Personal conveyance: How and when to use it

Ryan Witkowski

With strict regulations for hours-of-service, the use of personal conveyance can be an important tool for truckers. However, it can be a confusing area for some.

Personal conveyance is used to account for the movement of a truck while the driver is off-duty. Current regulatory guidance from the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration states that:

“A driver may record time operating a commercial motor vehicle for personal conveyance as off-duty only when the driver is relieved from work and all responsibility for performing work by the motor carrier. The CMV may be used for personal conveyance even if it is laden, since the load is not being transported for the commercial benefit of the motor carrier at that time. Personal conveyance does not reduce a driver’s or motor carrier’s responsibility to operate a CMV safely. Motor carriers can establish personal conveyance limitations either within the scope of, or more restrictive than, this guidance, such as banning use of a CMV for personal conveyance purposes, imposing a distance limitation on personal conveyance, or prohibiting personal conveyance while the CMV is laden.”

 Drivers can use personal conveyance in a number of ways

Tom Crowley, a compliance and regulatory expert with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, says the use of personal conveyance can benefit drivers looking for safe parking following the end of their 14-hour clock.

“You would have drivers that were at a shipper-receiver who would run out of their 14-hour clock. And so technically they couldn’t drive off of their shipper-receiver’s property,” Crowley said. “Yet the property owner was saying, ‘Hey, you get your truck off my property or I’m going to call the cops!’ That would leave the drivers in the lurch. So the feds came back and said, ‘You can use personal conveyance from a shippers-receivers, if you run out of hours, to the closest option for parking, Not in the way of your next load, but the closest option. So the personal conveyance comes into play there where you’re out of hours, but you got to leave the property. You can use personal conveyance so that you don’t have to show violation to your closest parking option. That’s one way it’s used for the average driver out on the road.”

A former driver, Crowley would drive his truck to the yard and back home every day. By using personal conveyance, his hours would start when he got to the yard and would end when he left the yard.

Additional instances for the use of personal conveyance, according to FMCSA guidance:

  • Time spent traveling from a driver’s en route lodging (such as a motel or truck stop) to restaurants and entertainment facilities.
  • Commuting between the driver’s terminal and their residence, between trailer-drop lots and the driver’s residence, and between work sites and their residence.
  • Time spent traveling to a nearby, reasonable, safe location to obtain required rest after loading or unloading.
  • Moving a commercial motor vehicle at the request of a safety official during the driver’s off-duty time.
  • Time spent transporting personal property while off-duty.
  • Authorized use of a commercial motor vehicle to travel home after working at an offsite location.

Logging personal conveyance

Crowley said that drivers using a paper record of duty status can use the provision without changing their current logging procedures. However, drivers using an ELD will want to account for the miles put on their truck while they’re off duty.

“You don’t have to keep any records. Technically, when you are on personal conveyance, there are no hours of service to cover you, so you don’t have to log anything,” Crowley said. “That said, you’ve got an ELD that’s tracking every mile you go, most folks do now. So they need to put the ELD into a status that will show personal conveyance rather than keeping their hours. So that’s when they would either use the PC button, or technically they could log totally out of the system. But then they would still have those unaccounted for miles to deal with.”

As part of the FMCSA’s ELD rule, manufacturers are required to include a special driving category for personal conveyance.

Crowley said drivers need to be aware of instances where personal conveyance and its use can be misinterpreted.

“You’re out of deodorant. You run to Walmart, buy some deodorant and go back to the truck shop. That’s a personal conveyance move,” he said. “But here’s the thing. If while you’re at Walmart, you buy you a gallon of oil for your truck, you’ve negated the personal conveyance. Because now it was a business-related move. Just to, you know, keep it complicated.”

While some gray areas still exist for the use of the provision, Crowley said that the most common instance for its misuse stems from drivers inaccurately determining off-duty status.

