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Best practices for an effective ELD rollout

 Training drivers on ELD best practices can be an effective way to avoid unnecessary enforcement action.
Training drivers on ELD best practices can be an effective way to avoid unnecessary enforcement action.

Commentary

For many fleets, the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate presents a new variable in the regulatory landscape that must be carefully navigated. Following the best practices below will help fleet managers identify the most common mistakes and pitfalls that may result in a fine, expensive roadside delays or even worse, a business shutdown.

 Monitoring for HOS Violations

The most likely violation that could occur under the ELD mandate is also the most obvious: a driver deciding not to log in to the device before starting his route. If drivers know they might receive an hours of service (HOS) violation if logged in, some might avoid logging in altogether.

In a recent webinar hosted by Spireon, transportation industry consultant John Seidl said these types of violations are easy to catch as long as the fleet manager is paying attention. Seidl used the example of a driver whose log showed him ending the day in Lima, OH, but starting the next day in Reading, PA, which is 518 miles away.

“What I suggest is you teach drivers how this works and how you catch them to prevent them from trying it,” Seidl said.

Best Practices for the Back Office

To ensure compliance, Fleet managers should regularly audit driver logs to check for ways drivers might try to squeeze in more driving time. One of these concerns is fueling and loading/unloading. Drivers must count these activities as “on-duty, not-driving.” However, some drivers may try to count that time as “off-duty.” Some ELD solutions contain a loophole that allows fueling and loading/unloading to be logged this way, even though it violates HOS laws. Drivers need to understand the law and how it can protect them, and fleet managers need to watch for these violations to maintain compliance. In today’s technology-driven economy, drivers and trucks leave an electronic trail of breadcrumbs wherever they go which provides a rich dataset for authorities to audit logs against. Making sure logs match reality will ultimately be the best defense for fleet managers and drivers.

Another back-office task that is crucial to avoiding violations is the submission of supporting documents within 13 days of an audit request. These documents provide additional evidence to back up the ELD’s record of the driver’s use of time by identifying the driver, date, location and time. Examples of these documents include a toll receipt or a shipper bill of lading. Failing to maintain these documents could bring unwanted scrutiny.

Attempting to Outsmart the ELD

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) guidelines, the ELD can delay recording driving time until the vehicle hits a speed greater than five miles per hour. Because of this, many ELDs are automatically programmed to this setting. Seidl recommends changing the setting to zero miles per hour to prevent abuse.

“I just heard a story from a trucking company about a month ago,” Seidl said. “They had a driver that drove three miles per hour to get from one location to another on a road, which is completely unsafe, so he could keep his log in the “off-duty” status.”

Respecting Drivers’ Breaks

In an effort to address concerns of driver harassment and privacy, the FMCSA dictates that if drivers are expected to respond to urgent messages coming through the ELD during drivers’ breaks, that interruption counts as “on-duty” time.

“If you send repeated messages through any kind of communication—‘repeated messages’ is key—you cannot consider that time to be off-duty,” Seidl said. “Train drivers and dispatchers not to demand communication back and forth during mandatory 30-minute breaks and/or 10-hour breaks.” 

Create a Culture of Safety

Ultimately, fostering a culture of safety and respect is your best bet for a successful ELD rollout. When drivers understand that the regulation was put in place to ensure their own compliance, reputation and livelihood, they’ll be able to focus more on what they do best, and what earns them money: driving! While hiccups and frustration are to be expected at first, making our industry and highways safer is ultimately worth the learning curve.

 Dean Croke is vice president of data products at Spireon. Spireon is a connected vehicle intelligence company, providing businesses and consumers with insights to track, manage and protect their most valuable mobile assets. You can learn more about Spireon’s products at www.spireon.com.

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Dean Croke, Chief Analytics Officer, FreightWaves

Prior to FreightWaves, Dean lead Data Science teams at Omnitracs Analytics, FleetRisk Advisors and Spireon in addition to heading up Lancer’s long-haul truck insurance business. He has a strong trucking background in trucking operations, vehicle telematics, data science, business intelligence, data analytics, 24/7 workplace scheduling and human physiology. After pioneering the deployment of the trucking industry’s first predictive models in the mid-2000’s as one of the founders of FleetRisk Advisors, he has developed a specialty in creating operational insights in freight markets using vast data sets and visualization tools to operationalize data. Dean has a Bachelor of Business in Transport and Logistics. Dean’s trucking experience also extends to his days as an over-the-road driver in his native country Australia where in the process of covering over two million miles, he owned and operated some of the largest “road trains” in the world. He was also General Manager of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) where he played a key role in the development of the TruckSafe and Fatigue Management Program – both alternative compliance programs which have been cited in the FMCSA’s recent “Beyond Compliance” initiative.

One Comment

  1. Their is no safety in elds now everyone is racing the 14 hr clock trucks doing well over speed limit.ive already seen trucks doing 15 over limit at 75 or 80 mph,absolutely no safety in elds

  2. Elds are not safe. This is not about safety. Its about corprate takeover of the industry. Mega fleets run 25% of the trucks out here. We owner operators and small companies make up 75% of the rest. We are not machines. Went to Chicago from Iowa. Unloaded drove through the city some 45 miles in heavy trafic got to shipper. I spent 5 hrs in the dock ON DUTY NOT DRIVING. Guess what I slept for that five hrs. Left shipper with 2 hrs of my 14 left. Parked truck for 10 hr break. Cant sleep JUST SLEPT…… Now after being up for my break I must now drive three hrs into my shift Im tired but have to run now. Tell me how this is safe??? Its bs Ive been driving for 17 years and you all buracrats think you know what works for us out here while sitting at your desk. Oh yea the ATA DOES NOT represent the independants or small fleets that make up 75% of the trucks out here. They represent the mega fleets who’s safey ratings were so bad they had to self insure. Do the right thing President Trump……Executive order this mandate out. Save lives and save the small businesses that keep America moving.

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