 Y = 2000 A = 2010 L = 2020 Y = 2030
B = 1981 M = 1991 1 = 2001 B = 2011 M = 2021 1 = 2031
C = 1982 N = 1992 2 = 2002 C = 2012 N = 2022 2 = 2032
D = 1983 P = 1993 3 = 2003 D = 2013 P = 2023 3 = 2033
E = 1984 R = 1994 4 = 2004 E = 2014 R = 2024 4 = 2034
F = 1985 S = 1995 5 = 2005 F = 2015 S = 2025 5 = 2035
G = 1986 T = 1996 6 = 2006 G = 2016 T = 2026 6 = 2036
H = 1987 V = 1997 7 = 2007 H = 2017 V = 2027 7 = 2037
J = 1988 W = 1998 8 = 2008 J = 2018 W = 2028 8 = 2038
K = 1989 X = 1999 9 = 2009 K = 2019 X = 2029 9 = 2039

The model year code is the 10th digit in the VIN.

If a commercial motor vehicle is equipped with a glider kit that is newer than the model year 2000, but the connections and motor vehicle components (such as the engine) are older than the model year 2000, is the vehicle exempt from the ELD rule?

No. ELD use is required for vehicles whose VINs reflects a model year of 2000 or newer. The ELD rule requires a reasonable proxy for this data if the engine control module (ECM) or ECM connectivity does not provide it. If the currently installed engine cannot support an ECM to obtain the required vehicle parameters, then the operator has to use an ELD that doesn’t rely on ECM connectivity.

Can a driver use an ELD on a commercial motor vehicle with a model year older than 2000?

Yes. However, the ELD must comply with the ELD rule’s technical specifications. The ELD may use alternative sources to obtain or estimate the required vehicle parameters, in accordance with the accuracy requirements in Section 4.3.1 of the ELD rule.