“A lot of drivers have the tendency to think if they are not under a load that they are on personal conveyance,” he said. “So I leave Kansas City, I go out to L.A. to deliver my load and then I’m going back to KC empty. You cannot personal conveyance back to Kansas City empty because that is part of your trip. But drivers tend to think that if I am not under dispatch, you know, I’m not under a load that I can use personal conveyance. And I all the time have to say no. ‘Well, I’ve been doing that.’ Well, you haven’t been caught. That’s the only thing.”

Other instances that would not qualify as personal conveyance, according to the current FMCSA regulatory guidance, are as follows:

  • The movement of a commercial motor vehicle in order to enhance the operational readiness of a motor carrier. For example, bypassing available resting locations in order to get closer to the next loading or unloading point or other scheduled motor carrier destination.
  • After delivering a towed unit, and the towing unit no longer meets the definition of a CMV, the driver returns to the point of origin under the direction of the motor carrier to pick up another towed unit.
  • Continuation of a commercial motor vehicle trip in interstate commerce in order to fulfill a business purpose, including bobtailing or operating with an empty trailer in order to retrieve another load or repositioning a tractor or trailer at the direction of the motor carrier.
  • Time spent transporting a commercial motor vehicle to a facility to have vehicle maintenance performed.
  • Time spent traveling to a motor carrier’s terminal after loading or unloading from a shipper or a receiver.

Knowing when to use – and more importantly when not to use – personal conveyance is important. Drivers who inaccurately use personal conveyance are subject to penalty.

“That would be falsification of the logbook and that would equal immediate out of service for 10 hours,” Crowley said. “And that is absolutely what happens to them.”

Changes to FMCSA’s guidance on personal conveyance

On March 29, 2022, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance petitioned FMCSA to amend the current guidance regarding the use of personal conveyance. In its petition, CVSA has requested the administration better define it by adding a maximum distance and/or time drivers could operate under that designation.

“Under the current guidance, a driver could, in theory, drive hundreds of miles over the course of several hours all under the designation of personal conveyance,” the alliance wrote in its petition to FMCSA. “This presents the opportunity for increased driver fatigue and risk on our roadways, as drivers may decide to travel hundreds of miles in order to strategically relocate to an alternate location after driving a full day. Without a maximum daily distance and/or time limit, the guidance presents a legal way for drivers to significantly extend their driving time and the furtherance of their load while recording personal conveyance. The hours-of-service limits exist to mitigate the impacts of fatigue on highway safety. Allowing significant extension of driving time with the use of personal conveyance undermines the goals of the hours-of-service regulations.”

CVSA initially petitioned FMCSA to make this change on Dec. 17, 2018, prior to the current revised guidance being put into effect. That petition was denied on Sept. 18, 2020.

The request by CVSA is not ungrounded

Canadian truckers are limited in the distance they can travel under the use of personal conveyance. Current guidelines limit its use to 75 km (around 47 miles) per day. The driver must logged as off-duty with the truck unloaded and trailers unhitched.

According to CVSA, false records of duty status violations represented the 3rd most documented driver violation in 2021. In June 2021, a violation code was added to roadside inspection software which allowed inspectors to note when false record of duty status violations were a result of the misuse of personal conveyance. As of Jan. 28, there had been reported 3,041 violations indicating the misuse of personal conveyance. Additionally, 61% of those violations resulted in the driver being placed out of service because their misuse of personal conveyance was an attempt to conceal extra driving time.

“By establishing a maximum allowed distance or time for personal conveyance, FMCSA will not only eliminate confusion and inconsistent enforcement among inspectors on this issue but will also ensure safer roads as commercial motor vehicle drivers and motor carriers are on notice that personal conveyance time cannot be used as a safe harbor for driving hundreds of miles after exhausting their hours of service.”

Check out this good article from Brandon Wiseman – click here.

Motor Carriers can often find themselves in a frustrating scenario trying to defend why they do not have a current “SATISFACTORY” safety rating. It is understandable to question a motor carrier’s safety rating when they are currently “CONDITIONAL” or even “UNSATISFACTORY.” However, a non-rated motor carrier is often put in a position of defense when questioned by a variety of entities, such as shippers, receivers, brokers, and even insurance providers.

