During the COVID-19 pandemic, drivers are being asked more frequently by inspection officers to do an electronic transfer of logbook data — rather than a local transfer. The data flows to the US Department of Transportation’s web-based eRODS system to flag possible violations.
Speaking at Trimble’s recent in.sight virtual conference, Director Joe DeLorenzo, associate administrator for safety & oversight at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, explained how the eRODS system “doesn’t automatically say” a driver is in violation but leaves the final decision up to the officer or auditor. Some of the most common flags are from use of the “adverse driving” condition and unidentified driving time.
Other common flags are for drivers exceeding eight hours of on-duty time without taking a required 30-minute break or by entering or editing logbook events, he noted.
For roadside inspections to go smoothly, DeLorenzo advised fleets to “make sure drivers know how to do a data transfer” in order to prevent situations where officers become frustrated and issue citations.
“At least have an instruction sheet” for drivers to do a data transfer, he stressed. Roadside officers in most cases will request drivers to do a web services transfer. This function is included in many ELDs and is the “fastest, most reliable method to speed through an inspection and get your driver moving again,” he said.
Compliance audits of fleets also have changed during the pandemic. More investigators are asking for a transfer of logbook data. In May the agency began to allow offsite audits to determine carriers' safety ratings — Satisfactory, Conditional or Unsatisfactory.
According to data from the agency’s Motor Carrier Management Information System, the FMCSA and its state enforcement partners completed 3,582 offsite compliance reviews through the end of July 2020, nearly triple the number of offsite audits conducted in 2019.
During an audit, fleets can upload electronic logbooks and other records to a web application. Inspectors will then talk to drivers and company officials about specific areas of concern.
New Hours of Service Rules on Tap for ELD
On Sept. 29, 2020, at exactly 12:01 a.m., the FMCSA’s new hours-of-service final rule became effective and has impacted motor carriers and drivers in four areas: a short-haul exemption; adverse driving conditions; a more flexible 30-minute break; and a more flexible sleeper berth option.
This change gives the HOS rules more consistency and greater flexibility, he said. The current ruleset does not require drivers to create a record of duty status (RODS) if they run routes that start and finish at the same location; do not exceed a 100-mile radius; and complete their workday within 12 hours.
The new rule extends the radius to 150 miles and the workday to 14 hours. Property carriers must still give drivers at least 10 hours off between shifts and have a system to record a driver’s start and stop times, total time spent on duty, and keep a running total of the hours worked in the past seven days.
The current rule allows drivers to extend their 11 hours of drive time up to 14 hours if they are stuck in an adverse condition. The new rule adds two more hours of on-duty availability to the 14-hour clock, which gives drivers added flexibility.
DeLorenzo emphasized that drivers can use this condition only when something happens that could not have been anticipated. Rush-hour traffic doesn’t count, but a traffic accident or snowstorm does.
“A lot of the decision is put in the hands of drivers,” he said.
The current rule requires property carriers to take a 30-minute break after 8 hours on duty. The new rule only requires a break within the first eight hours of drive time.
Under the current rule, breaks had to be recorded as off duty or sleeper berth. With the new rule, drivers can use any non-driving duty status — or a combination thereof — for 30 minutes. For example, a driver could stop and fuel for 15 minutes, record it as on duty, not driving, and then take another break for 15 minutes off duty.
Sleeper berth provision
This is the “most significant and most complicated” of the rule changes, he said. Drivers will be able to split the required 10 hours off each duty cycle as long as one of the periods is at least 2 hours long and one is at least 7, and they total 10 hours.
Neither break period counts against the 14-hour on duty clock. The shorter period does not have to be a sleeper berth, but the longer break does for a period of at least 7 hours.
At any time, drivers can still take a 10-hour break and restart their on-duty and driving clocks. In summary the changes “allow additional flexibility, help driver’s productivity and help improve safety all at the same time,” he said.
How Trimble’s ELD Platform Can Help Ensure Your Compliance
From maintaining accurate Hours of Service records and transferring this data to navigating changing regulations, there is a lot to consider when it comes to ELDs. Fortunately, Trimble is here to help your fleet.
Contact us today to learn more about our proven Trimble Driver ELD solution and how we can help streamline the safety and compliance of your fleet.