Tom Bray - Industry Consultant - J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.
October 05 , 2018
In the past, auditing logs was a matter of reviewing all incoming paper logs for form and manner and over-hours violations, driving time, duty cycles, and manually counting the breaks. Then, auditors selected specific drivers for falsification checks using supporting documents. But this auditing process was time consuming, and if a violation was discovered, it was usually days or weeks after the event, rendering discipline and correction almost a mute point.
With electronic logs, the process is vastly different. In most cases, systems automatically audit logs for form and manner violations and over-hours violations. An auditor simply needs to run a report and then review questionable logs to determine whether violations actually exist. Sounds simple, but it’s a task often overlooked, just as some fleets chose to skip paper log auditing.
Having an auditor verify electronic log violations and discuss the valid ones with the drivers is what stops future violations from occurring. If drivers believe no one is checking the logs or that there are no consequences for violating the rules, they have no reason to comply with them. Worse, they may realize they can falsify their records without fear of being caught and may be willing to take even more liberties. Essentially, if you’re not auditing electronic, you could end up with a significant increase in hours-of-service violations, with many of the violations being for false logs.
To help keep hours-of-service violations to a minimum, you should be performing at least three types of ELog audits: over-hours violations, unassigned drive time, and edits.
In terms of over-hours violations, if your driver was using an exemption that allowed the driver to exceed a limit and the driver noted this on his record, the next step is to verify the exception was used appropriately. For example, if the driver exceeded the driving limit by one hour due to using the adverse conditions exception at §395.1(b), the auditor needs to check that the condition was one that could not have been known at the time of dispatch. If the driver went over hours and no explanation was included in the record, the auditor must consider it a violation and immediately discuss it with the driver. In both cases, the driver may already have been notified of the violation when it happened.
If it is an actual violation, the key for your auditor is notifying the driver the next day that the company is aware of the violation. Counseling and correcting the driver should follow. If the company is not doing this, drivers may believe the company is not watching for form and manner and over-hours violations, which could lead to an increase in violations, and the last thing any company wants.
Most ELD systems have either a report or a system location where unassigned driving time can be viewed. An auditor or safety person should be assigned the responsibility of investigating unassigned driving time daily. The investigations should include:
If the vehicle was in a position where only one driver could have been driving it (or it is clear which driver the unassigned driving time belongs to) and the driver operating the vehicle during the unassigned period was up against a limit, you have more than likely found a driver that used logging out (or logging in late) to falsify.
There are cases where a driver legitimately forgets to log in or logged out early and unexpectedly had to do more driving. The key is determining whether the driver took advantage of using the unassigned time to operate over a limit. Whether intentional or not, unassigned driving events must be addressed and future instances prevented.
Identifying and stopping unassigned events is critical, even if it involves a driver’s honest mistake. As with over hours violations, if the drivers figure out you’re not watching unassigned drive time or not catching them when they log out and drive, you will have an explosion in the number of unassigned driving events, with many of those being false logs.
When using an ELD, drivers have full edit rights. The only data points they cannot edit are driving time, intermediate data captures (done once per hour when driving), login and log-out records, engine start up and shut down records, and malfunction records. However, even when a driver can make edits, he or she still may not edit a record to create a false log.
To audit for falsifications with edits, look for edits involving changing on-duty time to off-duty time. Each time this happens, your auditor needs to:
Four more additional electronic log audits you can do are malfunctions, special driving categories use, minimal on-duty time, and form and manner. To learn more about these audits, download our free whitepaper 7 ELog Audits Every Fleet Should Perform.
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