John Seidl

The current rating process is outlined in 49 CFR Part 385. This rating process has been in existence before CSA was ever developed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). It dates back to the SAFESTAT days (for those of you that have been in the brokerage/motor carrier space that long). We then found our way to the Safety Measurement System (SMS) and CSA.

In moving to SMS – CSA, there was an attempt to replace the current rating process with the Carrier Safety Fitness Determination, but that has gone by the wayside. This would have eliminated an antiquated rating process and replaced it with one that would have included roadside inspection data as well as results of compliance reviews.

What we are left with is an often misunderstood process. Here is an attempt at explaining each of these ratings:

NON-RATED: Simply stated, this a carrier that has either never undergone a “FULL” FMCSA compliance review in which all parts of compliance were checked, or a “FOCUSED” review in which some parts, but not all were checked for compliance. Additionally, they could have undergone a FOCUSED review whereas nothing was found that would have resulted in a proposed Unsatisfactory or Conditional rating, as outlined in Part 385, thus resulting in being non-rated.

UNSATISFACTORY: Simply stated, this carrier would have undergone a FULL or a FOCUSED review, and the findings of that review for the carrier would have resulted in a UNSATISFACTORY rating, as outlined in Part 385. It should be noted that ratings are proposed and do not take affect for 45 days if you transport hazardous materials and 60 days if you do not transport hazardous material. Proposed UNSATISFACORY carriers must complete a 49 CFR 385.17 upgrade request prior to the 45/60 day time frame or be subject to a FMCSA Out-of-Service Order.

CONDITIONAL: Simply stated, this carrier would have undergone a FULL or a FOCUSED review, and the findings of that review for the Carrier would have resulted in a CONDITIONAL rating, as outlined in Part 385. Proposed Conditional carriers can complete a 49 CFR 385.17 upgrade request during the aforementioned timeframes, or they simply attempt to operate with this rating until which time they feel corrections have been made to warrant an upgrade.

SATISFACTORY:  Simply stated, this carrier has undergone a FULL review at some point in their history. You cannot be a SATISFACTORY carrier without having undergone a FULL review. FOCUSED reviews do not result in SATISFACTORY ratings. You can maintain a previous issued SATISFACTORY rating if you pass a FOCUSED review, but cannot be issued a new SATISFACTORY rating without a FULL review.

Let’s summarize this:

  • Carrier A has been so good that they have never undergone any FMCSA review – NON-RATED.
  • Carrier B underwent a FULL review that resulted in a Conditional Rating, completed a 385.17 upgrade request, which was subsequently approved by FMCSA – SATISFACTORY.
  • Carrier C underwent a FULL review that resulted in a UNSATISFACTORY Rating, completed a 385.17 upgrade request, subsequently approved to CONDITIONAL, then completed another 385.17 upgrade request over time, which was subsequently approved – SATISFACTORY.
  • Carrier D was Satisfactory and underwent a FOCUSED review that resulted in a CONDITIONAL Rating, completed a 385.17 upgrade request, which was subsequently approved by FMCSA – SATISFACTORY .
  • Carrier E was Non-Rated and underwent a FOCUSED review that resulted in a CONDITIONAL Rating, completed a 385.17 upgrade request, which was subsequently approved by FMCSA – NON-RATED.

Since SMS – CSA, there has been a substantial move in the types of reviews that are completed. Under SAFESTAT, the majority of the reviews were primarily FULL reviews. Under SMS – CSA, the majority of the reviews are FOCUSED. This has resulted in far fewer SATISFACTORY ratings being issued since SAFESTAT went away.

Shippers, receivers, brokers, and insurance providers have to understand that in many cases a NON-RATED motor carrier is actually better than SATISFACTORY motor carrier.

When applying this information it is important to not confuse a New Entrant Safety Audit with any of these ratings because ratings are only assigned for FULL or FOCUSED reviews as noted here, not for New Entrant Safety Audits. New Entrant Safety Audits result in Pass/Fail.

