COLUMBUS, Ohio — The law enforcement officers participating in the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s North American Inspectors Championship will not be asked to inspect electronic logging devices during this year’s competition.
The competition, in which contenders complete a written test and various vehicle inspections, commenced Aug. 15 and will end Aug. 18 in conjunction with the National Truck Driving Championships awards banquet. The 52 competing inspectors represent the United States, Mexico and Canada.
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Kerri Wirachowsky, director of CVSA’s roadside inspection program, announced at a training session Aug. 16 that ELDs would not be included in this year’s inspection practical because the devices still are in their implementation stage in the United States and have not been implemented yet in Canada. Inspectors also will be spared from questions on personal conveyance and agriculture haulers during the competition.
Who: Winners from nine categories at the state level have advanced to the national competition, where a grand champion will be crowned
What: Contestants are judged on a written examination and their driving skills
When: Aug. 15-18
Where: Columbus, Ohio
Wirachowsky’s announcement was met with cheering from the inspectors, who were seated at circular tables with their team members. The inspectors are divided into six teams, which are identified by color and arranged to represent a miscellany of regions and nationalities.
“We want to make sure everything’s fair,” Wirachowsky said. “We don’t quite know how to implement them into the competition yet. We want to make sure that you walk out of here on the same page.”
The training session held Aug. 16 covered ELDs and hours-of-service rules. HOS laws dictate when and how long truck drivers can operate. The 14-hour driving window says drivers are allowed a period of 14 consecutive hours in which to drive up to 11 hours after being off-duty for 10 or more consecutive hours.
As part of the training, Wirachowsky showed the group a video of an inspector examining logging devices in various trucks at a rest area in Virginia. In the video, several of the inspected truckers did not know whether they had an ELD or an automatic onboard recording device. One said he had an ELD but actually had an AOBRD. One didn’t have the user manual for the device in his truck.
Wirachowsky discussed the different methods used to track HOS, ranging from paper records, electronic logging software, AOBRDs and ELDs. Electronic logging software, not to be confused with ELDs, is not integrated into the engine of a vehicle. Wirachowsky said electronic logging software would be like using a laptop to record HOS.
Rommel Garcia, an officer with the Houston Police Department, was named grand champion last year. (John Sommers II for Transport Topics)
“It is confusing out there,” Wirachowsky said, citing the more than 300 versions of devices available to truckers. “Drivers are confused about what they have, which then causes confusion for the both of you.”
Joe DeLorenzo, director of FMCSA’s Office of Compliance and Enforcement, said web services are preferable to e-mail when it comes to transmitting HOS information from trucks. DeLorenzo, who fielded inspectors’ questions for more than an hour alongside Wirachowsky and NAIC’s Keith Kerns, said the average time for a web services transfer is less than a minute, while an e-mail transfer takes between seven and eight minutes. Some 35% of truck drivers still use e-mail transfers, which he described as a high number.
“It’ll make it much faster and make it easier,” DeLorenzo said.
The training session on ELDs and HOS rules is one of several that inspectors are participating in throughout the competition. Other sessions cover autonomous technologies, hazardous materials, motorcoaches and documenting a violation. The inspection practical begins Aug. 17.
The two-hour ELD training session culminated with a timed quiz on the devices and HOS rules. The inspectors immediately bowed their heads over their materials, poring over questions and murmuring to their teammates.
“I think it’s always good to get the enforcement people together. This is all about making sure that everybody’s working together and we’re enforcing the rules as uniformly as we can,” DeLorenzo said. “It makes it easier for enforcement. It makes it easier for the carriers.”