[From Florence J. Murray at https://murrayandmurray.legalexaminer.com/]
Dec. 16, 2019 is the final compliance deadline for the federal electronic logging device (ELD) mandate affecting the trucking industry. ELDs, or electronic logging devices, log commercial truckers’ hours for when they’re on-duty and driving, on-duty but not driving and resting. The final version of the ELD mandate was published in 2015, with an initial compliance deadline of December 2017.
The ELD mandate was put into place by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to force truckers to follow public safety hours-of-service (HOS) regulations that dictate how much time they can spend behind the wheel. Before ELDs were used, most truckers used paper logs, which made it easy for them to falsify records (such as having two separate log books and driving back hauls for a different entity), and violate HOS regulations. A 2014 study completed by the FMCSA revealed that trucking carriers who had ELDs installed before the mandate had a 50% reduction in hours-of-service violations and a 12% reduction in crash rates compared to carriers without them.
Motor carriers that previously required its drivers to use automatic on-boarding recording devices (AOBRDs) were given an additional two years to comply with the ELD mandate, which extended the final deadline to December 2019. In general, AOBRDs are more basic versions of ELDs that have looser technical specifications. Fleets using AOBRDs are now required to swap them out for regulation-compliant ELDs.
Starting on Dec. 16, trucking fleets must have regulation-compliant ELDs or risk their drivers being put out-of-service if they don’t. Any driver using an outdated AOBRD or ELD that is not fully compliant will be placed out-of-service for a minimum of 10 hours. Drivers and fleets can face violation fines from $1,000-$10,000 or higher if a vehicle that was placed out-of-service for noncompliance is dispatched again before a proper ELD is installed. In 2018, the North American Transportation Association reported an average ELD fine of $2,867 and a highest recorded fine of $13,680.
Failure to comply with the ELD mandate has additional consequences beyond a one-time fine. Since April, 1, 2018, ELD violations have impacted carrier’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) scores, which are used by the FMCSA to identify high-risk fleets and drivers. Having a poor CSA score causes the FMCSA to pay increased attention to fleets, which “increases [driver’s] chances of roadside inspections, hampers [their] ability to get the best-paying loads and explore good business opportunities” and can lead to higher annual insurance premiums. Each violation adds anywhere from 1-10 points to a CSA score; the 22 ELD-related violations carry severity weights ranging from 1-7.
Overall, the message is clear: trucking fleets can no longer threaten public safety by failing to comply with the ELD mandate without risking serious consequences.
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