The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported that the number of carrier safety investigations turning up ELD violations has doubled since the COVID pandemic began.
According to FMCSA’s head of enforcement, Joe DeLorenzo, false log violations have been trending up since they began enforcing the ELD mandate in April 2018.
“It’s a lot harder to cheat on your ELD,” DeLorenzo said. “We’ve seen a slow and steady increase in identifying false log records.”
The percentage of safety investigations that led to an ELD violation was around 6 and 8% in 2018 and 2019. Starting in March 2020 though, more ELD violations were reported, climbing between 12 and 14% between September and December 2020.
During the FMCSA’s 20th annual Analysis, Research, and Technology Forum this March, DeLorenzo said he believed the numbers went up because companies embraced data transfer during the pandemic. Instead of relying on print-outs and other hard-copies, companies had to rely on data transfers to get the information out for offsite audits.
“It makes it easier and more helpful and faster for investigators to review ELD compliance and HOS compliance,” DeLorenzo said.
While the total of Hours of Service violations dropped a little after the September 29, 2020 change-over to the new HOS rules compared to the previous four months, it wasn’t by as much as the agency was hoping.
From June through September 2020, there were 11,227 HOS violations, before the new regulations took effect. From October 2020 through January 2021, there were 9,989 violations – mostly because of a dip in 30-minute break violations. Those break violations fell from 3,597 to 1,712 in that timeframe.
The FMCSA relaxed its 30-minute break regulations to now require it within a driver’s first eight hours of drive-time instead of the first eight on-duty hours.
There were some small increases in other types of HOS violations since the new regulations took effect. DeLorenzo said that these violations might not have dropped yet because fleet managers and drivers are still learning the new HOS rules.
However, the total number of roadside inspections nosedived during the pandemic, most notably during March, April, and May – the worst months of the economic downturn. The number of truck inspections fell by 22%. 294,235 inspections were conducted in 2020 compared to 375,419 in 2019.
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