In message pushing ELD mandate victories, FMCSA boss addresses tampering concerns

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Since the federal electronic logging device mandate took effect in late 2017, there’s been a 52% reduction in hours of service violations, said Jim Mullen, acting administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the Truckload Carriers Association near Orlando, Florida, and in an exclusive interview with Overdrive and Truckers News, Mullen said roadside inspections have found less than 1% of carriers are non-compliant with the mandate.

During a question and answer session, an attendee asked if the agency is addressing certain ELDs models that allow illegal tampering by drivers.

“We’re aware of some instances of fraudulent uses of ELDs,” Mullen said, and the agency investigates them. “We have a process by which we can de-certify ELD vendors.” He said he’d heard of one vendor that even used as a “marketing hook” the ability to manipulate the system.

On other initiatives, Mullen said:

DRUG DATABASE. The agency’s new Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse has reached 680,000 registrants since it went live Jan. 6. “Nearly 9,000 drivers who tested positive or refused a test have now been entered into the database” and cannot legally drive until they complete a return to duty program, he said.

YOUNGER DRIVERS. Almost 40 carriers have agreed to participate in a pilot program to test safety performance of 18-20-year-old drivers experienced with driving trucks in the military, but more drivers are need to reach the goal of 200 drivers. FMCSA is also gathering comments on an expanded pilot program that would include drivers without military experience.

DATAQ ACCIDENT REVIEWS. During a Q&A session, an attendee said the process of filing a DataQ accident review, by which FMCSA can clear drivers and carriers when it can be determined that an accident was non-preventable, is “cumbersome, too long – when can you fix it?” Mullen said over 90% of the reviewed cases were deemed non-preventable, “so the program’s working.” Nevertheless, Mullen said the process is cumbersome and the agency is working to improve it.

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HOURS OF SERVICE RULE. A final rule on hours of service was sent to the Office of Management and Budget for review March 2. Mullen declined to speculate on potential changes OMB might make, such as regarding the proposal’s broadened 14-hour rule flexibility, before it releases the final rule. One major component to come from OMB will be determination of the rule’s effective date, he said. OMB is supposed to turn around submitted rules in 90 days, Mullen said, but it has the liberty to take longer.