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So, You Have to Comply with ELDs... Now What?

Tow Operators LogoELD Implementation for the Tower

By Brian J Riker

By now I am sure you have heard about electronic logging devices (ELDs) and hours of service (HOS) regulations that are affecting the towing industry. I am sure you also are aware that

TRAA has been working to mitigate the effect these regulations have on our industry. Unfortunately, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration recently denied the Association's petition for exemption. Our efforts are not over, although in the meantime towers will need to comply with the current regulations.

Fortunately for the bulk of the industry electronic logging devices are not a big issue. Most light-duty towers can benefit from the short-haul exception to logging requirements, as can some heavy towers. The companies most likely to be affected are the multi-location companies, ones that cover large areas, or those that also offer more traditional trucking services such as equipment transport.

In its simplest form, ELDs are only required if you are currently required to complete paper log books more than 8 times in any 30-day period. This is per driver, not per company or truck. There are other exceptions based on commodity hauled or the age of your equipment. See my previous article on Hours of Service Compliance: Best Practices for Towing Companies for more detailed information about the exceptions. Contrary to popular belief, the towing industry is not exempt from hours of service compliance, even when operating locally. Yes, there is a police ordered tow exception, however, it is very limited in scope and does not provide relief beyond the "emergency" which makes it practically useless.

So, how does a tower implement ELDs once they have determined they must use them? The goal is to come into compliance swiftly with a minimal disruption to normal operation. In reality that is harder than it sounds, but with a good ELD vendor it is manageable. Before simply choosing the lowest cost or most readily available device you should evaluate your overall digital communication system. Now may be the time to upgrade devices or increase integration between your truck location services, in-truck dispatch system, and the ELD system. Of course, you also want a vendor that understands your unique business needs and is responsive to your questions. Towing is not "one size fits all" and neither should your ELD be.

Another important consideration is the ability to service and expand the system. The regulations only provide 8 days to repair a malfunctioning ELD before the vehicle it is installed in must be placed out of service. Also, it is not cost effective to purchase a system that can't grow with your business. Determine if the system is something you can self-install or does it require a visit from their technician every time you have a problem or want to move it to a new truck?

Once you have chosen your system, install the devices in the entire fleet before you cancel any other systems you have been using. There will be some hiccups during the installation and are expected when you first start using any new technology. You don't want to find yourself with no means to track or communicate with your trucks. Make sure your vendor will assist with training both your drivers and operations crew. Many providers have excellent training for the office staff but not the drivers. It is usually the drivers that struggle the most with these systems.

Do not bring all your trucks online at the same time. Again, install the system on all trucks but bring your trucks online gradually to limit the problems. I suggest starting with the least critical trucks and working towards the most critical or busiest trucks.

Assure your drivers that the new system is not to punish or babysit them, it is simply to comply with new Federal regulations. This will ease their apprehension, and there will be resistance – drivers do not like these systems, especially older or less tech savvy drivers.

After installation - but prior to the first use, have a refresher course on hours of service compliance. Some of the biggest issues with ELDs in daily use revolve around incorrect understanding of the hours of service regulations. This training is needed for both your drivers and dispatch staff. Often dispatchers simply do not understand how a driver may manage their available time, or they don't understand how the break and rest periods actually work.

Expect mistakes and log violations in the beginning. Unless your drivers are already familiar with using ELDs they will forget to document things or input them wrong. This will even result in a few out of service situations, possibly even DOT citations. Be prepared with contingency plans to cover loads and shifts due to technical errors that can't be edited or erased. This is perhaps the biggest downfall of the ELD system. In an effort to minimize cheating they have removed the ability to correct honest mistakes.

Make use of all the features, it will give you the best return on investment. Many companies resist ELDs because they think it will just be another expense, and if you don't take full advantage of all the features that is right. The better ELD systems have maintenance alerts, fuel mileage, state mileage, even driver behavior monitoring built-in. If your fleet needs to file mileage reports for the International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) or International Registration Plan (IRP) the time savings using automated reports can be amazing. Some insurance companies will take driver behavior monitoring into consideration when deciding what your premiums will be. Even without discounts, the savings from fewer accidents and truck repairs will offset a significant portion of the system's cost.

If you don't already have a digital dispatch platform most ELD systems have at least a basic one that includes two-way messaging, vehicle location and other basic tools to increase fleet utilization. Now may also be the time to revisit your policies on take home trucks and unnecessary movement. With every minute of driving time being tracked, it may make business sense to keep the trucks staged where they are most often used. Not only does this reduce response times, it also reduces exposure to risk by eliminating, or at least minimizing, the time on the highway which in turn reduces your chances of being in a crash.

In summary, cheap is not always the best way to go; even with a system you don't want to use but are being forced into using. There are many business benefits to using ELD systems when the proper system is chosen - if you take advantage of its features. Successful integration of electronic logging devices will require a change in how you plan for call volume and even how you dispatch your drivers. There will be times that your preferred driver simply does not have the available hours to complete an assignment and you will need a backup plan. Prior to implementation of an ELD system, be sure you have evaluated your call volumes, available resources, and have made any corrections needed, otherwise you will find yourself unable to service your customers on-time.

