More than unsafe driving and traffic violations, most drivers have a hard time complying with hours of service (HOS) regulations. HOS compliance is one of the CSA BASICs, and keeping a low score in this category is often the cause of a lot of frustration across the industry.
Fixing hours of service problems are often a key way to keep safety scores in check and control the frequency and severity of roadside inspections.
Keeping track of the complicated rules surrounding a driver’s hours is troublesome for many carriers and drivers. This is reflected by the fact that the majority of driver violations from roadside inspections are HOS related. What seems like the smallest infraction counts towards drivers being considered too fatigued to drive by an inspector.
Thankfully, there are some simple steps that can go a long way toward improving HOS compliance. Best of all, it’s often fairly easy to implement without costing a fortune.
Electronic logbook apps that take advantage of the massive computing power many of us already carry in our pockets provide an excellent replacement to paper logbooks. These apps are often free and can be used to help eliminate all HOS-related driver violations.
Here are the most common HOS driver violations from roadside inspections, and how to fix them:
1. Stopping Form & Manner Violations
Over 70% of all HOS violations are related to form and manner issues. The prevalence of these violations is likely due to the fact they are easy to spot by an inspector. So what is form and manner? Basically, it is the set of clerical tasks needed to complete a driver’s log. Along with recording duty status, drivers also have to make sure they have the following information recorded on their logs:
- Name of carrier
- Main office address
- Total miles driving today
- Vehicle number
- Driver’s signature/certification
- Name of co-driver
- Shipping document number(s)
That’s a lot of information to keep on top of. Even when complete, sloppy paperwork, poor handwriting and small mistakes can also lead to violations and longer inspections.
The Fix – Kiss messy paperwork goodbye. An electronic logbook app automatically fills out any fields that stay the same each day, and it eliminates the tiny mistakes. With each day’s log drivers will be reminded what missing fields still need to be completed. Any remarks the added by the driver are legible and mistakes are easily fixed leaving logs free of messy scribbles.
2. Stopping Not Current Violations
Unlike the multiple things that can lead to form and manner violations, this one is a lot simpler. The duty status graph on a log must be current to the last change of duty status. If not, drivers run afoul of the 'not current' violation. Forgetting to update duty status is the second most frequent HOS violation found in a roadside inspection. This is sometimes due to a lack of vigilance on the driver’s part, as there are many drivers that still like to do their logs at the end of the day or when dispatch starts asking for them.
The Fix – With the touch of a screen, all a driver has to do is set themselves to on duty when they start their shift and off duty when they finish. Electronic logbooks can detect when a vehicle is in motion and automatically change duty status so it’s not really possible to fall behind.
3. Stopping Driving Beyond Time Violations
Driving beyond the14-hour duty period is the most common violation when it comes to drivers going beyond their allotted time. Drivers are only allowed to drive a maximum of 11 hours a day and these hours must be within a 14-hour period from when they first come on duty. Often drivers don’t realize they have gone beyond the 14-hour period, as they haven’t used all the allotted driving time in a day. It’s also worth mentioning here that the next most frequent driving beyond time violation is driving more than 11 hours within the 14-hour window. Both show that keeping time can be difficult when out on the road.
The Fix – Keeping track of remaining time and not going beyond the daily and weekly time limits is frustrating task for most drivers. An electronic logbook can tell a driver to how much time they have left and alert them when they are running low on remaining time. These apps can automatically calculate remaining drive time in a 14-hour shift as well as alert drivers to when they should take a break. They can also let drivers know how long they have left for a shift reset and let them know when they have worked the maximum weekly 70 hours as well tracking the time in their 34-hour reset.
4. False Records Violations
Falsifying logs is a violation that can land offenders into some really hot water. Over 75% of the time, a false report of a driver’s record of duty status will result in an out-of-service violation. Unfortunately, drivers who think they can do a week’s worth of logs in a single sitting are setting themselves up for trouble. Fudging the numbers doesn’t work for drivers who don’t record their duty status properly. They are unable to say for certain if they actually drove within the correct time limits. If an inspector suspects a driver of falsifying logs, the driver can expect a very thorough inspection. DOT inspectors already know what kind of distances can be covered within a reasonable time. Drivers who think they can cheat their logs better also be prepared back up their claims with gas receipts.
The Fix – Along with automatically recording duty status, electronic logs will add the location to the log at each change of duty status. Taking the grind out of logs encourages drivers to complete them properly. Logs can be completed quickly when most of the work is done automatically. This eliminates the need to rely on memory to complete missing information on logs.
5. No Record of Duty Status and Failing to Retain Previous 7 Days’ Logs
Lastly, failing to provide a record of duty status along with not being able to present logs for the last seven days completed are on the list of most common driver violations. Inspectors are even tougher on theses two violations than false log violations, with 86% resulting in out of service violations. Not all drivers know if they need to record their duty status. This is especially true of companies that own smaller vehicles. Also, constantly having the last seven days of logs readily available requires drivers to remember to carry a lot of extra paperwork. It’s easy to misplace just a single day’s record of duty status.
The Fix – The only fix for no record of duty status violations is education. Giving drivers an easy-to-use tool, like an electronic logbook, encourages them to be more diligent with their logs. Also, electronic logbooks remove the fear of lost paperwork by automatically storing the previous seven days of logs. These can be presented during a roadside inspection using an inspection mode that makes them look as familiar to an inspector as paper.
What Steps Should I Take Now?
This list of violations ranges from minor mistakes, all the way to an increased chance of out-of-service violations. Not only do these violations affect the HOS safety score, fines can often be costly especially for repeat offenders. Factor in the time lost from roadside inspections and it’s easy to see why taking care of HOS compliance pays for itself.
Providing training on HOS regulations to drivers is a great start. This 3-part primer gives an overview on how HOS regulations work. It covers who must comply with HOS regulations, how HOS are recorded and what core rules a driver must follow.
The free BigRoad electronic logbook app is perfect for drivers. It produces clean, compliant logs that are ready for roadside inspection. With the addition of fleet management tools, fleet managers can also alert drivers when their logs pose a roadside inspection risk. BigRoad offers a complete, inexpensive and effective solution to HOS compliance.
Before rolling out a company wide HOS compliance solution like BigRoad, it is important to understand the ins and outs of the system. Knowing how a system works will make the transition to an electronic logging system a lot simpler.