“Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.”
-President Ronald Reagan
Starting December 18, 2017 (exactly 273 days from this post’s publication date), you will need to know, and record, every hour that every one of your drivers is on the road. To track those hours, the trucks in your fleet will need to be outfitted with electronic logging devices (ELDs). Welcome to the world of the ELD Mandate.
This administrative nightmare is brought to you by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. If you thought you got into the fleet management business to move freight, surprise! You now get to count hours. Keeping track of that much data is a full-time job for, likely, several employees. That is, unless you’re using fleet management software with fleet analytics.
Fleet Analytics Can Make The ELD Mandate A Non-Issue
I’m going to be very daring and guess that most fleet managers—nay, all fleet managers—don’t want to be fined up to $8,000 for violating ELD rules.
To avoid watching Washington and 7,999 of his closest buddies cross the metaphorical Delaware of your bank account, you’ll need to track all the hours logged by your drivers. Fortunately, there are fleet management software solutions that can help you with that.
ClearPath GPS is one vendor that already has an ELD mandate solution. I spoke with Steve Wells, managing partner of ClearPath, about how ClearPath’s telematics can help. Telematics technology like GPS can determine how many hours a driver’s been on the road.
“When customers run into problems with employee pay and hours, GPS tracking…can provide good data points for wage compliance, that can be very helpful for small business owners,” Wells said. ClearPath records when a vehicle is moving and when it’s stationary.
ClearPath’s ELD solution can also help prevent regulatory non-compliance. “If you’ve got a driver coming up on compliance regulations, ClearPath can alert you, so you don’t get into a situation where someone is halfway through a route, and has to stop,” Wells said.
Rather than disrupt a route, you’ll be able to plan with the ELD mandate in mind: “You can say’ ‘I need to pull that guy over earlier’, or ‘I need another driver there,’ but you’ve got to have that data, so you can make management decisions before you have problems,” Wells adds. Instead of reacting to a rule, you can design a proactive strategy.
Telogis is another vendor with an ELD solution. Telogis Compliance reduces the hassle of maintaining proper logs of drivers’ hours. Telogis Compliance automatically keeps track of your employees’ hours behind the wheel. Instead of a driver keeping track of a paper record of hours worked, not to mention the pain of all the paperwork involved, they can just start the engine and go. It’s less time spent on regulations and more time spent on the job.
Fleet Analytics Can Help You With Fuel Taxes
2015 (the most recent year for which data is available) was a lucrative one for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The FMCSA collected over $33 million for violations. Looking over the spreadsheet of individual fines is, frankly, scary. The majority run into four or five digits, with a few penalties jumping to six figures.
If you want to avoid those sorts of fines, you’ll need to make sure you’re compliant with not just the ELD mandate, but other regulations, like fuel taxes. Calculating fuel taxes, especially across state lines (which, inconveniently, have different fuel taxes), takes time and effort.
Rather than assigning someone in an office to tackle this task, fleet analytics can track the data and account for the changes in taxes that come when your drivers cross state lines. One company that uses fleet analytics noted that they’ve “saved approximately 30 – 40 hours per quarter” on paperwork by having their telematics software “automatically calculate fuel tax activity.” Fleet analytics can also help you get money back. Some fleets are already using the same information they capture with telematics to maximize fuel tax reimbursements.
Fuel taxes can also help with other fuel regulations. The International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA), which covers the 48 continental United States and Canada, is another regulation that requires you to calculate fuel taxes. With telematics-enabled fleet analytics, however, you can automate the complicated process of figuring out how much you owe.
Fleet Analytics Can Help With DVIR Inspections
Don’t get pencil whipped.
Though pencil whipping sounds like a College Bowl team enforcement tactic, pencil whipping doesn’t involve being beaten savagely by a bunch of No. 2 Fabers. Pencil whipping is when drivers breeze through the list of things on their driver vehicle inspection reports (DVIRs). Rather than paying attention to each item, they rush through, possibly missing things that could cost the company.
Instead of loading the extra labor of those reports on your employees, the right fleet analytics software can ensure DVIRs are easy to take care of. Omnitracs offers a DVIR solution that records your inspections, then stores that information in the cloud. The data’s easy to record, easy to access, and, should you be audited, it’s already in a secure, organized location.
Forward Thinking Systems also offers a DVIR solution that makes inspections easy. Its Digital DVIR makes it easy to record the sort of information that keeps fines at bay. An added plus is the ability to record visually. You can take photos of problem spots and then write up annotations to go with them, making your inspections easier to read. Another feature that prevents pencil whipping? Forward Thinking’s inspections record how long a driver takes checking over the rig.
Fleet Analytics, Or Regulations, I Missed
Do you use a fleet analytics solution to help keep up with regulations? Maybe even one I didn’t get here? If so, please leave a comment below mentioning what’s worked (or hasn’t) for you. It will help other readers in their quest to avoid getting hammered by fines.
Alternately, are there any regulations you’ve found particularly troublesome? Better yet, are there any solutions you’ve found to meeting and beating those rules? Let me (and more importantly, other readers) know in the comments below.
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