ELD Enforcement Starts April 1. Are Your Drivers Prepared?

During the “soft enforcement” period since the ELD Mandate took effect on Dec. 18, drivers caught running without proper ELD equipment, documentation, or training have been written up, but neither they nor the companies they drive for have been penalized. No points were levied against either trucking firms or their drivers under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA)’s Compliance, Safety, and Accountability program. Nor were trucks being placed out of service for ELD violations.

That all changes beginning April 1.

CSA points will be levied against drivers and their companies, and trucks will be put into the penalty box — in most cases for 10 hours. That’s what Kerri Wirachowsky, director of the roadside inspection program at the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) told attendees at Omnitracs’ Outlook 2018 user conference in late February.

Thus, firms and drivers need to make sure during these last two weeks of March that they fully understand that the ELD Mandate enforcement regime goes beyond merely having an ELD device onboard.

Drivers must be able to provide device documentation

It’s important to make sure the drivers know whether they have an AOBRD (Automatic Onboard Recording Device) or an ELD. Drivers also need to have a cab card and enough log sheets to reproduce the eight days of Records of Duty Status (RODS), should the ELD or AOBRD device fail or an inspector asks to confirm the availability of backup paper logs.

In fact, as part of the ELD Mandate, drivers are required to carry not only a cab card identifying the kind of ELD or AOBRD device being used but also:

  • Be able to tell enforcement that there is an electronic user manual with thorough instructions for using the device on the device in the form of help screens
  • Instructions for producing recent data and transferring it to an inspector (electronically, via email a print out)
  • Instruction for reporting malfunctions and record-keeping procedures during malfunctions
  • At least eight days’ supply of blank forms for recording a driver’s hours of service in the event of a device failure

Of course, any of this data can be stored in digital form, but the point is that it must be onboard.

Drivers must be able to operate their devices

Just as important, drivers must be able to operate the ELD or AOBRD, and to be able to transfer data from their devices to an inspector. If they can’t, it’ll be treated as if they didn’t even have the proper equipment onboard.

“If your driver doesn’t know how to do it, things can go sideways pretty quick,” Wirachowsky said.

It’s also important that carriers using the grandfather clause (because they invested in AOBRDs) make sure they carry only AOBRD cards in their cabs. The same is true, in reverse, for trucks that are equipped with ELDs.

Additionally, the small percentage of trucks and commercial vehicles operating under various exemptions to the ELD Mandate — a group that still numbers in the tens of thousands of trucks — also need to carry proper documentation supporting their exemption claim. Roadside inspectors aren’t likely to simply take the driver’s word for it. Waivers used for documenting such exemptions can be downloaded from the FMCSA’s website.