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Repeat offenders without an ELD could face a lot of negative consequences

 (Photo: Shutterstock)
(Photo: Shutterstock)

The CVSA roadcheck is over, bringing in a bit of relief to drivers from constantly looking out for officials on the highway sidelines and to ELD providers who had worked tirelessly for three days to make sure their client base does not face complications during inspections. Though the results on the number of violations and its spread across the country have still not been made public by the CVSA, a general perception of the inspection can be gauged by interacting with drivers who were stopped for checking.

“We see these surveys and our own installed base, where about 70% of them are still running AOBRDs versus a technical ELD, and this is causing quite a bit of confusion. Law enforcement seems not to understand the difference between the two, and a lot of times the drivers don’t understand the difference either,” said Rustin Keller, president and CEO of  J. J. Keller & Associates, a market leader in the ELD space.

Many drivers running an AOBRD device on their truck believe they are ELD compliant, which could be a problem as they would be unable to submit data for inspection since technically, AOBRD devices are not required to transmit data. AOBRD devices are a predecessor to the current ELDs with onboard recorders and logging devices loosely termed as AOBRDs. “Typically it was the larger fleets that installed them, because they saw a greater ROI with telematics in general,” said Keller.

Initially, during the fall of last year and before the compliance date, the fleets were required to switch from an AOBRD to an ELD, but later the FMCSA rescinded on the rule to let drivers run AOBRDs as long as they were upgradable to ELD requirements without swapping out the hardware. This revision led to a noticeable decrease in migration of AOBRD users to ELDs. The deadline for an actual ELD migration from an AOBRD is December 2019, which still is a long way ahead.

Truckers running without an ELD could face a lot of consequences. “The independent selection score (ISS) which is used to identify whether a driver needs to be inspected or not, goes up significantly if they repeatedly get hit for not getting an ELD on the truck,” said Mark Schedler, senior editor of transport management at J. J. Keller & Associates. The carriers would bear the brunt if their drivers run without ELD and disregard HOS rules as their ISS score go up precipitously on both accounts.

“The way the regulations read now is that they are going to be cited if they don’t have a compliant ELD or an AOBRD. They would have to have one installed before their next dispatch,” said Schedler. “The dispatch number gets written on the citation so that the next officer who sees the truck would know whether the dispatch has changed.”

The enforcement officers would also have access to the driver’s inspection history, and if they see that the driver had been tagged a week or so before for not having an ELD, they would be keeping a lookout for the driver. They can run his credentials to see if he was running compliant and if the dispatch has changed.

The insurance agencies would also have visibility to just about everything in the CSA, except for the percentile scores. “They can see all your violations and accidents and can factor rates if you are not compliant and not putting ELD in the truck,” said Schedler. “Customers can see the same information in the CSA system. They just can’t see the percentile scores, but they can see crash incidents, auto-results, violation details and they can use that to determine whether they’ve got a safe carrier.”

Sometimes, the consequences could be far more severe. Bad actors in the ecosystem who do not heed the safety management regulations in place and constantly overwork their drivers could put themselves in the line of litigation, if in the case of a fatigued driver injuring somebody on the road.

This apart, J. J. Keller witnessed a lot of driver violations being reported by its client base, most of which were issues that could be resolved by the company. It included missing inspections on reports, expired annual inspection, failure to wear eyeglasses, incorrect placarding, AOBRD untrained drivers, using a handheld device, failing to maintain an ELD user manual, amongst various other trivial issues.

That being said, Keller was certain that about 97% of all fleets on the road are at least quasi-compliant, with 70% of them running AOBRDs in the place of an ELD. There also is a consolidation of ELD market players right now, as a few ELD providers are closing shop unable to provide services to their client base – which Keller believed would continue into the future till the market is left with only a few providers who can address ELD and its regulations.

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