Is Your Fleet Prepared for ELD Roadside Inspections?

While on the road, commercial drivers need to be aware of what to expect when being pulled over for roadside inspections by enforcement officials.

You already know that compliance with the FMCSA’s HOS rules is crucial for both your fleet and your business. Ever since the industry entered into the full compliance phase of the ELD mandate in December 2019, the authorities have made enforcement of Electronic Logging Devices (ELD), HOS (Hours of Service) and RODS (Record of Duty Status) requirements a major priority. This makes understanding the details of what the authorities are looking for as they crack down on compliance essential.

What is the ELD Mandate?

The Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA) implemented the ELD mandate mainly as a measure to ensure safety and fair labor practices in the trucking industry. The rule initially went into effect in February of 2016, giving fleets plenty of time to make the transition. The rule required RODS to be recorded using telematics software specifically designed to be accessed by law enforcement during roadside inspections. 

In order for your ELD device to be considered fully compliant with ELD mandate guidelines, it must have:

  • Telematics or Local Transfer – must have the ability to electronically transfer data to an authorized safety official via wireless web services or be able to electronically transfer data on demand via USB 2.0 and Bluetooth®.
  • Automatic Recording – must record Date, Time, Location Information, Engine Hours, Vehicle Miles, and Identification for the Driver, Authenticated User, Vehicle, and Motor Carrier automatically.
  • Automated Entry – must record each change of duty status every 60-minutes during CMV operation. It must also record status at the beginning and end of personal/yard move use and at engine-on and engine-off events.
  • Duty Status Graph – must display or printed presentation of a graph grid of a driver’s daily duty status changes.
  • Annotations and Edits – must record original records that cannot be revised and any edited versions of these must be supported by the ELD.
  • Detection – must be able to monitor engine connectivity, timing, and other important diagnostics.

The ELD mandate also allows for the use of authorized Automatic On-Board Recording Devices. The grandfather clause allows for certain AOBRDs to be used, permitted that they have the ability to do all of the above. AOBRDs are actually less regulated than ELDs, but it is important to check on the compliance of your devices before they are used on the road. Use the FMCSA’s Registered ELDs list to verify your device’s compliance. To learn more, review The FMCSA’s HOS Regulations: A Quick Refresher Course.

How to Handle Roadside Inspections

While on the road, commercial drivers need to be aware of what to expect when being pulled over by enforcement officials. The most important thing for commercial drivers to know is what kind of device they have in the vehicle. Informing the officer from the beginning of which type of device is on board, whether it’s an ELD or compliant AOBRD, is important to the entire process of inspection. Working with your drivers to be cognizant of what to expect during roadside inspections can help minimize the time spent roadside with officials.To avoid being in violation at the time of a roadside inspection drivers should:

  • Ensure the ELD device is connected by connecting the CMV power unit to the device.
  • Follow device instructions when editing or adding information. Citations may be issued for edits that have no supporting documentation or explanation.
  • Ensure that logs for the previous 7 days are certified.
  • Drivers operating under special circumstances must note them if they affect driving hours and duty status.
  • Ensure the ELD device is being used properly at all times.

ELD compliance means that drivers have the required devices on-board and they are able to provide the data upon request to authorized safety officials. Drivers should be compliant and cooperative with officials in order to ensure that inspections go smoothly. A violation may be issued if a driver refuses to present supporting documentation when requested. If anything in the HOS cannot be verified, they may be placed out of service. 

When pulled over for roadside inspections, drivers should be prepared with the following:

  • ELD Visibility. During an inspection, drivers should make sure that they have the ELD or AOBRD in a place where it is easily accessible and visible from outside of the vehicle. A violation may be issued if the officer cannot see the screen without entering the vehicle. The device also must be mounted to a fixed position and visible to the driver. 
  • Documentation. Drivers must also carry required documentation during every route on the road. The ELD user manual, including instructions on how to complete the data transfer must be presented to the officer. There must also be instructions on handling device malfunctions. Drivers must also know if their device is self-certified and/or on the ELD registry. Drivers must also carry blank RODS graphs. A citation may be issued if any of these documents are missing. 
  • ELD Compliant Usage. Drivers must fully understand how to use the ELD to avoid any delays or violations. Citations are issued for drivers who are not following the basic requirements of using ELDs.
  • Technology. Understanding the responsibilities that come with ELDs before the start of a trip is critical. Citations for technical malfunctions can be easily avoided. At the beginning of a route, drivers should ensure that the device is functioning properly. Citations will be issued if the driver cannot properly transfer RODS. Unless drivers can prove that there is a real-time technical issue, they may be cited for non-compliance. 

The Cost of Non-Compliance

The ELD mandate requires full compliance from commercial drivers who are required to complete RODS. Violations of the mandate can cost your company money and make your drivers more likely to be stopped on the roadside for inspections. Fines for ELD violations could range from $1,000 to $10,000. According to the North American Transportation Association (NATA), failure to comply with the ELD mandate can result in an average fine of $2,867. One of the highest recorded fines for violation of the mandate is $13,680. During roadside inspections, drivers found to be in violation of the ELD mandate are subject to being placed out of service for up to 10 hours for each violation. Furthermore, violations can negatively impact the carrier’s CSA scores, which can cause all of the vehicles in your fleet to be flagged for increased inspections and reduce your ability to acquire the best paying loads.

The transition into the ELD mandate’s full compliance phase has caused a major shift in operations for many in the industry. Partnering with a fleet management technology provider that is able to provide a range of options for your business can ensure that you comply with confidence. Not sure what you need with regards to ELD? Take our free, online ELD Assessment or speak to one of our expert Fleet Advisors today.