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Additional ELD Rule Clarity Gleaned From Recent Customer Questions

As the AOBRD grandfather period of the ELD rule winds down, carriers nationwide are migrating or preparing to migrate from AOBRDs to ELDs. By December 17, 2019, all drivers required to maintain a record of duty status (RODS) to comply with hours of service (HOS) rules will be required to use a compliant ELD.

As more customers move forward with migration, Trimble has been working with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to answer questions and ease customer’s compliance-related concerns. Recently, Trimble received some important guidance from FMCSA on three questions raised by customers, and this article makes this guidance available to Trimble’s broader customer base and the industry at large.


  1. When does a driver need to switch to paper logs during an ELD malfunction?

In June 2019, FMCSA published its newest ELD Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document which included a new FAQ (below) about when a driver must move to paper RODS.


When should a driver use paper logs or electronic logging software if an ELD malfunction occurs?

A driver should only use paper logs, or electronic logging software, or other electronic means to record their HOS if the ELD malfunction hinders the accurate recording of the driver’s hours-of-service data (i.e., 10/11, 14/15, 60/70 hours; or 30 minute).


Follow-up conversations with FMCSA revealed the motivation behind this newest FAQ. In issuing this guidance, FMCSA is advising the industry that drivers should not switch to paper RODS unless it is absolutely necessary. This is because ELDs are superior to paper RODS in detecting HOS fraud.

Unfortunately, very strict ELD design standards have created scenarios when the malfunction indicator on the ELD may illuminate (and remain illuminated), but the device is still accurately recording HOS. Moving forward, when the malfunction indicator light comes on, drivers and carriers should evaluate whether the ELD is still accurately recording HOS and, if so, continue using the ELD rather than switching to paper. FMCSA also advised Trimble that CVSA and the roadside inspection community is aware of this guidance and is operating under this same understanding.


  1.   How should very short unassigned driving events that occur in a yard be assigned by a carrier?  

Some carriers that have migrated to ELDs are spending considerable administrative resources accounting for unassigned driving time created during short movements within a yard. These moves are not considered driving time and are often conducted by yard hostelers or fleet maintenance professionals. However, because the ELD is detecting movement, an unassigned driving time record is created which needs to be reconciled.

Some enterprising carriers have sought to reduce this burden by creating policies under which they assign moves within defined parameters (e.g., 0 miles and less than three minutes within a geofenced yard) as an exempt yard move. Trimble recently discussed one of these operational policies with FMCSA, and agency staff agreed that it is in the spirit of compliance especially given the de minimus nature of the yard movements, and the fact that the ELD rules do not define how unassigned driving events must be assigned by a carrier. In such cases, Trimble recommends that carriers write clear operational policies that can demonstrate to an inspector how the carrier assigns these types of very short unassigned driving events within carrier-defined yards.

In the event of a compliance investigation/review, federal or state safety investigators will look carefully at unassigned driving time reports to determine whether HOS fraud is occurring. Carriers will need to ensure their policy is strictly adhered to and that all unassigned driving time occurring on a public highway is properly accounted for/assigned.


  1.   Our company uses the last four digits of a driver’s social security number in his/her AOBRD account username.  When we migrate to ELDs, may we continue to use a portion of a driver’s SSN when we assign ELD account usernames?   

Yes, a portion of a driver’s SSN may be used as part of a driver’s ELD account username. The ELD rules [in 49 CFR 395.22(c)(2)] only prohibit the use of a driver’s complete SSN, and not a portion of it, in the username. Trimble representatives confirmed this understanding with FMCSA in June 2019.

Have additional questions related to the ELD mandate? Check our ELD Resource page to stay up to date on everything related to the mandate

The post Additional ELD Rule Clarity Gleaned From Recent Customer Questions appeared first on Transportation Solutions | Trimble.