Photo: Aaron Marsh/Fleet Owner
Joe DeLorenzo

Avoiding ELD headaches: What to do between now and April 1

March 26, 2018
FMCSA’s Joe DeLorenzo offers guidance on what truckers who need to comply with the ELD mandate should do before and after the April 1 out-of-service date.

LOUISVILLE. A week from now carriers that are not in compliance with the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate could officially be placed out of service during a roadside inspection.

During last week’s Mid-America Trucking Show (MATS), Joe DeLorenzo, director of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) Office of Compliance and Enforcement, discussed what carriers should be doing ahead of and after April 1, as well as some of the headaches he’s seen since December.

Just to recap: New users installing a device since the Dec. 18, 2017, implementation date must install an ELD. Those who were running automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) before that date can continue using their AOBRDs until December 2019. After that, everything must be converted over to an ELD.

After April 1, here’s a snapshot of what enforcement will look like:

  • Drivers who do not have an ELD when required will be placed out of service (OOS).
  • The driver will remain out of service for 10 hours in accordance with CVSA OOS criteria.
  • Drivers will be allowed to travel to their next scheduled stop, but cannot be dispatched again without an ELD.
  • If the driver is dispatched again, the driver and carrier will be subject to further enforcement action.

What to do before and after April 1

Select a device.

Those holding out until the very last second to convert to an ELD now have 330 different devices to choose from on the FMCSA’s self-registered site. DeLorenzo noted that the important distinction between an ELD and something else is that an ELD draws its information directly from the engine.

He urged carriers to think about what they truly need before selecting a device and to use due diligence during the selection process. Ultimately, in order to comply with the mandate, ELDs are for tracking drivers’ Hours of Service (HOS), and those rules remain unchanged.

Ensure your drivers know what device they have.

On board, drivers are required to have the following:

  • The device’s user manual, which can be paper or electronic;
  • An instruction sheet for date of transfer;
  • An ELD malfunction instruction sheet;
  • And any supporting documents that drivers must provide to enforcement officers upon request.

What happens when the ELD malfunctions?

The ELD malfunction rule says if the device goes down, drivers automatically have eight days to use paper logs. If they go over that timeframe, things get a bit more complicated, DeLorenzo noted.

“Technically if you go over eight days, you’re supposed to ask for an extension,” he explained. “For extensions, it really depends on what is happening and why. Our number one concern is: Is the ELD collecting the hours of service correctly? If the device isn’t doing that, clearly we’re going to sympathetic towards giving you an extension.”

“We’re kind of managing those types of issues and I think getting a little more experience with it now that we’ve had a few,” DeLorenzo added. “It will go case by case.”

Editing drive time.

The biggest thing about ELDs is that users cannot edit drive time as they could with paper logs, DeLorenzo pointed out. However, if drivers need to make edits of any kind, devices have an annotation feature – basically an electronic sticky note – for that purpose.

The most common attempt to edit drive time is running 15 minutes over due to traffic, or something like that, DeLorenzo noted.

“I am just going to encourage everybody to make sure you know how to use that feature and that your drivers know how to use that feature,” he stressed. “The most important thing about entering an annotation is that the driver has the final say. If the company decides to try and edit a driver’s log for some reason, it goes back to the driver. The driver has to say it’s OK and then they accept it and it goes on and maintains both records – the edited and the unedited versions.”

During an inspection.

When a driver is stopped, an enforcement officer will require that hours-of-service data from the ELD be transferred to the officer.

To ensure the transaction goes as smoothly as possible, DeLorenzo urged fleet managers to make sure their drivers know how to transfer the HOS data to the officer and that they have their instruction sheets on hand. If for some reason the transaction doesn’t work, most devices have a display screen and some have print-out options.

“Work with the officer to figure it out,” DeLorenzo noted. “The biggest concern I get here is that ‘I really don’t want to give the officer my tablet and have him walk away with it. Or it’s my personal phone or personal device.’”

“I tell the officers to have the driver come out with their device and show them the screen on the tablet,” DeLorenzo added. “The officer doesn’t want to mess with your device and drop it and be responsible for it. They also understand that with the BYOD scenarios it mixes personal with business and they don’t want to deal with your other information either.”

Unassigned miles.

Unassigned miles can be incurred when a truck moves without the driver in it. For instance, when a truck goes back to the yard or someone else drives it for maintenance. But when the driver goes to log in the next day and there are 20 unassigned miles, he or she will either accept them or not.

“This happens does happen to be one of the biggest headaches people are having right now,” DeLorenzo pointed out. “If somebody else is going to drive the truck, give them a maintenance log-in so those miles go somewhere. It’ll save you the time of your driver having to get those miles, then reject them, and go back to the back-office system. It avoids a whole lot of extra work.”

ELDs also have a built-in function for personal conveyance, which is found under special driving categories. If the driver is truly driving under personal conveyance, they can log in under personal conveyance, and that information gets separated from and doesn’t count toward HOS.

At the end of the day, the most common mistake is to remember to log out, DeLorenzo added.

About the Author

Cristina Commendatore

Cristina Commendatore was previously the Editor-in-chief of FleetOwner magazine. She reported on the transportation industry since 2015, covering topics such as business operational challenges, driver and technician shortages, truck safety, and new vehicle technologies. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut.

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