The electronic logging device (ELD) mandate has been a topic of debate in the trucking industry since the final rule was published two years ago.
Some had hoped the requirement would be tossed out in court or eliminated through the help of legislation. Neither has come to pass. As a result, drivers who are required to complete a record of duty status (i.e., driver log) must begin using an approved ELD no later than Dec. 18, 2017, unless using one of the exceptions.
In this, the “eleventh hour,” many companies still have last-minute questions on ELD implementation. Following are some areas of consideration.
Finding an Acceptable Device
Not all e-log devices are created equal, or so the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) believes. Motor carriers may only use those ELDs that meet the specifications prescribed in the safety regulations. The agency has a list of approved ELDs on its website.
Some older devices will be grandfathered. If you install a compliant, automatic on-board recording device (AOBRD) by Dec. 17, 2017, you may continue to use it until Dec. 16, 2019. However, you must update the AOBRD to meet the new ELD specifications or replace it by that same date.
Drivers using an ELD must also have at least eight backup paper logs in case the ELD malfunctions, as well as instructions for using the device.
Handling Short-Haul Drivers
One of the exceptions to the ELD rule is based on how often the driver is required to use a standard paper log.
If a driver is required to log eight days or less within any 30-consecutive-day period, he or she is not required to use an ELD. These drivers may continue to use paper logs when necessary in place of ELDs.
This exception is most often associated with intermittent or occasional drivers, and those claiming one of the short-haul (100/150 air-mile) exceptions in Section 395.1(e). Once a driver needs to log on a ninth day in that 30-day period, he or she must begin using an ELD to record his or her hours of service.
Companies with drivers who switch back and forth from completing logs to claiming a short-haul exception must closely monitor the number of days a log is required.
Updating Policies and Procedures
A company’s hours-of-service policies and procedures should be updated to address e-logs, including the following topics:
- Logging in and out and properly recording duty status.
- Editing and certifying logs.
- Deliberately falsifying a record or damaging a device.
- Roadside inspection procedures.
Drivers and others at the carrier need to know that the company is serious about prohibiting any attempt at log falsification. Your policies must have consequences built into them to help deter such activity.
Training Your Staff
ELD training should be developed for anyone at the company involved with hours-of-service compliance. Your ELD policies and procedures should be provided during these sessions.
Drivers should leave training with a clear understanding of how the ELD works and be comfortable with entering data into the system. Training should also cover what will be expected of drivers during roadside inspections.
Support personnel who will audit e-logs need to be trained on using the system, the log editing process, and the like. If employees will be data-mining, for example, to track locations or improve efficiency, they too need to be given the training necessary to perform these new tasks.
And, finally, training may cross into your maintenance department. Don’t forget to train those employees who will install and repair ELDs.
During the Adjustment Period
Between Dec. 18, 2017, and April 1, 2018, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CSVA) is not applying its ELD out-of-service criteria. But, during this phased-in approach, ELD violations will be noted on roadside inspection reports and used for scoring under FMCSA’s CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) enforcement program. Carriers are still subject to potential fines and penalties. Note: drivers may be placed out of service for other logging violations during this transition period.
About the Author
Kathy Close is a transportation editor at J. J. Keller & Associates, Inc. Her areas of expertise include transportation security, DOT drug and alcohol testing, and driver qualification. She can be reached at [email protected].