In recent weeks we’ve all seen ELDs being added to the FMCSA’s revoked list. They seem to be dropping like flies under the new scrutiny of compliance issues that the FMCSA has undertaken. So how does this happen, and how can you tell if your ELD provider is at risk of being revoked?
The FMCSA’s ELD mandate allowed providers to “self-certify”, which resulted in more than 800 ELDs on the certified ELD list in 2017 with basic testing and no 3rd party certification. While that gave drivers and carriers lots of competitive options for their hours of service logs, the downside is that not all of these ELD providers follow the requirements for compliance and allow events that put drivers in violation.
When these ELD providers are caught and revoked, it leaves drivers and carriers exposed to financial losses as well as risk of being put out-of-service for not having a logbook. These violations will also impact your CSA score.
How does the FMCSA learn that an ELD is not following regulations?
When a driver is stopped at a weigh station or during a roadside inspection, they are asked to transfer their logs to the DOT official. The transfer methods set out in the ELD mandate say what data the ELD has to send and how it should be formatted.
This data transfer sends the driver's logs to an FMCSA site where the logbook data is compiled and checked for errors or violations. Any errors caught by the system at this stage can trigger the FMCSA to look more closely at the data provided by the ELD.
All of the data that was collected by the ELD is shared with the FMCSA. This means current logs but also edit history and deleted data are all shared. All of these events are checked for compliance on the part of the driver, but also on the part of the ELD.
The driver can be in violation if their ELD isn't compliant, but there is also a technical team at the FMCSA who look at flagged provider data and send notice to the ELD company contact with the issues that are found.
What is the process for revoking ELDs?
There are a couple ways that a provider can end up on the FMCSA's revoked ELD list. The ELD provider can self-revoke their solution by no longer providing an ELD or going out of business. The FMCSA can also revoke an ELD for not meeting the requirements set in the ELD mandate.
If the FMCSA finds issues with the ELD they will give the ELD provider a significant amount of time to resolve issues and correct problems. Sometimes the issues are small, like different interpretations of the requirements, or a formatting problem. Sometimes the issues are glaring and require an infrastructure change.
For ELD providers with a dedicated dev team and in-house production, these changes can be made pretty quickly. For ELD providers designed for sales instead of compliance, the process of correcting issues can be long and difficult.
When an ELD data transfer is found to have errors the FMCSA technical team will highlight the errors and request a plan of action to fix the issues within 72 hours. An example of an email from the FMCSA is below:
If there is no reply to the email it is likely that more attempts will be made to get a plan of action and if nothing comes back the provider will be revoked.
If a plan of action is developed and presented the FMCSA will be pretty lenient and allow the provider the time they need to take the corrective action.
What happens when an ELD is put on the FMCSA's revoked list?
Once the FMCSA has found an ELD to be non-compliant with regulations, the ELD is placed on the FMCSAs revoked ELDs list. This list lets DOT know which ELDs are not certified and to issue out of service violations for not having a required logbook.
Once an ELD is placed on the revoked list the FMCSA will send an email letting subscribers know that a new ELD has been added to the list. There is a 60-day window for carriers and drivers who are currently using the revoked ELD to find a new ELD provider. After the 60-day window lapses, any driver who is still using the revoked ELD will be issued a violation for not having a logbook and possibly placed out-of-service.
An ELD provider who has been added to the revoked list can still correct the issues found by the FMCSA for non-compliance and become a certified ELD again. However, by this point the provider has been given a lot of time to address the issues and is not likely to correct the actions. Also, trust in the provider is lost by the customers and are likely to avoid additional risk by going with someone else.
What are some red flags that an ELD might get revoked?
These are some of the things to watch out for when looking for a good ELD provider, and to know whether your current ELD is compliant or at risk of getting placed on the revoked list.
You can edit automatically recorded drive time on the ELD
A big selling point for a lot of drivers and carriers is that they want the ability to edit the drive time on the ELD. If an ELD provider is able to promise that their solution will allow this, it is guaranteed to get revoked.
It is specifically stated in the ELD mandate that no user can edit drive time collected by the ELD while the truck was in motion. If you are able to edit the drive time, then this should be the biggest red flag that you have a non-compliant ELD.
A common example of drive time editing is when a driver forgets to indicate Personal Use before moving their truck to a different parking spot. If you are able to edit that Driving status to PC or Off Duty, or if you are able to delete the status altogether, this should be cause for concern.
White labeled ELD providers
ELD white labeling is when one company sells an ELD made and supported by a different company. It's an easy way for a company to break into the e-log market, but it's not great for their customers. These white-labeled products will be slower to keep up with regulation changes and fixing issues.
If a change is made to regulations or issues are found in the hardware or software then the white labeled ELD provider has to reach out to their supplier to make changes which can take longer to achieve if at all. Which leads into our next red flag.
ELD support is poor and can't fix issues
If an ELD provider offers poor support that does not solve problems this can be a red flag. If you are unable to get in touch with a person to help with ELD malfunctions or data diagnostic events this could mean that the provider has provided you with a system that was only intended to get you to buy but not truly keep you compliant.
Additionally, if support seems to be reading from a script and providing more excuses than solutions this should raise alarms. If they are not able to address your issues it is likely they will not be able to address issues brought up by the FMCSA and that could start the revoking process.
No API ability to integrate with other apps
An Application Programming Interface (API) is an interface that allows data to be shared between applications. API's are becoming more widely used because they allow 3rd parties to build applications to use data collected from another source to be used to perform functions.
An example of how an API could be used with ELD's is an insurance company offering discounts for good driving behavior. Since insurance companies do not want to spend time and resources making their own ELD solution they can request data from a carriers ELD using an API key. This will allow the insurance company to make a call over the internet to request data collected by the ELD that the insurance company can use to determine that the driver is being safe on the road.
If an ELD provider does not have an open API available this can be a red flag that their solution does not want to play with others or is not operating inside of the regulations to want to share the data.
The ELD provider's website does not stay updated with industry information
A great ELD provider should be an expert in the trucking industry. There should be lots of content about how to use ELDs to improve your company, how to navigate issues and updates on new regulations that are active or in the works.
You want to make sure that the provider that you go with is taking care of these issues on your behalf and providing you with a system that is always compliant with new and existing regulations. If you are on an ELD provider's website and there is no content available about the trucking industry you will want to proceed with caution.