By Dave Osiecki, President of Scopelitis Transportation Consulting LLC, and ELD Consultant to PeopleNet
Reviewing and updating company policies and procedures is an important and necessary step toward successful electronic logging device (ELD) implementation. Most carriers have formal safety and compliance-related policies and procedures, and they should be reviewed and updated as part of the transition to ELDs.
Professional truck drivers operating their trucks (unladen) for personal reasons while on-the-road, and off-the-clock, is nothing new. In fact, personal use (called “personal conveyance” or “PC” by government regulators) is a common and accepted industry practice. As a result, the ELD rules accommodate this type of off-duty truck use. For employee drivers and company owned trucks, it’s the carrier’s choice on whether it will allow use of PC. Does your company have a policy allowing it? If so, does it need to be updated? If not, should your company consider having a policy? Is your company aware of FMCSA’s guidance on PC?
Before ELDs, when a driver moved a truck on a yard, the hours of service rules required the driver to record that time on his paper log. It was an honor system. ELDs will automatically capture every truck move on a yard, and record it as driving time, unless the driver pushes the “yard moves” button. If the yard moves button is pushed, the ELD will record that time as on-duty not driving time (line 4). If a mechanic or other non-driver moves a truck on a yard (or on a highway to road test a truck), and doesn’t log in to the ELD device, the ELD label the person as an “unidentified driver”, and it will capture the time as “unassigned driving time.” Does your company have a policy on non-drivers moving trucks on a yard, or on the road? Does your company have a policy on whether non-drivers, who move trucks on a yard/road, are given an ELD user account? If not, you’ll need a policy.
One of the newer concepts with ELDs is “unassigned driving time.” As mentioned in B above, ELDs will capture truck movement, even if no one is logged in to the ELD. Each one of these “unassigned driving time” events must be reviewed by the driver of that truck during his/her next login, and that time must either be accepted or rejected by the driver. If the driver rejects the time, the rules require carrier staff to review all “unassigned driving time” events, and assign them to the appropriate driver, or explain in a note on the ELD record why it is unassigned. Does your company have a policy and procedure on who will handle this responsibility? Does your company have or need a policy designed to limit the number and type of “unassigned driving time” events?
Drivers will make mistakes while using ELDs, and many of them will be honest mistakes. The new rules accommodate this reality, and allow both drivers and carrier staff to make needed edits. Does your company have a policy regarding whether you prefer drivers make needed edits, or company staff? Should you consider how quickly edits must be made? What if a driver wants to edit his/her ELD record days after it was submitted?
ELDs are computers, and computers can and do fail. When they do, the ELD rules require drivers to notify the carrier in writing within 24 hours, and default to a paper log during the malfunction time- period. Also, the rules require malfunctioning ELDs be fixed or replaced within 8 days. Does your company have policies and procedure covering these new requirements? What is the preferred company procedure for drivers to communicate a malfunction in writing within 24 hours (i.e., an email, a text message, listing it on a DVIR)? Who in the company is responsible for working with your ELD vendor when an ELD malfunctions? If your vendor cannot provide a solution within 8 days, who in the company is responsible for working with FMCSA on an extension?
If you have a bonus program for drivers tied to safety and/or compliance performance, does it address hours of service compliance and ELD use? If not, should you consider it to help facilitate driver acceptance of ELDs, and proper use?
Paper logs allowed, and required, drivers to log all working and off-duty time in 15 minutes increments. With this paper log limitation, a driver, who may have been a few minutes past the maximum driving time, likely reflected it on the paper log as exactly 11 hours of driving time. ELDs will capture every minute of driving time, which means 11 hours and 5 minutes of driving time will be reflected as just that. And, it is a violation. Does your company’s disciplinary policy for hours of service violations address this new ELD reality? A similar scenario could develop for drivers not taking 10 or more hour off-duty between work shifts. Does your company policy address this as well?
The new ELD rules include language that strictly prohibits a carrier from using information obtained from the ELD to force a driver to violate applicable hours of service rules, or drive while either ill or fatigued. This rule is separate and distinct from FMCSA’s anti-coercion rule. Does your company have a policy designed to ensure compliance with this new anti-harassment rule? And, if a driver believes the company may be in violation of this rule, does your company have a procedure in place to handle this type of driver complaint? Are drivers aware of the process to file such complaints with FMCSA?
This list is not exhaustive, and is intended to get carrier personnel thinking about current policies and procedures that may need to be updated, and new company policies that may be needed.
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