In December 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) amended its regulations in a way that will completely transform how records of duty status (RODS) will be recorded for commercial truckers.
The new FMCSA amendment is called the ‘Electronic Logging Devices and Hours of Service Supporting Documents Rule,’ and also is known as the ELD Mandate. The amendment will eventually require all truckers and trucking companies to record their hours of service (HOS) electronically rather than on paper.
ELDs are electronic devices that track HOS and electronically record a truck driver’s record of duty status. This mandate is designed to improve safety, cut down on paperwork for motor carriers and truck drivers, and also boost compliance with HOS rules.
Under the new rule, all motor carriers must install and mandate that each of its drivers use an ELD to record driver duty status by Dec. 18. 2017. There is a ‘grandfather’ provision that lets motor carriers that use Automatic On Board Recording Devices to continue to use those devices until Dec. 16, 2019.
Approved Technology Only
The switch to ELDs is happening now, but motor carriers may not just use any ELD they like. They only may use devices that are registered on the FMCSA website. Each ELD manufacturer must register the device with the FMCSA. This will certify that the ELD meets the agency’s technical requirements.
Note: The ELD must be registered and certified with the FMCSA, but this does not mean it is certified by the agency. The agency’s registration process allows companies to self certify that the ELD meets FMCSA technical requirements.
Obligations of Carriers
Motor carriers must create and manage ELD accounts for each driver, and assign unique ELD usernames to each driver. Account information for each driver must be accurate.
The carrier also must have an ELD information packet on each truck. This contains a user manual, instructions for reporting malfunctions, a record keeping protocol in case of any malfunction.
Motor carriers also must repair any problem with an ELD within eight days.
Obligations of Drivers
Under the new FMCSA rule, truckers must keep accurate electronic records, and must review ELD records and certify accuracy before turning them in. Any ELD malfunction must be reported within 24 hours.
Overall, the ELD Mandate is quite expansive. In addition to the above, the mandate has sections on records access rules, production requirements on inspection, diagnostic event protocols, and more.
The new FMCSA mandate is going to cause a major sea change in the trucking field. And that is all for the good: A study done by the FMCSA found that trucks outfitted with ELDs have a nearly 12% lower rate of crashes than trucks without them. The study further found that these rigs had a 5.1% lower rate of preventable crashes.
As truck accident attorneys in Virginia, we strongly support this transition to electronic-based reporting. We have seen far too many lives cut short due to fatigued and overworked truck drivers. We work on many truck crash cases each year, and in an accident investigation, we must verify the trucker’s HOS log to make sure the trucker was not over driving.
In the past, there always were questions about the legitimacy of paper-based logs. In some cases, we would need to match the log up with credit card receipts and cell phone records to determine if the truck driver had exceeded the federal mandated hours of service.
This new system should put an end to many of the shenanigans that can transpire when drivers are writing down their hours of service. And if truck drivers and companies are forced to stick to the HOS rules more often, it certainly should save lives.