The following is a brief overview of the Entry Level Driver Training program.  For complete information click on the link below.

Interested in ELDT?

Select a scenario below to determine if you are required to complete entry-level driver training.

You must complete the required entry-level driver training for the class of CDL to which you are upgrading before you will be permitted to take the CDL skills test.

You are not required to complete entry-level driver training, as long as you obtain a CDL before the CLP, or renewed CLP, expires.

You must complete the required entry-level driver training for the endorsement(s) for which you are applying before you will be permitted to take the S or P skills test or H knowledge test.

You must complete the required entry-level driver training before you will be permitted to take the CDL skills test, the S or P skills test, or the H knowledge test.

You are not required to complete entry-level driver training to obtain a CDL, even if the previously-issued CDL has since lapsed.

You are not required to complete entry-level driver training for the previously-issued endorsement, even if it has since lapsed.

You must complete the required entry-level driver training before you will be permitted to take the CDL skills test.

What are the Entry-Level Driver Training regulations?

The ELDT regulations set the minimum Federal requirements for training that entry-level drivers must complete before being permitted to take certain commercial driver’s license (CDL) skills or knowledge tests on or after February 7, 2022.

Who is considered an entry-level driver? Individuals applying to:

  • Obtain a Class A CDL or Class B CDL for the first time;
  • Upgrade an existing Class B CDL to a Class A CDL;
  • Obtain a school bus (S), passenger (P), or hazardous materials (H) endorsement for the first time.
  • The ELDT requirements apply to individuals who obtain a commercial learner’s permit (CLP) on or after February 7, 2022.
  • The ELDT regulations are not retroactive; individuals who were issued a CDL or an S, P, or H endorsement prior to February 7, 2022 are not required to complete training for the respective CDL or endorsement.

ELDT Exceptions

The ELDT regulations do not apply to individuals excepted from the CDL requirements under 49 CFR part 383.

This includes:

Overedrive Staff

Study finds trucking accidents up after ELDs

On its way to publication in the Journal of Operations Management last year, a study by researchers at the University of Arkansas previously reported on in 2019 in Overdrive ended up highlighting a significant outcome of the electronic logging device mandate implemented fully in 2017-’18.

The mandate, the study concluded, did not result in any reduction of accidents. Its implementation correlated, rather, with an increase in both accidents and in recorded unsafe driving incidents, specifically speeding.

Researchers found that compliance with federal hours of service regulations has significantly improved since the ELD mandate took effect in December 2017, especially for small carriers and independent owner-operators the researchers viewed as most impacted by the mandate. Large carriers, researchers assumed, had been using ELDs or their predecessor, the automatic on-board recording device, long before the mandate.

Despite higher levels of hours of service compliance, researchers found that the number of accidents increased for most carriers after the ELD mandate took effect. That was especially true for independent owner-operators, who saw an 11.6% increase in accidents, and small fleets of between two and 20 trucks, with a 9% increase, the study found.

An analysis of unsafe driving violations for different sizes of carriers showed an increase compared to violations before the mandate took effect. This was true for all sizes of carriers, the researchers said, but the increases were greater for small- and medium-sized carriers who had not been using ELDs prior to the mandate.

“Our results indicate the electronic logging device mandate did not immediately achieve its goal of reducing accidents,” said Andrew Balthrop, research associate in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas. “Drivers have reacted in ways the FMCSA has not fully anticipated, and these behaviors should be accounted for as the FMCSA revisits their hours-of-service policies.”

ince the mandate was handed down, FMCSA has responded in some measures to operators’ calls for hours of service flexibility by adding a 7/3 sleeper berth split in addition to the previously-allowed 8/2 split; adding the ability to pause the 14-hour on-duty clock for up to three hours a day via those split regs; and allowing drivers to take their 30-minute break in on-duty, non-driving status within the first eight hours of drive time rather than the first eight hours of on-duty time in off-duty status; and more.

The ELD mandate coincided with an increase in unsafe driving and speeding citations among truck drivers, and this likely caused an increase in accidents, Balthrop added. Researchers concluded that the stricter hours of service enforcement seems to have led more drivers to try to compress their routes into the time allotted.

