Mark Schedler - Sr. DOT Editor - J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc.
February 09 , 2018
It’s been nearly two months since the ELD mandate deadline. Were you ready? If you were well prepared, congratulations! If you took the last-minute approach to implementing your devices and training, you may be scrambling now.
The next steps for carriers that weren’t properly prepared for the transition are critical. The start date for full enforcement is fast approaching. Effective April 1, 2018, drivers will be placed out of service and Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) points will be assessed for ELD-related violations.
It may help to know a few of the recurring enforcement themes we’ve identified since the deadline and takeaway’s you can focus on over the next 6 weeks so your drivers are prepared for enforcement on April 1st:
Resolution #1 – Know the Requirements of the ELog Device
This may sound basic, but drivers must be certain of which device they are using, AOBRD or ELD, and understand the requirements for the respective device. If you or the vendor didn’t provide adequate instruction on the actual device in the vehicle, this can — and is — resulting in miscommunication with enforcement. If you’re confused, check out our post AOBRD vs ELDs: What’s the Difference?
Resolution #2 – Incorrect Citations Due to Confusion over ELD and AOBRD Rules
There are reports of drivers with AOBRDs being cited (but not fined) for ELD-related violations. The violations have been primarily for “failure to transfer data,” when, in fact, AOBRDs must only display or print the required hours-of-service information. If your driver was incorrectly cited, the citation should be contested via the DATAQs process even though there is no CSA point impact until April 1, 2018. A pattern of ELD-related violations will be looked upon unfavorably in court and by insurance companies, regardless of CSA point values. You can get more information and request a DataQ on the FMCSA DataQs site.
Resolution #3 – Insufficient Vendor Support & Product Issues
There are many vendors and models on the FMCSA ELD registry to choose from and blogs are filling up with unhappy stories of broken vendor promises and long waits for customer service responses. Along with having a compliant device, customer support is one of the most important aspects of the vendor decision. Carriers are now experiencing the reality of their vendor’s customer support.
Driver frustration with ELDs and AOBRDs can be reduced by a vendor with a good support team and online self-serve resources. A vendor with a strong track record in the AOBRD/ELD business is essential to a successful transition.
Resolution #4 – Company ELog Policies & Procedures Prevent HOS & Operational Issues
The hours-of-service regulations have not changed, yet electronic logs are highlighting issues that were hidden with paper logs, including drivers running out of hours before reaching a safe place to park. The burden is on the back office to consider drivers’ available hours and the expected hours for a trip, including potential delays at customers. Dispatching procedures must provide guidance on how to handle situations when there isn’t enough capacity to handle “priority” loads. Drivers cannot make the problem disappear.
Create a safety procedure that addresses situations where a driver could be forced to leave a customer with insufficient hours to make it to a park location. Personal conveyance or “off-duty driving” cannot currently be used as the back-up plan. If drivers run out of hours and must leave a location after failing to gain approval to park there, the electronic log must reflect the actual “on-duty driving” that occurred. Instruct drivers to enter detailed annotations with the reason for any exceptions used or hours’ violations. Trends of violations are an audit concern, but an occasional well-documented instance of being over hours shows that you aren’t allowing continual unsafe practices. For additional resources and guidance on creating electronic logging policies and procedures, download our ELD Policies & Procedures: The Foundation of ELog Success whitepaper.
There is still time to provide additional training on your electronic logging system, hours of service, and new procedures, to mitigate negative impacts of your transition. Starting April 1st, violations with ELD-related CSA points will add up quickly and drivers in violation can be put out of service, both of which are costly and pose a risk to your customer base. There are many carriers operating efficiently with their drivers on electronic logging. You, too, can be successful.
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