How to avoid hours of service violations post-ELD mandate
Hours of service regulations have always been an issue in the trucking industry, as they’ve often been the most common cause for receiving violations or being placed out of service.
Before the ELD mandate, paper logs and AOBRD allowed much leniency with recording hours, which sometimes resulted in logs that weren’t completely accurate. To begin cracking down on these activities, as well as emphasizing safety as a whole, the FMCSA introduced the ELD mandate.
Upon its initial implementation, the ELD mandate was universally detested, however, it has played a key role in improving hours of service infractions thus far.
During the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s International Roadcheck, nearly 50 percent of drivers placed out of service was due to hours of service violations. Nevertheless, this issue became an uncommon occurrence in recent months, as more carriers began to implement ELDs among their fleets.
Because electronic logging devices make it so the process of logging hours is completely automated, it takes potential human error out of the equation. Therefore, as soon as companies began to transition from paper logs and AOBRD to ELDs, hours of service violation began to see an industry-wide decrease.
When the ELD mandate initially came to fruition, the FMCSA reported that violations dropped from 1.19 percent in December 2017 to 0.83 percent in January 2018. Up to the final December 2019 deadline, the percentage of violations hovered around 0.53 percent, with the latest numbers showing that violations were up to 0.68 percent in January 2020.
Even with the slight increase, however, violations are down significantly from where they started in December 2017. As companies begin to readjust to the final mandate, and if the trend is to be believed, then violations should only continue to fall throughout 2020.
Nevertheless, just because you have an ELD, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be exempt from receiving an hours of service violation. While they’ve been efficient at progressively nullifying the issue, there are still situations in which you’ll need to be prepared in order to avoid receiving an unwanted violation from a DOT officer.
In order to be better prepared to avoid violations, you’ll need to understand how to deal with ELD malfunctions and how to find if your ELD is FMCSA-compliant. Here’s what you need to know:
Unfortunately, when it comes to any kind of technology, malfunctions are bound to happen at some point. Whether it’s caused by an internal update or hardware damages, there’s plenty of factors that can trigger a malfunction.
Nevertheless, it’ll be important to be well-acquainted with your provider's customer support. In the case of UTECH’s GPSTab, we provide 24/7 quality customer support, allowing us to be there for our customers when they need us most.
In the case of dealing with an ELD malfunction, you’ll want to make sure to notify your dispatcher or immediate manager to make sure they’re aware you’re having issues. Because it can be difficult to make a call while on the road, informing a dispatcher or immediate manager can be crucial to getting the problem solved as soon as possible.
For the most part, issues will be able to be handled by customer service representatives, however, in other cases more time will be required to fix the problem.
In times like these, a driver can use a malfunction letter to avoid being potentially placed out of service by a DOT officer.
When an ELD system malfunctions, it must be repaired within 8 days. As previously mentioned, truckers must notify their dispatcher of the issue, and the dispatcher will then contact their provider and try to get the issue resolved as soon as possible.
However, this process can leave the driver in the dark, and in danger of receiving a violation if they’re stopped by a DOT officer. Without documentation of the issue, the officer can just assume that the driver is not following FMCSA regulations.
Nonetheless, this issue can be mitigated with a malfunction letter. While they’re not mandatory to produce for carriers, some such as GPSTab do go the extra mile for their customers by providing them.
A malfunction letter provides officers with information on the issue, which can stop them from reprimanding the driver. The document may not always be sufficient, though, as not all officers may accept them as a proper excuse for not having logs readily available.
Because of this, drivers should also continue to track their hours of service with paper logs, as they would before the ELD mandate.
As technology continues to change in the trucking industry, it’ll be important for drivers to find ways to adapt. By asking your carrier for a malfunction letter, you can take extra precautionary steps to make sure you’re still compliant.
In the end, it’s better to be safe than sorry. So, if your provider allows you to receive malfunction letters, such as GPSTab, you can save yourself from an unnecessary violation that could ruin your CSA score.
Making sure your ELD is FMCSA-compliant
Once you’ve signed up with an ELD solution, the last thing you want to happen is to find out that they’re not FMCSA-compliant.
Nevertheless, finding out is relatively easy, and can be done in a matter of minutes. Ultimately, making sure your ELD is compliant with FMCSA regulations can help you avoid costly violations.
You’re going to want to start by going on the FMCSA website, and then going on the Equipment Registration page and clicking on “Visit the new ELD Providers landing page.”
When you do that it’ll take you to the FMCSA’s dedicated ELD information website, where you can find more facts and information on how ELDs work and how you can make the switch from AOBRD.
Once there, you have to click on the tab that says “ELD Providers” on the far left side of the menu and click on “View ELD List.”
This will take you to a list of ELDs compiled by the FMCSA, which includes Registered ELDs and Revoked ELDs. If you don’t see your particular ELD in the Registered section, you can also try to find it in the Revoked section. There, you’ll find that the device did not meet ELD technical specifications or if the device is Self Revoked, it could mean that the company went out of business or their version was no longer needed.
You can and should also use the “Search” bar at the top left of the menu bar to quickly find the specific ELD or company you’re looking for.
The list of Registered devices that the FMSCA provides will include the device name, model number, software version, ELD identifier, and the company that it's from. So, once you’ve found your device, you’re in the clear.
All providers on the market should also continuously inform the FMCSA of any major changes or enhancements to their products, ensure the security of their devices, and work with carriers to quickly resolve any technical malfunctions or issues.
Once you’ve learned how to deal with potential malfunctions and take precautions against non-compliant ELDs, you can rest assured that you’ll be better prepared to avoid unwanted violations. If you have any further tips, please let us know on social media or the comments below!
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