ELD Rule Enforcement Begins April 1, 2018

You could be pulled off the road if you’re not compliant with the ELD rule

March 28, 2018Ashley Preston

The ELD rule's “soft enforcement” period has ended, and if you’re not exempt, or you’re not ready, your vehicle could be pulled out of service.

That’s because the ELD rule is being fully enforced as of April 1, 2018.

The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, which is made up of the officers who enforce trucking and bus regulations, started issuing citations to drivers for not having ELDs on December 18, 2017, when the rule officially went into effect. However, it informed the FMCSA that officers wouldn’t start pulling vehicles off the road until April 2018 to give carriers and drivers time to adjust to the new requirement.

Now though, officers will pull vehicles off the road. The FMCSA says truckers cited for not complying with the ELD mandate will be placed out of service for 10 hours. Once the 10-hour period is up, the FMCSA expects to be flexible about letting a driver get back on the road to make the delivery if they at least have a paper log.

The driver will have to be in compliance with the ELD rule before leaving for their next trip.

ELD violations can affect CSA scores now.

During the soft enforcement period, inspectors handed out 395.22(a) violations with no CSA points and made note on inspection reports if they found a driver who didn’t have an ELD but was using paper reports. Officials say around 30,000 of those violations were handed out since the mandate went into effect in December.

As it was each jurisdiction’s choice on how to handle the soft enforcement period, some drivers received a 395.8(a) or a 395.15 violation between December and April. Those violations will add CSA points, but can be contested through DataQs. The DataQs system forwards Request for Data Review (RDR) to a FMCSA officer to look over, giving you a chance to protect your SMS score.

As of April 1 though, you can expect to see an impact to your CSA scores if you’re not in compliance with the ELD rule. Violations will be written up under 395.8 and will add 5 points out of 10, plus two more points if the driver gets pulled off the road.

The ELD rule is complex, and there have been setbacks.

There has been some confusion surrounding the ELD rule roll-out. FMCSA officials have been meeting with drivers and carriers to try to clear up it up. However, given the number of polices and mandates still up in the air, some folks are having a tough time following all the changes and understanding how the rules impact them.

Officials know there are people who are unhappy with the ELD rule. There are also drivers and carriers who also think that the Hours of Service guidelines are actually the problem, and the ELD rule is just exposing it. FMCSA Officials say they want to hear from people and have a productive conversation about ways the rule can be improved or better implemented.

Changes are still being made to the ELD rule.

The FMCSA says it has been trying to respond to concerns as they arise. It has issued several ELD compliance extensions or guideline revisions, meaning the final ELD rule guidelines haven’t been issued yet.

For instance, the FMCSA just revised its guidelines to allow fleets that currently use AOBRDs (Automatic On-Board Recording Devices) to continue installing them in vehicles that are added to a fleet. Before the change, a carrier would have had to install ELDs into vehicles that expanded the fleet’s size, even if the rest of the fleet was still using AOBRDs. Drivers who are currently using AOBRDs still must comply with the ELD rule by December 16, 2019.

The FMCSA has also recently announced that it is giving agriculture industry haulers another 90-day waiver while they make sure the ELD rule is properly implemented and meets the industry’s unique needs. The FMCSA’s extensions expire on June 18, 2018.

However, the president just signed a $1.3 trillion spending bill that had a provision in it pushing that ELD deadline back even further for livestock transporters, giving them until October to comply. The spending bill also now allows certain dump trucks to operate with GVW ratings of up to 99,000 pounds in New Hampshire and up to 129,000 pounds in North Dakota.

The FMCSA says it will publish final guidelines on both the agricultural 150 air-mile HOS exemption and personal conveyance soon. The agency is also finalizing the minimum entry-level driver training requirements, as well as building a national database to track alcohol and drug use violations.

We have also created a comprehensive ELD Resource Center to answer your ELD questions. You can check it out here.

Drivers and inspectors are still learning how to use ELDs.

Vehicles aren’t just required to have ELDs installed under the mandate; drivers and administrators also must be trained on how to use them. Getting drivers to switch over from paper logs can be a challenge when the driver has been doing it for so long, but officials say it’s important for drivers to understand why the ELD rule is important, and how this will benefit them in the end.