A good article by Deborah Lockridge here.

Final Reminder: Mobile carriers are sunsetting 3G. Have you checked to see if your ELD is affected?

As we shared via email on November 1, 2021 and November 19, 2021, mobile carriers are shutting down their 3G networks to make room for more advanced network services, including 5G. As a result, many older cell phones and other mobile devices will be unable to use data services.

Once a 3G network is no longer supported, it is highly unlikely that any ELDs that rely on that network will be able to meet the minimum requirements established by the ELD Technical Specifications, including recording all required data elements and transferring ELD output files.

Therefore, any ELD that requires 3G cellular connectivity to perform its functionality will no longer be in compliance with the technical specifications in the ELD rule after the 3G network it relies on is sunset. When in an area that does not support 3G, a 3G device will register a malfunction. In accordance with 49 CFR 395.34, the carrier has 8 days to get the malfunction resolved, in this case by replacement, unless an extension is granted.

The announced sunset dates are below.* These are dates for completing the shutdowns. Mobile carriers are planning to retire parts of their networks sooner.

  • AT&T 3G: February 22, 2022
  • Sprint 3G (T-Mobile): March 31, 2022
  • Sprint LTE (T-Mobile): June 30, 2022
  • T-Mobile 3G: July 1, 2022
  • Verizon 3G: December 31, 2022

Note: Many other carriers, such as Cricket, Boost, Straight Talk, and several Lifeline mobile service providers, utilize the AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile networks.

*Sunset dates are subject to change. Contact your mobile carrier for up-to-date information.

What actions do motor carriers need to take?

Confirm whether your ELD relies on a 3G network

If you are unsure if your ELD relies on a 3G network, contact your ELD provider. If your ELD does not rely on 3G, and meets all minimum requirements, no further action is needed.

Ask your provider for their upgrade or replacement plan

If your ELD relies on a 3G network, ask your ELD provider about their plan for upgrading or replacing your device to one that will be supported after the 3G sunset, and to complete the necessary actions as soon as possible.

The earliest announced sunset completion date is February 22, 2022. See all announced dates listed above and plan accordingly to avoid service disruptions and compliance issues. FMCSA strongly encourages motor carriers to take the above actions as soon as possible to avoid compliance issues, as portions of carrier 3G networks will be unsupported in advance of the announced sunset dates.



Daren Hansen

Commercial vehicle inspections are critical to highway safety. Yet safety managers, mechanics, and drivers frequently have questions about the paperwork they need to fill out and retain. We’ll look at some of their commonly asked questions about vehicle inspections and maintenance recordkeeping.

However, before we jump into that, we need to clarify that these FAQs apply to anyone who operates a CMV as defined in section 390.5 of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). These rules apply to motor vehicles used in interstate commerce, making them subject to federal safety rules instead of vehicles operating in intrastate commerce within one state, subject to that state’s laws. States typically follow the same federal regulations, but some states have a different definition for what constitutes a CMV. If you operate in intrastate commerce, it’s essential to know your state’s requirements and how those rules differ from federal standards.

Do My Drivers Need to Carry DVIRs?

Drivers do not need to carry a copy of the last completed DVIR or even last week’s or last month’s DVIRs. They don’t even need to have blank DVIRs. In 1998, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) removed the drivers’ requirement to carry their last completed DVIR in the vehicle. Today, a driver not having a copy of a previous DVIR to show an officer is not in violation, even if the officer asks to see it.

Still, some carriers see the value in the vehicle inspection recordkeeping process, in particular, the use of electronic DVIRs, or eDVIRs.  They automate the collection of odometer readings to ensure timely preventive maintenance (PM), help fleet professionals stay on top of compliance gaps through notifications of overdue maintenance and out-of-service (OOS) defects, and provide an additional record of compliance with the FMCSRs in the event of a crash.

Does a Copy of the Annual Inspection Need to be in the Truck?

