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February 20, 2020 1:00 PM, EST

Officials: Progress Continues on ELD Enforcement, Proposed HOS Changes

PMTC’s Mike Millian (from left), FMCSA’s Joe DeLorenzo, CVSA’s Kerri Wirachowsky and Omnitracs’ Mike Ahart provide an update on ELD and hours-of-service regulations. (Seth Clevenger/Transport Topics)

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LAS VEGAS — Enforcement of the federal electronic logging device mandate is progressing, and regulators are working to finalize a proposal to add flexibility to driver hours-of-service rules, government and industry officials said.

ELD enforcement data indicates that law enforcement officers are becoming more comfortable with the technology and the data transfer process, said Joe DeLorenzo, acting associate administrator for enforcement at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

He made the comments during a Feb. 17 panel discussion at trucking technology supplier Omnitracs’ Outlook 2020 user conference.

The ELD mandate, which took full effect in December, requires most longhaul truck drivers to record their HOS information with ELDs rather than paper logbooks.

ELD inspection during Road Check event

ELD inspection during Road Check event. (TT File Photo)

Violations for exceeding daily and weekly HOS limits have dropped to about half of what they were prior to ELD implementation, DeLorenzo said.

He also cited an “interesting curve” in violations for driver log falsification.

“We had a large dip in violations for falsification,” he said. “But as officers got comfortable with it, that level of violations per inspection for false records is higher than it’s ever been before, which means now law enforcement has figured out what the tricks are, and how easy it is to find the falsifications.”

DeLorenzo said that learning process should continue over the course of the year.

“We need this next six or 12 months to really solidify that learning, get everybody used to it, and the more we can get data transfer done, that’s better for everybody,” he said.

Driver knowledge plays a very important role in making ELD inspections go smoothly, added Kerri Wirachowsky, director of the roadside inspection program at the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

“Ensure your drivers are trained on how to use the device,” she said.

As trucking companies and law enforcement in the United States continue to adapt to the ELD rule, Canada is preparing to implement its own ELD mandate in June 2021.

Unlike the United States, which has relied on ELD vendors to self-certify their own devices, Canada is requiring all ELDs to be independently certified by third parties, said Mike Millian, president of the Private Motor Truck Council of Canada.

But those third-party certifications have not yet begun. Millian predicted that this June will be the earliest the industry will see a certified device on the market for Canada.

In another departure from the U.S. approach to ELDs, Canada’s regulation will not include a grandfather provision for older e-log systems known as automatic onboard recording devices, or AOBRDs.

Host Seth Clevenger went to CES 2020 in Las Vegas and met with Rich Mohr of Ryder Fleet Management Solutions and Stephan Olsen of the Paccar Innovation Center to discuss how high-tech the industry has become. Listen to a snippet above, and to hear the full episode, go to RoadSigns.TTNews.com.

Over the past two years, the now-expired grandfather period for AOBRDs in the United States was a source of confusion at roadside because drivers often did not know if their e-log devices were AOBRDs or ELDs, Wirachowsky said.

“That driver thinks it’s an ELD whether it is or not,” she said.

Meanwhile, FMCSA continues to review public comments on its proposal to add flexibility to the HOS regulation.

Completing that rule is one of the agency’s top priorities, DeLorenzo said. However, any changes to HOS are a complex matter, he said, likening the process to threading a needle.

“The goal here with this rule, we said from the very beginning, has been to provide some flexibility in those rules, and use that flexibility to improve safety,” he said. “I think we’re well on our way to doing that.”

DeLorenzo also acknowledged that motor carriers operate in a different environment today than they did in 2003 when the 14-hour rule was established.

“An awful lot has changed in the industry since 2003,” he said. “Just-in-time delivery wasn’t a thing. Amazon wasn’t a thing. Traffic certainly was not what it is now. Infrastructure was not what it is now.”

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