The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) recently posted an ELD file validator tool on their official website. The agency mentions that the tool can be used by individuals to check if their ELD’s output file “conforms to the technical specifications in the ELD Rule.”
With the ELD mandate implementation date just a few months away, the timing of the ELD file validator tool’s release is impeccable. While motor carriers are hustling to comply with FMCSA’s requirements, some are still worried about the validity of the ELDs they’re using.
Their anxiousness stems from the fact that they can’t ascertain if their devices have a compliant data file to transfer. With the release of the file validator tool, however, this concern has been addressed.
FMCSA also announced that new tools and features would soon be added to their website.
These enhancements will help ELD manufacturers breeze through the registration and certification process. Device developers and providers are highly encouraged by the FMCSA to use these features when checking their device.
These showcased enhancements, however, garnered mixed reactions from the trucking industry.
Some individuals support the agency’s efforts, while others believe their efforts to be futile.
The Final ELD Rule
The final ELD rule was published by the FMCSA on December 2015, with a compliance date of December 18, 2017 — which is now just a few months away.
As per the upcoming ELD mandate, most CMVs will require compliant ELDs by December 18, 2017. The ELD final ruling required these devices to provide driver RODS either via print out or on-screen display.
The legislation also mandated these devices to have the ability to transmit driver HOS (Hours of Service) information to safety enforcers.
The FMCSA’s File Validator
Uncertainty plagues users on whether the output file released by their ELDs is both compliant and compatible with the FMCSA system.
In response to the public’s concerns, the FMCSA released an online validator tool on their official website, which scans uploaded files to see if the output file released by the carriers’ ELDs meets the FMCSA’s standards.
The agency will also be releasing other added enhancements and features online. These tools would help streamline the registration and certification process of ELD developers and providers.
Here are some of the features the FMCSA is expected to release soon:
- The FMCSA’s official email for online submissions
- Developer’s guide and interface control document
- The FMCSA’s public key
- XSD/WSDL for web services submission
- Test environments for data transfer.
ELD manufacturers are currently not required to use any of these enhancements to proceed with self-certification. However, the agency strongly urges the developers to utilize the tools for a smoother registration flow.
The ELD mandate necessitates manufacturers to ascertain the conformity of their outputs to required specifications. However, the online validator only checks the file’s technical requirements and not its contents.
Public Reactions and Feedback
Different comments from experts and authorities throughout the industry came with the FMCSA’s release of the file validator tool.
President of TransComply, Avery Vise, informed Heavy Duty Trucking Magazine:
“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.”
Transportation consultant of Integrated Risk Solutions, John Seidl, also suggested that motor carriers could request a data file from their prospective ELD suppliers.
Once carriers have the data file, they can start testing it by running it through the FMCSA’s online validator tool.
He also mentions that even vendors who still haven’t certified their devices with FMCSA can still give a sample for analysis; however, customers would have to ask these providers personally.
John believes that the ELD file validator is a great tool to use when checking if the ELDs that the carriers are using (or will be using) can produce a data file that is compliant with the ELD rule.
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