Even fleets accustomed to running electronic logging devices should be prepared for a rude awakening Sunday when highway enforcement begins cracking down on ELD compliance, said Vigillo President Steve Bryan. The forecast is based on examination of three months’ worth of ELD citations issued in a soft-enforcement, temporary violation category, said Bryan, speaking to a panel at the annual meeting of the Truckload Carriers Association near Orlando, Florida. “This is not limited to the small owner-operators,” he said. “Everybody’s getting these violations written,” including large fleets that feel they’ve established highly compliant ELD operations. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance described its 395.22(a) code section as a “parking space” that has been used for ELD violations following the Dec. 18 start of the mandate, which have no effect on CSA scores, Bryan said. Starting April 1, those same violations will be written up under 395.8 and carry full CSA weight – 5 points out of ten, with an added 2 points if the driver is put out of service as a result.
From Dec. 18 through February, almost 27,000 395.22(a) violations were written, Bryan said. He cited a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration speaker at the TCA conference who put that number at 32,000, which included much of March. If this pattern continues after March 31, as violations get written under the 395.8 code sections, “That’s the fire hose I believe the data is showing is going to be turned on,” Bryan said. On the other hand, the subset of “form and manner” hours of service violations should decrease because the automated logging technology should be more accurate and up to date than drivers’ traditional paper logs, he said. Another concern fleets and truckers should have about ELDs is that many enforcement officers don’t fully understand the workings of the wide range of ELDs being used, said Anne-Marie Hulsey, director of business development for U.S. Legal Services. That will no doubt lead to many questionable violations, followed by a “jubilee” of challenges through the DataQs appeal process established under CSA.
“Educate your drivers how it works,” she said, so they can cooperate with law enforcement “in a kind, respectful way. It’s impossible for these guys to know how to work 300 devices.” A fleet should consider contesting violations only when it has all the facts and some evidence, such as dashcam recordings or GPS records, she said. Hulsey also suggested drivers can take time-stamped smartphone pictures of critical components, such as hoses, when doing pre-trip inspections, to show that they had done everything possible to monitor equipment condition. She also recommended having an attorney represent a driver in the DataQs appeal process. Bryan suggested the fleet executives, whether their company was an ELD early adopter or not, to “put an eagle eye on those inspection reports coming in” to see if there are good candidates for DataQ. “Watch those things like a hawk.”