Full enforcement of the US electronic logging device (ELD) mandate has been under way since April 1, but federal statistics show that even before that deadline enforcement was far from lax. Data reported online by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) reveal a marked increase in the number of truck driver violations associated with ELDs in early 2018.
From Jan. 1 through Feb. 23, the largest number of driver violations reported involved "operating with a device not registered with the FMCSA." In less than two months, 18,270 examples of that particular driver violation were reported to the FMCSA, compared with 4,325 in all 12 months of 2017. The ELD mandate, which took effect Dec. 18, requires truckers use a device registered with the FMCSA and certified by its vendor through a self-certification process.
That particular violation shot from the 32nd most common infraction in 2017 to the top of the list early this year, overtaking even "log violation (general/form and manner)," usually the top violation, with 162,646 violations issued in 2017. And there were more ELD-related violations.
Inspectors issued 1,616 violations for failure to maintain an ELD user's manual in the first two months of 2018, compared with 288 violations in all of 2017. There were 1,471 violations issued when the ELD could not "transfer ELD records electronically," compared with 304 in 2017. There were violations relating to automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRD), too. Inspectors issued 1,073 violations in January and February citing failure to use the AOBRD when required.
The ELD mandate took effect only two weeks before the end of 2017, so the big leap in ELD-related violations is not surprising. It does confirm, however, that state inspectors, whether at weigh stations or in roadside stops, were strictly enforcing the mandate during its implementation. Since April 1, they have been empowered to put drivers violating the ELD rule out of service, which means the drivers would be sidelined for 10 hours. Inspectors placed 15 drivers out of service in the first two months of 2018 for operating with devices not registered with the FMCSA. They put 3,398 drivers out of service for not having logs at all and another 2,899 for submitting falsified logs, an offense that generated 30,370 out-of-service orders in 2017, and represented nearly three quarters of all out-of-service orders.
Shippers should brace for disruption and ensure their carriers are complying with the mandate as drivers without ELDs are ordered out of service. Just how big of an issue that actually is will become clearer as data begin to flow to the FMCSA from states this month.
Out-of-service orders are not the only concern for motor carriers. There are several less serious violations that still could cost trucking companies and drivers money. For example, inspectors issued 1,279 violations to drivers in January and February for failing to maintain an "ELD instruction sheet." Another 560 violations were issued because a "portable ELD was not mounted in a fixed position and visible to the driver." According to Truckstop.com, fines start at $138 and could climb much higher, especially if drivers cannot provide prior hours of duty status.
The spike in violations likely reflects confusion over what constitutes an ELD and how to use one now that paper logs, for most commercial truck drivers, are history. Also, anecdotal reports indicate many drivers have had difficulty extracting hours-of-service information from the devices to share with inspectors, especially when asked for previous days or weeks logs.
Ken Evans, CEO of ELD supplier Konexial, told JOC.com about half of the devices purchased since December have not even been activated yet, and will likely only be activated when drivers begin to hear about a broader crackdown from law enforcement. "The small carriers, people with 20 or fewer trucks, they all procrastinated," said Evans. Evans believes about 75 percent of truck drivers are now compliant with the ELD mandate.
Source: Journal of Commerce