The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate, implemented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), was met with resistance from many trucking companies and drivers.
The mandate was meant to replace paper logs with electronic records of duty status (ERODS) to increase road safety by accurately tracking hours of service (HOS). The FMCSA promised that the ELDs would make the roads safer for all drivers by reducing driver fatigue and ensuring HOS compliance. However, some trucking companies and drivers have continued to falsify ELD reports, leading to potential safety concerns.
However, for many, it is not as much intentional, as it is a lack of understanding of the procedures to change the ERODS once a mistake has been made, say with “personal conveyance.”
“Personal conveyance is the movement of a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) for personal use while off-duty. A driver may record time operating a CMV for personal conveyance as off-duty only when the driver is relieved from work and all responsibility for performing work by the motor carrier.” — The DOT FMCSA.
To preclude the use of personal conveyance to falsify the HOS for a driver after they have used all the driving hours for the day, the ELD will only allow a driver to retroactively change their ERODS to personal conveyance with the aid of fleet management. This can result in a HOS compliance infraction if not done immediately.
Hours of Service (HOS) & ELD Compliance
The ELD mandate, introduced in 2017, was expected to improve road safety and reduce driver fatigue. The mandate required commercial drivers to install and use ELDs to log their hours of service (HOS). The FMCSA promised that ELDs would make it easier for drivers to comply with HOS regulations, ultimately making the roads safer for all drivers. However, many trucking companies and drivers have questioned the effectiveness of the ELDs in reducing driver fatigue and increasing safety.
The statistics seem to agree with that assessment.
“Instead, truck-involved crashes resulting in injuries and fatalities have steadily gone up. Fatal crashes involving a large truck, per 100 million miles traveled by truck, increased by 5.4% from 2016 to 2020, according to the federal data.” — Truckinginfo.com.
“Surprisingly, the number of accidents for the most-affected carriers — those operators for whom the federal mandate was intended — did not decrease. In fact, following the implementation of the mandate, accidents among small carriers and independent owner-operators increased, relative to large asset-based carriers.” — Andrew Balthrop, research associate at Sam M. Walton College of Business.
“For most carriers — that is, all categories other than the carriers with more than 50,000 trucks — the number of accidents actually increased after the federal mandate took effect. Again, this was especially true for independent owner-operators. They experienced an 11.6% increase in accidents, and carriers with two to 20 trucks had a 9% increase.” — University of Arkansas.
Some drivers and unethical companies have struggled with the strict HOS regulations that ELDs enforce. This has led them to falsify their ELD reports to avoid penalties or to meet tight delivery schedules.
Brandon Wiseman, the President of Trucksafe Consulting, implied that many of these “ELD violations” were due to “a driver’s misunderstanding of the hours-of-service rules — especially misuse of personal conveyance status.” We see the same thing in many CA cases.
The DOT FMCSA contends that one of the top five ELD violations is a “false report of driver‘s record of duty status.” However, they fail to break that down into substantiated (deliberately falsified logs) or a driver’s misunderstanding of HOS rules and their application.
A better understanding of the personal conveyance rules would help many drivers avoid these allegations of misconduct. See our blog, Trucker's Personal Conveyance: Navigating the Rules and Charter Bus & Truck Drivers Hours of Service (HOS) Violation of the DOT FMCSA Regulation in LA.
Falsifying ELD reports can lead to HOS violations and fines. They can also increase the risk of accidents due to driver fatigue. Commercial drivers who have received an unsafe driving ticket, speeding ticket, or citation for a logbook violation, should seek the advice of a traffic attorney to help defend against state and DOT FMCSA penalties.
Likewise, some drivers resort to speeding to get in their driving hours before the ELD says it’s time to stop for the day. Many fleet managers put unattainable deadlines on drivers without regard to traffic conditions or time spent waiting for a load of cargo.
Falsified ELD Reports of Electronic Record of Duty Status (ERODS)
Despite the promises made by the FMCSA, some trucking companies and drivers have continued to falsify ELD reports. Falsifying ELD reports not only puts the driver and other drivers on the road at risk but also undermines the purpose of the ELD mandate. The FMCSA has taken steps to combat the falsification of ELD reports by implementing strict enforcement measures and penalties for violations.
However, these unethical drivers and trucking companies are typically the minority. Some drivers forget to change the ERODS when another driver takes their vehicle to maintenance, for fuel, or awaiting a load of cargo. Since the ELD starts the “clock” when the engine is started, the driver must change the ERODS on the ELD.
Trucking companies must train drivers about the proper use of ELDs, and the importance of manually changing the ERODS. These machines are only as dependable as the operator. They must know to reach out to fleet HQs to retroactively change a duty status to off-duty and personal conveyance if they forgot to do so when going to dinner from the hotel.
Many drivers must be reminded that their ERODS must be changed to personal conveyance when they use the truck to go to a restaurant or pick up some groceries when off duty. If not, it will look like they drove after running out of driving hours.
Another “bone of contention” is the DOT FMCSA decertification of ELDs. Some fleets spend tens of thousands of dollars on fitting their vehicles with compliant ELDs, only to have the FMCSA decertify it, which causes the fleet to re-fit their vehicles.
Traffic attorneys can help commercial drivers and trucking companies understand the legal requirements of the ELD mandate and assist in defending against any tickets or citations related to ELD and HOS compliance violations.
Always consult a CA traffic attorney before paying the fine or accepting a violation that gets forwarded to DOT FMCSA and included in their Pre-employment Screening Program (PSP) file.
In Truckee, CA, If Cited for a Decertified ELD or “Falsified ELD,” Consult Bigger & Harman Immediately
Falsifying an ERODS or using a decertified ELD can be expensive to the trucking company and the driver. Don’t go it alone. Consult Bigger & Harman in the Truckee, CA area.
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The DMV Portal CA Commercial Driver Handbook.
The Truckinginfo.com article, Revisiting the Electronic Logging Device Mandate (Commentary).
The University of Arkansas article, Trucking Accidents Up After Electronic Logging Device Mandate, Study Finds.