FMCSA on ELDs and enforcement: Know what you’re dealing with at roadside

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Updated Aug 24, 2018

At the Great American Trucking Show in Dallas Aug. 23, FMCSA Office of Enforcement Director Joe DeLorenzo called out what the agency has seen as the most common couple of issues arising at the roadside when it comes to the inspection of drivers’ hours of service via electronic logging devices of all types since the mandate came into play with hard enforcement April 1. More common than malfunction issues Overdrive reported on recently are basic unfamiliarity with the devices and the way they work from both driver and law enforcement perspectives.

Joe DeLorenzoJoe DeLorenzo

Whether drivers believe it or not,  DeLorenzo said, any roadside inspection is like as not “equally stressful for both sides of the equation,” both driver and inspector.

The “more the driver knows” about the specifics of the device he/she is using, he added, “the better off that inspection will go.”

A chief element of information needed by an inspector at this point is whether the trucker is utilizing an Automatic Onboard Recording Device or an actual ELD functioning under the new spec. With the former, grandfathered for two years under the terms of the rule and available for use through December of 2019, log information transfer options to the roadside officer occur fundamentally differently. Depending on which device you’re utilizing, roadside may take different steps toward checking the information and interacting with the trucker.

“Some newer devices can operate in either AOBRD or ELD mode,” further complicating matters, DeLorenzo also emphasized. “Making sure your drivers know what they have [or what mode they’re using] is one of the most important things you can do to make sure the inspection goes well.”

In addition to availability of the ELD users’ manual, keep handy an electronic or paper copy of the data-transfer instruction sheet, particularly if using devices under the ELD spec. “If a driver can locate that,” DeLorenzo said, the inspection is likely to proceed more quickly.

Yet earlier in the week during an inspection of Kissimee, Fla.-based owner-operator Dario Alfonso’s 2007 Freightliner Columbia at the Giles County scale in Tennessee northbound on I-65, Tennessee Highway Patrol Sergeant David Mills didn’t bother with data transfer at all. The reason? In this particular case a quick scan through the operator’s KeepTruckin ELD app on his smartphone showed clearly that Alfonso had come off of a 34-hour restart three hours before arriving at the scale.

Sergeant Mills flipping through owner-op Alfonso’s ELD.Sergeant Mills flipping through owner-op Alfonso’s ELD.

At the same time, though, Sergeant Mills’ experience of the FMCSA’s new data-transfer protocol from ELD-spec devices has been less than perfect, to say the least. ELDs he’s tried it with only yield a successful transfer about “40 percent of the time,” he said, if drivers know how to do it in their particular device to begin with, reflecting DeLorenzo’s points about knowing as much as possible about the device.

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FMCSA recognizes such issues, DeLorenzo said, and law enforcement continues to hold the option to check logs on the physical device itself, to request direct email or other method of direct transfer.

On edits, DeLorenzo emphasized the importance of notes/annotations to the log, particularly when takingadvantage of particular situations/exceptions. “On any edit, make sure you or your driver is doing annotations,” he said. “What you’re trying to do is help explain what happened to someone who has no idea. Sometimes we see” annotations like “‘Hey, my system was down here so we went to paper,’ or ‘I was working in the shop so I went to on-duty.'”

When you do a data transfer to a roadside officer, the annotations go with it. They can see the graph grid and any annotations that you make.

DeLorenzo also detailed recent changes to guidance around the agricultural exemption to the hours of service rule and new personal conveyance guidance as well, both taken in light of the ELD mandate and more rigid enforcement of the hours limits it represented. A lively discussion of situations where personal conveyance may or may not be kosher wrapped up the session. Video of the full session, live-streamed to Overdrive‘s Facebook page by our social media coordinator Holley Young, is available below. (GATS attendees can attend a live session around these subjects tomorrow morning Friday, Aug. 24, at 10:30 a.m. on the Trucker’s Armor stage in Hall D at the Dallas convention center.)

Find further reporting on the guidance changes at bottom.

FMCSA is holding an ELD discussion at GATS.

Posted by Overdrive Magazine on Thursday, August 23, 2018

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