Handling unassigned drive time can be an ELD headache

Feb. 20, 2018
Teletrac Navman offers tips, beefs up staffing levels at its support center.

Teletrac Navman has received so many calls to its support center since the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate kicked in Dec. 18, it has nearly tripled staffing levels.

Many of these calls have surrounded unassigned driving time, which Sid Nair, senior director of transport and compliance, called “one of the biggest challenges” that have arisen from the mandate.

The concept “has been a really hard thing for some fleets to understand," he told Fleet Owner. It is a portion of the regulation that feels like it can “make life miserable” without proper training and education.

The ELD mandate requires the device to log all vehicle movements. Unassigned time can happen when a driver forgets to login to an ELD. It also commonly occurs when support staff moves the vehicle a short distance for maintenance, fueling, or washing.

Previously, this time could be handled via individual paper logs, but now every mile must be logged electronically by a single ELD per truck.

With the new mandate, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requires anyone who moves equipment to have a login for the ELD. After unassigned drive time is flagged, fleets need to try to figure out who was the likely driver.

In cases when it cannot be determined, carriers must note that in the ELD device to limit any potential problems in the event there is a roadside inspection.

Nair said in the immediate aftermath of the mandate, panicked calls from fleets and drivers sought basic information on how to use the ELD, or to find out when they would be receiving the devices because they waited until the last days to order the devices.

To Nair, that points to a lack of awareness, preparation, and training among some fleets.

By early February, the volume of calls had begun to subside, but Teletrac Navman is preparing for “another wave of panic” in late March and into April, once full enforcement becomes the norm. 

Despite the confusion that will still exist on the nation’s highways, Nair does not recommend pushing the April 1 full enforcement date.

He does, however, hope FMCSA and law enforcement officials will show “some empathy toward drivers and carriers beyond April.”

Besides unassigned driving time, Nair said there remain some challenges with understanding the e-mail transfer protocol of ELD data.

There is also some confusion with the differences between automatic on-board recording devices and ELDs. The older AORBDs, which can be used until December 2019, cannot electronically transfer data the same way as the more modern ELDs.

Often times, inspectors are not thinking about the differences between the different devices, Nair said. 

About the Author

Neil Abt

Neil Abt, editorial director at Fleet Owner, is a veteran journalist with over 20 years of reporting experience, including 15 years spent covering the trucking industry. A graduate of American University in Washington, D.C., he began his career covering sports for The Washington Post newspaper, followed by a position in the newsroom of America Online (AOL) and then both reporting and leadership roles at Transport Topics. Abt is based out of Portland, Oregon.

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