When it comes to changes and government regulations, you always have to beware of the unwritten rule of unintended consequences. I’m afraid that’s what the truck leasing industry will experience when the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate finally goes into effect in December, 2017.
At the time that the ELD ruling was proposed, one of my biggest concerns was not necessarily for our full-service leasing customers. We’ll continue to work with those customers to outfit their leased trucks with agreed upon ELD equipment and software. The real issue, and one that is sure to flare up after December 2017 is, what about commercial rental trucks? Which entity is responsible for making sure the trucks are equipped with the technology? The rental company? The customer? And what is the liability for either of them? These questions need to be answered before December 2017, not after.
Technology provider: There are a number of ELD providers out there, so which one is the right one to use in the vehicle? We rent to so many different people and companies, what if the equipment in the rental isn’t compatible with the software the customer is using for the rest of their fleet? We have full service lease customers who may need a substitute vehicle while one of their leased vehicles is down, or may need extra vehicles during a particularly busy time. They will need ELDs compatible with the rest of their fleet and ones that are familiar to their drivers.
For those of us in the rental and lease industry, having to provide ELDs in all of our rental trucks is a significant expense. Not knowing which system to use just makes it all the more difficult.
Driver concerns: Right now, drivers can still use their paper logs (and should definitely keep them as backup), but after December of 2017, that option will no longer be available for any truck newer than model year 1999. After that time, what if a driver using one of the rentals isn’t familiar with the system that’s installed in that vehicle? How will they keep a legitimate log? It is, ultimately, the carrier’s and driver’s responsibility; however, customers will look to the rental company to solve this issue. And, as a rental company, what do we have to supply the driver with when the truck is returned so that they can retain their legal status?
I’m well aware that the technology could provide the solution to these concerns. As more apps for mobile devices are created and as more companies enter the market with easy-to-use mobile capability, this issue may resolve itself. However, at this point no one seems to have a clear and definitive answer when it comes to commercial rental trucks. December 2017 is not that far away and getting closer every day. Let’s hope that the answers, when they do come, will be ones that won’t cause too much disruption or expense to the rental industry.