3 ways ELDs are NOT helping with roadside inspections

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Despite electronic logging devices’ ability to streamline operations and reduce the administrative burden associated with paper logs, the devices are not always the most helpful tools when it comes to roadside inspections.

Both drivers and inspectors have felt the burden of adapting to new technologies since the ELD mandate took effect in December 2017.

Drivers must learn how their devices work and learn to operate without the trademark flexibility paper logs allowed. Inspectors must be able to differentiate between devices operating in different modes and identify drivers working under various extensions and exemptions.

“When the ELD mandate first went into effect, we were having quite a few issues with inaccurate locations and connectivity. A lot of these devices rely on cellular signal, and Missouri is a rural state,” Missouri State Highway Patrol Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Assistant Director Kevin Kelley said. “As time has gone on, and the devices have improved, we’re not seeing that as much as we were. With anything new, you’re going to have some hiccups and speed bumps.”

Even as ELDs become more integrated into the industry, unfamiliarity can complicate the roadside inspection process and leave everyone involved feeling frustrated.

Here are just a few of the hurdles drivers and inspectors must continue to clear:

Device confusion

One of the most prevalent issues inspectors face during the inspection process is figuring out what type of device the driver is using and how it operates.

“Our number one issue is trying to tell the difference between AOBRDs and ELDs,” Kelley said. “The devices are so similar, and some certified ELDs run AOBRD software.”

AOBRD, or automatic onboard recording device, regulations are not as strict as ELD regulations. In order to be considered AOBRD-compliant, fleets must have deployed the devices before the ELD mandate took effect. Those carriers are considered “grandfathered in” and have been able to continue using AOBRDs. They are allowed to continue using these devices until December 16, 2019.

It is crucial for both drivers and inspectors to know if they are using an AOBRD or an ELD in order for the inspection to be carried out correctly.

When asked how carriers could help ease the confusion at inspection time, Kelley encouraged them to make sure drivers knows what type of device they are using and can convey that to the inspector.

Longer wait times

The introduction of ELDs has led to longer inspection times as everyone involved learns to adjust to changing technology.

In addition to the time it takes to determine what type of device is being used, drivers and inspectors alike often experience delays while going through the process of transferring eRODS. This can be caused by technological malfunctions, error messages or simply the stress of using something new.

The slowdown can be exacerbated by drivers who have not been properly trained on how the system works or inspectors who do not know the system well enough to use it properly.

“ELDs have lengthened the time of an inspection right now because of the learning curve,” Kelley said. “We’ll get better and quicker, and hopefully the inspection times will get back to what they were with paper logs. One time-saving benefit to ELDs is that they are easier for our personnel to read.”

Kelley said the state of Missouri is helping to combat this issue and others with additional training and knowledge refreshers.

Less flexibility

ELDs have eliminated much of the flexibility drivers enjoyed while using paper logs when it comes to hours of service. The devices record in seconds, as opposed to 15-minute increments, which could lead to more violations for inconsequential shortages and overages.

“We have had drivers short of reaching their 10-hour break by minutes or even seconds because these devices are very accurate,” Kelley said. “If it’s short by a few minutes, we tell our personnel not to penalize the driver for that.”

Kelley recognizes drivers are not always to blame for these small misses, thanks to other hot button issues like parking.

“We have heard a lot about drivers having a hard time finding places to park and rest because there is no flexibility or ‘cheat time’ like there was with paper logs,” he said. “We are very cognizant that these guys are having a hard time.”

While Missouri inspectors may be instructed to show drivers mercy in situations like these, the outcome can vary from state-to-state and inspector-to-inspector.

These scenarios fall under the FMCSA’s nominal violation guidelines, which grant inspectors the ability to decide how to cite minor infractions using their own discretion.

EROAD Director of Regulatory Compliance for North America Soona Lee said the popular ELD provider encourages its clients to make sure they avoid these small infractions by resting one minute longer than required.

Ultimately, both Lee and Kelley agree that working toward more seamless integration of ELDs is a team effort than involves not just drivers and inspectors, but vendors and regulators as well.

“I’m always glad to be able to work with the industry and vendors,” Kelley said. “Those relationships need to stay in place in order to make this mandate work for everybody.”

Lee said EROAD has been working closely with the FMCSA as issues arise and accommodations have been made as needed.

“The industry at large is coming up to speed, and hopefully these issues can be resolved,” Lee said.

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Ashley Coker, Staff Writer

Ashley is interested in the opportunities and issues that arise at the intersection of law and technology. She is the primary contributor to the news site content. She studied journalism at Middle Tennessee State University and worked as an editor and reporter at two daily newspapers before joining FreightWaves. Ashley spends her free time at the dog park with her beagle, Ruth, or scouring the internet for last minute flight deals.

One Comment

  1. When has a road side inspection or one at the scales ever been speedy even with paper logs.its always took me 45 minutes.

  2. Yes the stuff they come up with is all bull crap it always takes 45 minutes to do inspections what do they mean when drivers hit our get close to there 10 hour limit it is 11 hours we could drive besides the point ELD suck FMCSA sucks and the trucking industry is going to s*** and no drivers will do anything about it so sad thanks to FMCSA the trucking industry is getting worse parking is getting worse people are driving like mad ass people everybody’s in a hurry to race the clock I see it day in Day Out but FMCSA don’t but they make the rules so what can we do I guess when there is more fatalities do to e-logs they will get the hint there has been more truck accidents since ELD rolled out then the past 5 years my sister works for the State of California she did the percentage but they did not put that they made it seem like it is doing better and it’s not but that’s all what the news puts out there for the public to treat us like s***

  3. ELD’S have not lowered accidents. What there doing is causing more if anything. Because now drivers are racing the clock and having to park in unsafe places. Like on and off ramps of the interstate and mall parking lots. Fmcsa should have stayed with paper logs until finding something better. Or at least get there ass out from behind a desk and get in a truck and drive. Maybe then they could see the problems they caused with ELD’s. Sad that government departments like fmcsa can develop shit like this and shuve it down the trucking industries throught. The intire trucking industry including drivers need to start pushing back. If not for truckers and the hard work and time away from there families the store shelves would be empty. I wonder how all the fmcsa families would feel then. Maybe one day ALL drivers will stick together and for once hold a real strike for our safety and better way of life. Shut down all commerce for two weeks then maybe the government and the people would take notice. Just my thoughts!! No one even inspectors like ELDs

  4. The last 2 inspections that I’ve gone through (level 2 in NY and a level 1 in KY), they didn’t even want to see my logs. They inspected the truck and trailer, checked my documents, and I handed them the tablet and they just said "I don’t need to see that".