Drivers do not need to carry the annual long inspection form IF they have an annual inspection decal on the vehicle. But it is legal to possess the long form instead of the decal – they need one or the other, but not both.

What Records Do I Need to Keep?

You are required by law to keep accurate and thorough records, which must include:

Vehicle information

·        Make and model

·        VIN and fleet number

·        Tire size

·        Preventive maintenance schedule

12-month record of inspection, maintenance, and repairs

·     14 months for annual inspections

·     Three months for DVIRs

·     Length of ownership plus three years for engine changes

What Records are Required for the Individual Conducting Annual Inspections?

You need documentation to show that individuals conducting your annual inspections, including third parties, are qualified to do so and have at least a year of experience and/or training on annual inspections.

Are Digital or Electronic Records Legal?

Digital or electronic recordkeeping methods are allowed under section 390.32. You are required to ensure documents:

1.   Contain all the necessary elements (including signatures),

2.   Are stored for as long as required, and

3.   Are accessible for auditing.

You can scan in paper forms or use electronic systems to create documents electronically. Electronic records help you avoid problems that pop up with paper, like routing DVIRs to everyone who needs to see them, dealing with multiple plies and carbons, drivers misplacing documents or forgetting to sign them, and so on. If you haven’t gone electronic to maintain your records, consider an automated fleet management system. It saves a lot of time and ensures compliance with the FMCSRs.

Do I Need to Keep Inspection Records for Leased Vehicles?

An exception in section 390.3 is offered in the regulations removing the maintenance file requirements for vehicles that you control for less than 30 days.

Any ELD or telematics device that requires 3G cellular connectivity will cease to operate in 2022. An ELD that uses 3G to perform its functionality will no longer be in compliance with the technical specifications in the ELD rule after the 3G network it relies on is sunset. When in an area that does not support 3G, a 3G device will register a malfunction. In accordance with 49 CFR 395.34, the carrier has 8 days to get the malfunction resolved, in this case by replacement, unless an extension is granted.

The announced sunset dates are below. Mobile carriers are planning to retire parts of their networks sooner.

  • AT&T 3G: February 22, 2022
  • Sprint 3G (T-Mobile): March 31, 2022
  • Sprint LTE (T-Mobile): June 30, 2022
  • T-Mobile 3G: July 1, 2022
  • Verizon 3G: December 31, 2022

Dennis J. Junk

Interested in cameras and telematics for your fleet but not sure where to begin? Well, here we’re going to walk you through the whole process, at a high level, of planning and implementation. This should give you an idea what you’ll be getting into, what you can expect, and how you can make sure the project pays dividends.

This is meant as a flexible outline, so we won’t use numbered bullets to suggest a rigid ordering. But many of the individual steps follow logically from the ones before, so the order isn’t completely arbitrary.

Let’s jump in.

Identify Challenges and Set Goals

You’re probably looking into cameras and telematics systems because your fleet has an issue you need to address, like growing fuel cost or spiking insurance rates, just to name a couple of the most common ones. Following the principle that you measure what you want to improve, you can begin by listing the ways your fleet could reduce costs and increase efficiency.

Cameras provide benefits in the realms of safe driving, security, and protection from liability. Telematics provide information on the vehicle’s performance, location, fuel efficiency, and even the RPM for the wheels. So, you have options for what you’ll want to focus on with your implementation.

The important thing to remember is that these are complex technologies, and you’ll be working with them in a complex environment. Cameras and telematics aren’t the type of tool where you set it and forget it. You won’t be able to simply install them and then stand back to watch the benefits accrue. Rather, you’ll need to have a detailed plan in place with both specific goals and ways to measure progress if you want to get the most out of your investment.

Research Partners and Providers

If you’re focusing on lowering your insurance premium, the first step is to contact your insurance provider and ask which approaches to performance tracking they prefer. Does the provider offer any discounts for cameras or telematics implementation?

If not, maybe they can tell you which areas to focus on, so you can improve your safety record when it comes to the metrics that will be most likely to reduce your rates. And, if your provider has nothing to offer, it may be time to shop around for an insurer who will work with you to transform your ongoing performance tracking and continually improving safety record into a lower premium.

