Samuel Mayfield, a retired officer with the Arizona Department of Public Safety who spent more than a decade in commercial vehicle enforcement, has advice for truckers concerned about the upcoming electronic logging device (ELD) mandate.

“It is going to be a great thing for trucking,” said Mayfield, a U.S. Army veteran whose lengthy resume includes have been a certified instructor with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. He believes the mandate will long be remembered for lifting the entire trucking industry “into the 21st century.”

Mayfield, now a FMCSA compliance specialist at FleetUp and safety consultant and educator with Academic Carrier Education Services, shared advice for truckers and fleet managers on how to select the right ELD, and what to expect during roadside inspections after the mandate takes effect Dec. 18.

He said he has no doubt the mandate will improve overall safety and productivity for truckers, and any further delay “is just going to make things worse, in terms of how the mandate is viewed.”

Speaking from his law enforcement background, he views ELD opponents as the ones who most likely “shouldn’t be cheating [on their log books] in the first place.” Instead, he said, truckers should consider an ELD as their “personal assistant.”

“The device will do nothing but help you be complaint with hours of service. They should look at it like a benefit instead of a chain around the neck. It will help you get past the frustration and the changes quicker, and be more effective as a driver.”

Mayfield said he is well aware there is confusion surrounding the mandate, some of which he chalked up to unsubstantiated and baseless rumors. He voiced support for the decision by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance to institute a soft enforcement and education period, and not pull truckers out of service for ELD violations until April.

He suggested past history has shown roadside inspectors and other members of the law enforcement community are often better trained and more prepared for regulatory and technological changes than commercial drivers. With that in mind, he provided a few tips to minimize potential pitfalls in the coming months:

  • Avoid Bluetooth-only ELD options because a loss of connectivity can cause data to unknowingly disappear.
  • Do not rely on price alone in making a decision. Instead, focus on the interface for drivers and fleet managers to ensure it is user friendly, and includes an easy-to-understand user manual. “The more difficult to figure out the ELD device, the more frustrated [drivers] are going to get, and the more they will wish they didn’t have the device and won’t look for opportunities to improve,” he said.
  • Fleets should take the time to read the regulation, rather than relying on what they are hearing. Executives should not be afraid to reach out to a consultant or expert on technical aspects that are unclear.

Additionally, Mayfield said some ELD devices may not be fully compliant, and blamed some manufacturers for not being completely educated on the details. His advice included:  

  • Truckers should not be able to edit driving time on their own, even though some existing devices to allow it.
  • Original records must be retained, even if a manager has made an approved adjustment.
  • Data from an ELD device should be able to be transferred not only by e-mail, but also through other web services and telematics devices. Only being able to transmit by e-mail could be considered a violation, Mayfield said.
  • The ELD must automatically track and report undocumented driving, such as if a trucker begins a shift without logging into the system.