Anyone using an ELD should know how to use it, including how to log in and out, how to make edits to logs, and what to do with unassigned driver logs. Officials say that it’s important for drivers to know how to use the ELDs during roadside inspections. That’s because inspectors are still learning how to use ELDs too. With more than 300 different type of ELDs currently registered through the FMCSA, there’s a lot to learn.

Don’t forget that drivers are also mandated to have certain information in the cab under the ELD rule. Drivers need to have:

  • Instructions on how to use the ELD.
  • Information about the ELD’s data transfer process and step-by-step instructions outlining how to send records to safety officials.
  • Information that explains how to report ELD malfunctions and properly keep alternative records until the problem is fixed.
  • Enough blank driver’s RODS graph grids to record duty status and other relevant information for at least 8 days.

Because the rule is changing, there could also be some enforcement discrepancies between different jurisdictions. Anyone who thinks they were improperly cited can challenge the violation using DataQs.

Not every ELD on the market is compliant.

ELD manufacturers are required to register their devices with the FMCSA, and there are currently about 330 different devices to choose from. However, the FMCSA doesn’t proactively verify which devices are compliant with the ELD mandate.

ELD manufacturers submit things like user manuals, product images, and transfer instructions to the FMCSA when registering their ELDs. ELD manufacturers are expected to test and certify their own ELDs, but whether or not they follow the FMCSA’s exact testing specifications is based on the honor system. Any ELD that’s found to be non-compliant with FMCSA standards is removed from the list of registered ELDs. So far, none have been delisted, but many ELD manufacturers are having problems.

Officials say this is why it’s so important to do your homework before selecting an ELD system. Besides making sure it’s compliant, companies should make sure they trust the ELD provider and are picking the best device with the right features to support their operation. Going with a trustworthy provider will save a company a lot of money in the long run; installing new ELDs and re-training drivers and staff on another system is expensive and time-consuming.

Officials do warn that no matter what solution you pick though, it’s going to take longer to implement than you think. Even after selecting the right provider, it’s going to take time for the equipment to arrive, be configured and installed. It will take time for drivers and administrators to fully learn how to use the system too, so plan accordingly.

There are still some exceptions to who needs to comply with the ELD rule.

Drivers who use the short-haul exceptions can keep using timecards and aren’t required to keep RODS or use ELDs. Drivers who aren’t required to use ELDs, but must still use an Automatic On-Board Recording Device (AOBRD) or electronic logging software if they:

  • Don’t file more than 8 days of paper RODS every 30 days.
  • Drive vehicles made before the year 2000.
  • Conduct drive-away-tow-away operations, where the vehicle being driven is the commodity, or a motor home or recreational trailer with at least one set of wheels on the road.

Everyone who is required to keep logs must be compliant by December 16, 2019.

Companies can install an ELD in any CMV (commercial motor vehicle), even if it's not required for that vehicle or operation. If a non-mandated ELD is installed, it can be configured to show inspectors the ELD exception right on the device. Notes can be added to logs too, mentioning the exemption. Carriers can also install ELDs in vehicles made before 2000 if they choose, but the ELD must comply with the ELD rule’s technical specifications.

If an ELD malfunctions, drivers can use paper logs for up to 8 days. FMCSA officials say that a driver can apply for an extension if the ELD isn’t functioning by then and will look at every situation on a case-by-case basis.

Bottom Line. Non-compliance will now have serious consequences.

FMCSA officials say they’re seeing a steady increase in ELD compliance rates, reporting that compliance is around 96%. About 4% of inspections have seen citations handed out to drivers who were mandated to have an ELD.

Now that the rule is being fully enforced, carriers and drivers not in compliance can expect deliveries to be held up and SMS scores to take a hit.

And don’t forget; everyone who currently keeps logs must comply with the ELD rule by December 16, 2019.

Don’t let this be an overwhelming process. We can help you make the transition and comply with the ELD mandate while also upgrading your fleet management system. Give us a call and we’ll get you started right away.

Ashley Preston
Ashley Preston is a Public Relations and Media Specialist who served as a journalist for nearly a decade. Now, as the Media and Communications Manager at Forward Thinking, Ashley focuses on putting together information that helps businesses better understand complicated industry issues, meet federal regulations, and optimize daily operations.

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