Adjusting to ELDs Takes Time for Some Drivers

Semi Trucks in Parking Lot

The final compliance deadline for mandated electronic logging devices in the U.S. took effect on Dec. 17, 2019, and many drivers are still getting used to how to provide inspectors with the right information. The top violations that have occurred so far include false logs, failing to have the driver malfunction card or the user manual, said Kerri Wirachowsky, director of roadside inspection programs for the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

“You’re still in that window where you’re stopping drivers, and this may be the first time they’ve been asked to transfer files,” Wirachowsky said. “They still don’t really know how to find their instruction manual, especially if they’re electronic and somewhere on the devices.”

Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) have brought new processes for drivers, and Wirachowsky said it can take time for drivers to adjust their habits. “Drivers can forget to log in or log out,” she said. “If they forgot to log out, they get unidentified driving. You can fix that, but then it all has to be done manually.”

Wirachowsky said carriers could prevent a lot of headaches by reminding drivers of how to use the devices and to log in and out. “I don’t know if drivers are doing it intentionally, but some are using that personal conveyance in ways other than how they should be using it. There is guidance on FMCSA’s website when it is allowed,” she said.

Before the December deadline, drivers could rely on automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs). “The difference between pre and post is there is no longer the question of, ‘Do I have an AOBRD or an ELD? Now it doesn’t matter, and I want you to transfer your files,” Wirachowsky said.

Some drivers are still using an AOBRD and aren’t able to transfer files. “If you can’t transfer a file to an inspector’s E-Rod system and the device isn’t acting as an ELD, that is a problem,” Wirachowsky said. “I would expect that six months from now, you may see those types of violations are higher than they were last year.”

For those carriers and drivers that have successfully switched to ELDs, there are benefits beyond hours-of-service compliance. “Given the functionality on ELDs, they’re finding many more advantages to it,” Wirachowsky said.

One benefit is the ability to send logs to compliance auditors. “The compliance auditor may never come to the door of that business,” Wirachowsky said. “There is no more, ‘Oh no. Here comes the officer. Do we have the paper logs?’”

Data from ELDs can also be useful to drive conversations with shippers about dwell times, safety conversations with drivers and data for insurance, Wirachowsky said. “I was happy to hear that it is an advantage for companies to use that data that comes from the ELD outside of hours of service,” she said.

March 2020