With enforcement of the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate starting on December 18, 2017, there has been confusion at between drivers and inspectors as to whether a device is an ELD or a grandfathered automatic onboard recording device (AOBRDs).
There have also been observations regarding complaints with some vendor support, and more drivers running out of hours due to delays. Read the blog to learn about enforcement so far, and some tips to avoid violations:
4 Principal Areas of Concern
Drivers and/or DOT officers not sure if they are dealing with an AOBRD or ELD vehicle, which is due to a lack of overall training and the extremely large variety of devices in the field.
ELD-related citations are being issued in several states against drivers and/or motor carriers when they are in fact using an AOBRD that complies with Section 395.15.
Motor carriers are choosing some ELD vendors that provide an insufficient level of training and post-sale customer support. These motor carriers are having a negative ELD/AOBRD experience, and drivers are becoming increasingly frustrated with technology not working as designed, resulting in productivity loss.
Drivers are running out of hours due to delays in transit, wait time at customer locations, traffic and major accidents, and/or are not being credited with a full break because they are starting on-duty prior to taking the mandatory time off.
High Level Points to be Aware Of
1. Clients and Drivers Should Know the Requirements of the Device in the Truck
Drivers must know with a high degree of certainty the type of device they are using (AOBRD or ELD). They must also understand the specific requirements for each device. If an ELD vendor and/or motor carrier is not providing adequate instruction on the device in the vehicle and the required truck information packet is not given to drivers, this can and will result in issues with DOT enforcement.
Included below is the DashLink ELD User Manual, the ELD Driver’s Card for ELD vehicles, and the AOBRD Driver’s Card for AOBRD vehicles.
2. Incorrect Citations and Data Transfer Failures
There are reports of drivers with AOBRDs being cited and/or fined for ELD violations. The violations have been primarily for “failure to transfer data,” when, in fact, AOBRDs are not required to transfer data.
An AOBRD must only must display or print the required hours-of-service information. If a driver was incorrectly cited and/or fined, the citation should be contested via the DataQs process, even though there is no Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) point impact until April 1, 2018. A pattern of ELD-related violations by a motor carrier will not be looked upon favorably by the courts and/or by insurance companies, regardless of CSA point values. Therefore, such citations should be challenged.
There are also several reports of data transfer failures with ELDs. The root causes of the data transfer problems were likely ELD-related versus FMCSA system-related. DOT enforcement officials have the discretion to cite and issue fines for the failure of an ELD to transfer data according to the rulemaking.
Data transfer issues and any other ELD malfunctions must be repaired within 8 days. A motor carrier can file for an extension with the FMCSA within five days of the malfunction. If the ELD vendor is unable to provide a compliant device, other actions to consider are reporting the vendor to the FMCSA and/or switching to another ELD vendor.
Please refer to the inspection/malfunction card linked here to understand how BigRoad manages this process.
For BigRoad/Fleet Complete ELD-equipped (eg non-exempt) vehicles, at a roadside inspection, the driver is prompted to select from one of three options:
1. "Send to FMCSA" - this is the eRODS 4.9/4.10-compliant transfer mechanism, and what our inspection card states.
2. "Display On-Screen" - this is a 4.8-compliant mode of displaying logs on-screen for an inspector.
3. There is also a third option, "Send/Print Logs", presented for convenience as inspectors transition to the new ELD inspection modes, that will send the PDF log copy you refer to by printer, fax, or email. That is not the eRODS-compliant method, and should not be used for an ELD inspection. It is still present to allow a fallback to a more "familiar" way of presenting logs at roadside, but is not ELD-compliant. It's an extra option BigRoad allows at the DOT inspector's discretion, particularly during this period of transition.
When a driver is asked to perform an inspection using eRODS, they select option 1, "Send to FMCSA" in the application. They are then asked if they should send the logs via Web Services or via email. The inspector should instruct them which method to use, and provide them a comment to input. Inputting the comment and clicking "Send" will send a properly-formatted submission per Subpart B Appendix A S4.9.x and S4.10.x to eRODS.
However, it should be noted that the FMCSA eRODS system is presently not capable of accepting email eRODS submissions. The email submission system is still in testing. Web Services is up and running.
In the interim, BigRoad has configured the system to allow inspectors to REQUEST the email submission. If the submission fails due to email eRODS services not being available (as it will 100% of the time right now), the system will allow the driver or DOT Inspector to fall back to either display inspection under 4.8 or send via Web Services under 4.9/4.10.
3. Vendor Support May be Insufficient
Along with having a compliant device, customer support is one of the most important aspects of the ELD vendor decision. Motor carriers are now experiencing the reality of their vendor’s customer support. There are almost 200 ELD vendors and 300 models on the FMCSA ELD registry to choose from. Unfortunately, many do not have a strong track record in the AOBRD/ELD business. Blogs are filling up with unhappy stories of broken vendor promises and long waits for customer service responses. Fortunately, BigRoad/Fleet Complete has a robust solution and an excellent customer support infrastructure.
BigRoad Customer Cupport can be reached at 1.888.305.8777 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Avoid and Address Potential Hours Issues
The ELD rulemaking has not made any changes to the hours-of-service regulations! Only the RODS output file is different, and well as the data transfer mechanisms.
Despite this fact, there has been an increase in the reporting of drivers running out of hours before reaching their destination or a safe place to park. The burden is on dispatchers to ensure drivers have the required available hours needed to complete a trip. Motor carriers have to educate their customers on the new HOS world with ELD. Dispatching procedures have to be updated to reflect the way the business operates so that the driver can perform their duties, yet remain compliant. Drivers cannot manage the ELD mandate along. All stakeholders in the movement of passengers and freight have a significant role to play.
Motor carriers have to educate their drivers in those situations where a driver is not able to stay on a customer’s property after delivering a load, yet has run out of productive hours to driver to a safe parking spot elsewhere. Personal conveyance or “off-duty driving” cannot currently be used as the back-up plan, unless a driver meets the requirements in Canada and the U.S. as they are different.
If a driver runs out of hours and must leave a customer or other location after failing to gain approval to park there, the electronic log must reflect the actual “on-duty driving” that occurred unless a driver is relieved of responsibility per jurisdictional requirements.
Drivers should be instructed to enter detailed annotations with the reason for any exceptions used that resulted in an hours-of-service violations. A driver will still technically be in violation; however, the annotations may be interpreted by a DOT inspector as extenuating circumstances and result in a citation and/or fine not being issued.
Trends of hours-of-service violations are always a concern for FMCSA, but an occasional instance of drivers being over hours that are annotated in detail will help a driver and their motor carrier avoid citations and fines.
The ELD mandate will soon go to the next phase where full enforcement is launched effective April 1, 2018. At this important milestone date, citations and fines will continue to be issued. However, drivers may also be placed out of service at roadside, and Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) points will be assessed for ELD-related violations on a motor carrier’s safety profile.
Achieve ELD Compliance With BigRoad
Don't want to get caught running without a ELD solution? BigRoad has everything you need to comply with the ELD mandate. DashLink ELD is the #1 ELD solution available! Don't take our word for it, request a demo and see the solution in action!