Whatever goal you’re aiming toward, it’s a good idea to reach out to whichever partners or providers will be impacted. There’s a good chance they’ll be able to give you some guidance in your planning and decision-making going forward.

You’ll also want to begin the process of researching providers of the camera and telematics systems themselves. The first step is to generate a list of the main players in the industry. Look for third-party reviews when possible. But the main objective for now is to get a grasp on what each vendor offers, along with a ballpark figure of what your company will pay.

(Getting a sense of costs can be tricky, because most providers want to be in the room with you before they talk numbers. This is where customer reviews will come in especially handy.)

Create a Draft Proposal

Now, it’s time to document your findings on the potential benefits and costs, along with an outline of the process from choosing a vendor to implementing the solution, and on to evaluating the results. This is the document you’ll use to educate and get buy-in from stakeholders. It will also help you and your team stay on track and maintain your focus on the key milestones along the way.

Keep in mind the purpose of this draft proposal is to give you a rough sense of where you’re going with the project. Once the process is underway, the plan is certain to change. So, don’t hesitate to make revisions as you learn more about the technology and as you acquire more input from both providers and stakeholders.

Since the plan is bound to change as your team progresses through the stages, you won’t want to devote too much time to zeroing in on the details. There’s no point risking getting stuck in the weeds when any given part of the plan is apt to change anyway.

The rule of thumb is that the nearer the step, the more detail you’ll need. The farther the step is from where you are now, the more provisional, and the less detailed your outline will be. But that doesn’t mean you should abandon the plan at any stage for lack of clarity or certainty.

For at least the next two or three steps in the process, you’ll want to include achievable tasks and realistic deadlines, so you can keep the project moving forward until you’re back on more solid ground.

Get Buy-In from Executives

You may have been assigned the task of planning a camera and telematics implementation by executives in your company. Even in this case, however, chances are these executives are still going to want to know what you’ve discovered in your research and how your plan is taking shape.

If the project came about through your own initiative, this is the time to find out how much support you can count on. Your managers are going to want to know what issues you’re hoping to address, or what opportunities you’re hoping to take advantage of. Naturally, they’re going to want to see a timeline and a cost-benefit comparison. And they’re going to want to know what the implementation is going to entail. Will it, for instance, mean downtime for a significant number of trucks in the fleet?

Go into these meetings with an open mind, as this is one of the points where your plan faces a high likelihood of revision. The keys to success are that you come away with benchmarks for reporting on progress, and that you have a good idea what the executives’ expectations are and how you’re going to fulfill them.

Assign Someone to Manage the Implementation Project

The buck must stop somewhere, or the project will languish in the typical back-and-forth that plagues large organizations. The implementation will go much more smoothly if you have a single person who’s ultimately responsible. How this manager organizes her team, if she needs to do so, can be left up to her. But this person will need to:

  • Keep executives informed of progress
  • Keep drivers onboard at each stage
  • Establish metrics for monitoring improvement
  • Evaluate providers
  • Lay the groundwork for the eventual launch.

By this point, you’ve already set the goals, answering the question of what you hope to accomplish. The manager of the project will now have to answer the question of how you’ll accomplish it. There will be a lot of moving parts, so avoiding uncertainty over who’s in charge of what will be critical to success.

Involve Drivers in the Planning

Most fleets make the mistake of informing drivers about the cameras and telematics only after most of the planning has taken place and it’s time to install the technology. The problem with waiting to bring drivers into the loop is that it lends to the perception that the new tools and new practices are being handed down from on high—and if they don’t like, that’s tough.

Especially in cases where cameras are pointing at the drivers themselves, it’s crucial that you avoid giving people the impression that you’re spying on them, trying to catch them doing something wrong so you can use it against them somehow. Once this sort of adversarial mindset has taken hold, you can be sure your drivers will fight you every step of the way.

