With the many models of ELDs and AOBRDs in use today, along with varying levels of inspector and driver knowledge of those systems, getting your drivers ready for roadside inspections with ELDs is more critical than ever. Preparing your drivers ahead of time will greatly reduce their stress. And the better prepared the driver, the quicker the inspection will be, which will reflect well on your company and leave a good impression with inspectors. Electronic logs have been in use for years, so you can’t expect “soft enforcement” on hours-of-service violations, as limits’ regulations have not changed. Below we list five steps you can take to prepare your drivers for a new way of communicating their hours to inspection personnel:
- Train your drivers thoroughly on how to transfer hours’ data via both options within the local or telematic method (whichever method is used by your ELD). Officers will not want to handle cell phones or tablets to avoid any perception of impropriety or accidental breakage. Role play the inspection process with your drivers until they are comfortable navigating within the ELD application. Choosing a driver-friendly ELD will make the system easier to learn and give your drivers more confidence during an inspection. (AOBRDs do not need to transfer data, only display data.)
- Train thoroughly on how to display or print hours data. If the data transfer doesn’t work or is extremely slow, the driver must know how to print data or get the ELD in “inspection mode” to display the hours of the current day and prior seven days. To avoid a violation, the display must be capable of review without the officer entering the cab.
- Train and verify the drivers’ understanding of identifying and correcting basic malfunctions and resolving data inconsistencies. The ELD manual, malfunction and data transfer procedure instructions, and 8 days of blank logs must have readily available to show the officer. If you have upgraded from an AOBRD to an ELD recently, verify that the documentation is for the ELD, not the AOBRD.
- Train drivers on the proper use of the “Personal Use” and “Yard Move” options. “Personal Use” is not to be used to reposition a truck after running out of hours. Duty status locations won’t match, causing enforcement to scrutinize these moves. Have a clear policy on when this option can be used and make sure that drivers understand it.“Personal Use” is covered only in DOT Interpretation number 26 in §395.8 and allows moves from the terminal to home and back to the terminal, and from enroute lodging to personal destinations only when unladen. The “Yard Move” option can only be used on property that cannot be deemed a highway. Private property can be a “highway” (see §390.5) unless it is gated or signed prohibiting public access.
- Drivers and operations personnel should understand the ELD-related violations that can result in an Out-of-Service Order. Covering these violations should be part of your ELD training and will help drivers understand their responsibilities under the ELD mandate. Here’s a few examples:
- Using an ELD that is not on the registry, a device that an officer believes is noncompliant, or not using an ELD or AOBRD at all when required. An officer will report a potentially non-compliant device to the FMCSA for possible decertification.
- Drivers unable to produce, display, or transfer the required hours, which includes after a malfunction, not having reconstructed logs of the current day, and not having printed copies of the prior seven days’ logs.
- Carrier hasn’t repaired or replaced the ELD within 8 days of a malfunction and doesn’t have an extension from the FMCSA.
- Creating a false log. Drivers that have not appropriately logged into a device may be cited for intentional falsification. Other common ways to falsify logs are logging out and driving when out of hours or not logging into the ELD to avoid starting their clock.
Above all, coach your drivers to remain calm and be patient. Remind them that for the first few months of the mandate, enforcement officers are also learning, and they have more than one ELD system to deal with. It goes without saying but I’ll say it again, drivers should never argue with the officer. Rather, they should ask the officer to show them or tell them the exact nature of the violation and include a regulation citation, if possible.