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Roadcheck Week results: ELDs may have slightly boosted HOS compliance

Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves

The electronic logging device rule has been in full force since late last year, but the number of vehicles cited for hours-of-service violations took a relatively small drop in comparing data from the 2019 and 2020 International Roadcheck Weeks.

Roadcheck Week for North America took place later than normal this year due to the pandemic. It was held Sept. 9-11, being delayed from May 5-7. Last year, Roadcheck Week — which involves road checks in Canada, the U.S. and Mexico — was June 4-6.

Since the last road check, the AOBRD exemption has expired — the last step in requiring all trucks to have a full ELD on board. 

The data on Roadcheck Week does show improvement in compliance. Last year, the law enforcement authorities conducting Roadcheck Week took 1,179 drivers off the road for HOS violations. This year, with the stricter ELD rules in place which theoretically should cut down on HOS violations, 1,128 drivers were taken out of service, a drop of  51 trucks. That figure is for all of North America.

It’s striking that the percentage of total trucks taken off the road for HOS violations, as a percentage of all trucks removed during Roadcheck Week for driver violations, has not moved significantly even from 2017, when the ELD mandate was not fully in effect. That year, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, which conducts Roadcheck Week, said that 32.3% of all driver out-of-service (OOS) violations were for HOS violations. (It did not give a specific count.) 

In 2019, that number was 37.2% of all violations. In 2020, it was 34.7%, meaning that HOS violations actually rose as a percentage of OOS violations from Roadcheck Week compared to the final year the ELD mandate was not in effect at all during the CVSA’s program. 

(HOS rules are no different during that time; the only thing that has changed is the ELD rule allowing less leeway than paper logs to get around them.)

The leading causes of taking trucks out of service did not change notably between 2019 and 2020. The top cause for a vehicle being taken OOS in 2020 was related to brake systems: 3,163 in 2020 and 4,578 last year. That was 28% of all violations last year and 25.8% this year.

Comparisons on raw numbers to 2019 have a problem: There were a lot more inspections last year. For example, this year, the CVSA conducted a total of 50,151 inspections in four key categories. Last year, the CVSA reported it conducted more than 67,000 inspections in Canada and the U.S. alone. That leaves percentages as the best way to compare the past two years.

When the numbers are reviewed that way, it does not reveal any huge shifts. For example, after brake systems, tires were cited as the second-biggest category for OOS violations, with 19% of the total. The category of Tires & Wheels was second last year after brakes with 19.3%. 

Lights as a percentage of OOS equipment causes was 13.5% this year; it was 11.5% last year. Cargo securement was 12.9% last year; it was 12.2% this year.

This past year, OOS vehicle violations totaled 12,254. Last year, with the higher base of inspections, that totaled 16,347. 

As for driver OOS violations, that number totaled 3,247 this year. Last year, even against a much smaller base, that number was 3,173. One big difference between this year and last year is the category of “other,” which includes cell phone use. It was 709 this year, 21.8% of the total. Last year it was only 351, just 11.1% of the total. 

The increase in driver OOS violations this year could be related to the fact that as the CVSA said, it’s focus this year was on the “driver requirements category of a roadside inspection.” The CVSA said “a driver may be placed out of service for violations related to” a long list of potential issues, including sickness, “intoxicating beverages” and several other concerns. 

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John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.