What’s the real-world impact of the ELD mandate which took effect in December 2017? And, how can fleets manage operations and compliance going forward with the new technology? Those were the burning questions addressed in a webinar with EROAD on October 11, 2018.
EROAD and industry experts, Joe DeLorenzo, FMCSA Director of the Office of Enforcement and Compliance, and Kerri Wirachowsky, CVSA’s Director of Roadside Inspection Program shared their unique point of views on what has taken place in the last year and how we can move forward today.
Joe started off saying “Things are definitely going in the right direction. ELD compliance is well above 99%. There has been a significant drop in Hours of Service violations." Now he says, “It’s a matter of getting everyone comfortable with the new technology, how it functions, and how to go forward in their operations.”
The data transition rates provide strong proof of the smooth implementation. Joe says the percentage of successful data transfers to eRODS via web services and email has steadily increased since December. This is important to enforcement, but also to carriers. They can now provide more data to enforcement officers shortening inspection times and increasing the accuracy of HOS evaluations.
Surpassing his expectations especially in the recent months, Joe attributes much of the success to the vendors and carriers. He believes they’ve been working hard to ensure data transfers are successful. Moreover, some of their inspection criteria was “loosened up” by FMCSA which may have in part contributed to the success.
Joe encourages everyone to visit the FMCSA website which was just updated to be more user-friendly. “Frequently Asked Questions” is now located under “Driver & Motor Carrier” section. Also, the site provides quick access to Electronic Records of Duty Status (eRODS) where ELD files are translated into HOS data. From there, you can upload your files and see exactly what law enforcement will see. Carriers can use eRODS to assess how well their ELDs are monitoring, too.
Kerri Wirachowsky then gave an insightful overview of the roadside impact from the ELD mandate.
She said, “These are challenging times for carriers and inspectors.” In speaking to inspectors only a few months ago, it became evident to her that many drivers are still confused with which records they are supposed to produce.
Many drivers assume they have an ELD, yet it may actually be an AOBRD system given how similar they may seem. Kerri presented a helpful HOS flow chart that illustrates how inspectors must proceed with the implementation. Drivers will find it useful, too. View or download it from the CVSA Inspection Bulletins page
Kerri greatly emphasized that the more drivers understand, the faster their inspections tend to move along. It’s imperative drivers know which device their trucks are using (ELD or AOBRD). So, be sure you supply them with the appropriate instruction card/manual and confirm they know how to access and use it, if it is an electronic guide.
Drivers must have blank log sheets to complete logs, if ever the device malfunctions and always be ready to show the inspector their record of duty status. If the device is an ELD, know how to transfer the files (where to input the inspector’s code, etc.). If operating under an exemption, the driver should be prepared to explain which exemption it is and why it’s necessary.
Soona Lee, EROAD’s Director of Regulatory Compliance also spoke to how ELD providers are approaching the changes and supporting customers. She had some great tips to offer:
- Set up the ELD system with correct details
- Give your drivers the right level of permissions
- Establish processes to manage unidentified trips
- Establish processes to manage and review driver logs
- Work with your ELD provider to manage malfunctions and data diagnostics
As far as which electronically transferred data from ELDs will be retained by FMCSA, the answer is simple: Same as the paper system. Unless there’s a violation and/or an open investigation, the data from an electronic roadside inspection will be purged from the FMCSA system.
Personal conveyance has been a hot topic and the answers remain the same. Drivers just need to provide a valid reason to enforcement officers if permitted to operate the truck for personal use at that time. Records including hotel and meal receipts always help in supporting your case.
Another suggestion that was brought up during the Q&A session is that drivers should never risk shortening their break time. It’s best to pad it with an extra minute in case the ELD time varies slightly from any other timepiece.
Lastly, what should a driver do if their ELD goes offline? First, they must be ready to explain to an officer when this happened. Usually officers accept PDFs of past logs by email from their carrier’s back office. Kerri said if it’s three hours of downtime, that’s believable, but not three days.
While paper users have fully transitioned over to ELDs, the next phase is AOBRD to ELD. “It’s still an adjustment time in the transition of AORBDs to ELDs,” according to Joe, “so it’s a bit early to assess how the full transition will play out.”
Make sure you are thinking about your transition early so that if there are speed bumps along the way you won’t be up against a hard enforcement deadline and still having to train staff and drivers on the new process.