PHOENIX, Az. – With the US’s electronic logging device (ELD) mandate set to come into effect this December, being prepared, knowledgeable and compliance with hours-of-service are what carriers should be focusing on now.
This was the message from Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) director Joe DeLorenzo during his address at Omnitracs Outlook 2017, who gave an overview of what to expect in the next eight months leading up to the new ELD rule.
DeLorenzo said the number one issue he would like to relay to those in attendance to ensure the transition to ELDs goes smoothly was to plan accordingly and avoid the human tendency to procrastinate.
“If you’re a driver who fills out a log book, then you need an ELD,” DeLorenzo said, adding that one of the biggest mistakes people make is to take a new rule like the ELD mandate for granted until it sneaks up and bites you.
In addition to the mandatory use of an ELD, the major components of the rule include minimum performance and design standards of the device, measures to prevent harassment and requirements for HOS supporting documents.
DeLorenzo said ensuring driver are compliant with their HOS would be the key focus moving forward.
“Make sure your driver knows what they have and knows how to use it,” DeLorenzo said of the use of ELDs and what will make the process easier when a driver is inspected by an enforcement officer. “The more a driver knows, the easier it is for the law enforcement officer.”
Of the possible exemptions to the ELD rule, the one that concerned DeLorenzo the most was for ‘those using paper records of duty status (RODS) for not more than eight days during any 30-day period.’
DeLorenzo said the last thing he wanted to happen is to have a driver be asked to do a job on day seven and realize that they must now start using an ELD for their HOS and risk not being in compliance with the use of a paper log.
Data transfer was another issue DeLorenzo discussed.
In addition to electronic transfer via email and web services, when a driver must produce their RODS to an enforcement officer roadside, the driver can do so in one of two ways: a printout or by direct screen display.
Electronic data transfer can also be done via USB or Bluetooth. The data transferred to the officer is filtered through eRODS to be analyzed, which is intended to shorten the inspection process, and violations identified are manually confirmed by the safety official.
If no violations are detected, the data transferred to the officer is then deleted. Only when a violation is confirmed is the data retained for supporting documents.
Some technical aspects of the ELD mandate are that dates and times must be automatically obtained without external input, the speed threshold must not exceed 5 mph, vehicle location must be no less than one mile accuracy when on duty and 10 miles when operating under personal conveyance and upon powering up the truck, the ELD must monito engine hours and vehicle miles.
“The key to this whole thing is going to be ‘how are we all communicating,’” DeLorenzo said.
Coming down the pike
Another piece of regulation coming to the US transportation industry is the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.
The legislation is not set to see implementation until 2020, but DeLorenzo wanted to bring the matter to the attention of Outlook 2017 attendees.
The mandate would create a database that would essentially act as a driver background check for carriers, indicating whether the driver has any previous incidents involving drugs or alcohol and whether they went through the mandatory return-to-duty drug and/or alcohol rehabilitation process.
This was something DeLorenzo said is currently not available and would help carrier better determine which drivers they wanted to bring on board.
The Clearinghouse would have a reporting and querying requirement, with employers, consortia/third party administrators and medical review officers reporting on drug and alcohol violations and substance abuse professionals reporting on the rehabilitation process.
Employers will be required to query the Clearinghouse for two purposes: pre-employment screening and annual verification.
There will be no cost to the driver data being entered into the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse, but there will be a fee for carriers; the amount is yet to be determined.
A university graduate with a degree in English, I have worked in the media industry as an editor, reporter and now as editor of Truck West. I have several years of management experience in journalism, as well as hospitality, but am first and foremost a writer, both professionally and in my personal life, having completed two fiction novels.
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