About the Author – Brian J. Riker is President of Fleet Compliance Solutions, LLC and Director of Transportation Compliance for eComply.com®. He is a third-generation tower with more than 25 years of experience in the ditch. Brian specializes in helping towers and other non-traditional fleets navigate the complex world of regulatory compliance. He works with several state associations as well as TRAA. You can read his bi-weekly column in Tow Industry Week or find him presenting educational seminars at towing industry shows throughout the year.

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TDLR proposes Vehicle Towing & Booting Administrative Rules

"TDLR is proposing new rules for vehicle RELOCATIONS ON PRIVATE PROPERTY. Please read these carefully and share with any of your private property customers that ask you to relocate vehicles on their property. Public comments are due June 4 if you have any concerns with the new requirements. The proposed rules will be discussed and you can testify on them at the June 18 Advisory Board meeting in Austin. It will be held at 2:00 p.m. at 1106 Clayton Lane, Austin, TX."

TDLR proposes Vehicle Towing and Booting Administrative Rules

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation proposes amendments to the Vehicle Towing and Booting program (16 Texas Administrative Code, Chapter 86, §86.705; and proposed repeal of §86.213). The proposed amendments and repeal implement changes from Senate Bill 1501 and Senate Bill 2065, 85th Legislature, Regular Session (2017), for the Vehicle Towing and Booting program. Collectively, these bills eliminate the towing operator training license and establish standards of conduct for tow operators engaging in the non-consent relocation of vehicles from one area on a parking facility to another area on the same parking facility.
The proposed rules are published in the May 4, 2018, issue of the Texas Register (43 TexReg 2688). The Department will accept comments on the proposal until June 4, 2018.
The Department encourages anyone interested in the Vehicle Towing and Booting program to review the rule proposal online. Comments may be submitted by email to erule.comments@tdlr.texas.gov.

FREE ONLINE SERVICE GAINING POPULARITY AMONG TOW COMPANIES AND LAW ENFORCEMENT

eimpound
FREE ONLINE SERVICE GAINING POPULARITY AMONG TOW COMPANIES AND LAW ENFORCEMENT

Eimpound’s new feature uploads paper notices and documents for electronic notification


Las Vegas, NV — Launched in 2017, eimpound.com is a free web service allowing law enforcement and tow providers to electronically identify and notify lien holders and owners. Its newest feature allows users to upload paper notices and documents for electronic distribution to lien holders and secured parties; a significant addition, as all states require this as part of the notification process.

 

Approximately 1500 users across the United States and Canada use eimpound, and operators report they are thrilled with the no-cost service. The site is easy to use:

 

  • Users just go to the website (www.eimpound.com) and enter a VIN or tag. If the information exists in the eimpound internal lien record database, the user receives an e-receipt with contact information for the lien holder. Eimpound also sends the lien holder an electronic notification if there’s a match in the database. 

 

  • If the database doesn’t have it, eimpound keeps searching – for no cost.

 

  • If the desired information isn’t immediately available in the eimpound database, eimpound pays to search for and retrieve it from other databases across all 50 states and North America. The original requester receives the information on the registered owner and lien holder within two business days of their original search. In Canada, the eimpound team pays for a PPSA search, saving these costs for the tow provider.

 

Towing services and law enforcement use eimpound a variety of ways: VINs or tags can be entered one at a time, by batch file, or through an automated batch feed on a timely basis (daily, weekly, monthly). There’s nothing to lose: if there is a match and notification, great. If there is no match, nothing lost. And even when eimpound takes on the cost and effort of an additional search, the service is still completely free for all users.

 

 

Free app for scanning and loading VINS

 

Eimpound also offers an app for Apple and Android devices; it’s free to download and free to use, just like the online service! The app allows users to scan a VIN with their phone or tablet and tap into all the benefits of the eimpound website. All you do is line up the red line of the app scanner across the VIN barcode (not the VIN numbers). The app recognizes the barcode, takes a scan and sends the code to eimpound. (It doesn’t take an image of the VIN) Confirmation is displayed immediately on the screen, and that’s all it takes.

 

Search for “eimpound” on Google Play or the App Store, or download from:

 

https://play.google.com/store/apps/developer?id=eimpound.com+powered+by+Locator+Technologies

 

https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/eimpound/id1136904380?mt=8

 

Eimpound encourages users to let us know whatever we can do to improve the eimpound experience.

 

ABOUT EIMPOUND

Headquartered in Las Vegas, Nevada, eimpound is powered by Locator Technologies and has over 35 million U.S. lien holders’ liens and Canadian secured party records in its database. Locator Technologies also powers AutomobileMonitor.com and LocatorTechnologies.com, providing electronic notifications and updates to lien holders and insurers on the vehicles they care about. For or more information, visit eimpound.com, www.AutomobileMonitor.com or LocatorTechnologies.com.

Contact Info

  • Southwest Tow Operators
  • 660 N Central Expressway, Suite 230
  • Plano, Texas 75074
  • Toll Free: (866) 320-9300

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