The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has released an ‘ELD File Validator’” on its ELD website to help suppliers “ensure their ELD output file conforms to the technical specifications in the ELD rule,” reports Heavy Duty Trucking.
The rule, which takes effect in the U.S. in December, requires that ELDs to transmit hours-of-service information to portable computers via several methods (wireless web/email, USB2.0, and/or Bluetooth). ELDs must also provide either an on-screen display of the driver’s sequence of duty status entries or a printout of the same.
FMCSA notes that using the File Validator is “not a mandatory step of the self-certification process [for suppliers]” but it will make the process “go as smoothly as possible.”
John Seidl, transportation consultant with Integrated Risk Solutions and a former Wisconsin state trooper and FMCSA investigator, told HDT carriers can get some benefit out of the tool as well.
“When selecting a device, motor carriers should request a data file now from their ELD supplier and do their own test to ensure ELD compliance. It’s a great way to verify if a vendor that has already self-certified has a compliant data file to transfer, per the ELD rule. If the data file does not work, do you really have an ELD?”
He adds that those vendors that still have not self-certified may be able to provide the data file at this point— but “you, the customer, have to ask them.”
FMCSA also announced that it will be further “enhancing the [ELD] registration process for suppliers. The agency says that “coming soon” will be these enhancements: FMCSA’s public key; FMCSA’s email address for email submissions; WSDL/XSD for Web Services submission; Interface Control Document and Developer’s Guide; and Data Transfer test environments.
However, beyond testing for data transfers, the whole picture the device registration remains cloudy, points out HDT.
FMCSA is not routinely verifying that these devices are compliant and the agency is not revoking the registration of any devices until after the December 18 compliance date, says Avery Vise, president of compliance-support firm TransComply. Moreover, if a registered ELD ultimately is found to be non-compliant, motor carriers using it will have just eight days to replace it – although Vice says FMCSA suggests it will ‘work with affected motor carriers to establish a reasonable time frame’ for replacing non-compliant ELDs in the case of a ‘widespread issue.’
, Vise recommended that “carriers consider installing AOBRDs [automatic onboard recording devices] that could be upgraded to ELD standards without replacing hardware.
“Also,” he continued, “because carriers are incurring some risk in the case of non-compliance, they should seek language in ELD vendor contracts that provide damages in the event FMCSA revokes registration. If a vendor is unwilling to even consider such language that could be a red flag — especially in the case of vendors that don’t have an established reputation.”