The most effective way to get drivers to take ownership of the project is to involve them as early as possible in the planning. Let them know exactly what goals you’re hoping to achieve, along with how achieving those goals will benefit everyone in the company. Then solicit their input into how to make the project a success—and insofar as possible, let them see their input being incorporated into the plan.

If your fleet is large and getting all your drivers to planning meetings is logistically infeasible, you can have them choose representatives. It will be the responsibility of these representatives to gather concerns and suggestions from some subset of your drivers and communicate them to the team in charge of planning and implementation.

Evaluate Providers

Now, it’s time to go deeper into your research of providers. At this stage, you’ll be reaching out to some of your top picks and sharing your plan with them. The biggest part of these evaluations will focus on demos they put on for you and your company’s stakeholders, so you can determine not just whether their products meet all of your specifications, but whether they do so in a way that’s intuitive.

Along with specific questions pertaining to your goals, you’ll want to ask:

  • How responsive will the provider be to your fleet’s evolving requirements?
  • What kind of training do they offer for drivers and technicians?
  • What does the installation process entail?
  • How flexible is the system they offer?
  • How much downtime will be required for installation and training?
  • How will the partnership evolve as new technologies or new market conditions emerge?

Run Pilot Projects

Many providers offer the option of installing their technology in a small number of vehicles so you and your team can do a trial run before making a commitment. This is important because it’s one thing to watch a demo put on by sales representatives—it’s something entirely different to get your hands on the tools yourself.

The objective isn’t simply to install the tools and see how easy they are to use. Rather, you want to test each provider’s products with reference to the goals you established for the implementation at the outset.

It’s important not to be drawn in by fancy gizmos and whizbang interfaces. Instead, you’ll want to compare offerings based on the clarity and efficiency they deliver in helping you track (and thus improve) the metrics that you’ve already identified as critical to your operations.

Create an Installation Plan

Once you’ve chosen a provider and a set of tools, the next step is to figure out how you’re going to get these tools on all your vehicles. This is another point where you can ask your drivers for input. Keep track of how much time each installation takes so you can budget downtime for all your vehicles as you progress. You may want to do installation on clusters of vehicles, taking them off the road in groups. Or you may want to create a schedule for working on them sequentially at a consistent rate.

Getting the equipment on the trucks is just part of the challenge at this point, though. You also have to make sure your drivers know how to operate it. You can take on installation and training at the same time, instructing drivers while their vehicles are sidelined. Or you can proceed in stages, which takes us to the next step.

Train Drivers and Technicians

Here is where getting your drivers involved early on will pay off. With any luck, most of them will be excited to finally get to use the new tools they’ve been discussing for weeks. There are all kinds of venues where instruction can take place: meetings for live training, webinars, online videos and tutorials, even in-cab coaching sessions.

You will most likely collaborate closely with your providers at this stage, so it’s a good idea to find out what kind of training programs and materials they offer long before the time comes. You’ll also want to prioritize establishing channels for everyone to get their questions answered as well as ongoing incentives for adherence to your newly developed (and continually evolving) protocols.

Create a Process for Ongoing Evaluation and Improvement

A successful camera and telematics installation project doesn’t end after all your vehicles are equipped and all your drivers are trained. Indeed, you won’t know if the project has been a success until you’ve had a chance to see how far your fleet is moving toward the goals you set at the beginning.

Ideally, you’ll have regular evaluations of the system at predetermined intervals into the indefinite future. But, for now, you’ll want to set a date for at least one, which will take place after sufficient time has elapsed for the fleet to have made measurable progress toward your goals.

It will still be important to include drivers (or their representatives) in these evaluations. Not only will they have key insights into how the system is working and where it’s blind spots may be, but letting them see that their input is being taken seriously is one of the most effective ways to keep them invested in the project’s success.

The big takeaway here is that throughout the process you’ll need to remember that this isn’t a camera and telematics project. It’s an insurance-reduction project. Or a safety-improvement project. Or a customer-satisfaction project. The cameras and telematics technologies are merely tools, powerful though they may be, to get you to the goals that inspired you to take on the project in the first place.