In December 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a long-awaited rule mandating the use of electronic logging devices (ELD) to record hours-of-service (HOS) data, and the compliance date for the mandate comes later this year.
Since Ruan made the investment in and implemented PeopleNet ELDs in 2012, our experts have gained invaluable experience and knowledge in their use for compliance and identifying efficiencies. Our background with ELDs will make the December 2017 transition seamless for our customer partners.
“This is a regulation that is positive for our industry,” said Ruan’s Vice President of Safety Lisa Gonnerman. “It provides an even playing ground and helps ensure hours-of-service compliance—which ultimately enhances safety for all drivers.”
Ruan will continue to use PeopleNet ELDs to ensure compliance with the mandate, but PeopleNet is in the process of making some updates to comply with the technology specifications of the rule.
In December 2016, our safety compliance department welcomed PeopleNet developers to Ruan’s corporate office to show them how the technology is currently used and offer suggestions for improvement in the interface to enhance ease of use.
“We’re happy to have been able to provide feedback about the technology from a carrier perspective for them to implement when making updates,” Gonnerman said. “I don’t expect the changes to be significant, but we will be doing training with our professional drivers and terminal office teams to ensure data is entered and captured accurately once the changes are rolled out.”
While the majority of Ruan’s fleet uses PeopleNet ELDs, our dairy operations still use paper logs—these operations will need to upgrade to ELDs by the December 2017 compliance date. Ruan is in contract negotiations with a provider of a single hand-held device for these drivers that will not only serve as an ELD, but also function with RedTrak, Ruan’s proprietary dispatching system used in our dairy operations.
“Drivers and terminals staff in these dairy operations will be trained on the new hand-held devices well before the compliance deadline,” Gonnerman said.
The ELD mandate is one of the largest and most complex issues facing the trucking industry this year.
The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) released a list of the critical issues affecting the trucking industry according to a survey of industry stakeholders, carriers and commercial drivers—and the ELD mandate was number one on the list.
“New concerns surrounding privacy, the potential to inappropriately use the information tracked by ELDs and industry-wide productivity loss caused the issue to top the critical issues list, climbing from the number six position in 2015,” according to the ATRI report.
While the ELD rule provides both procedural and technical provisions to prevent harassment resulting from ELD-generated information, many drivers are still concerned. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) continues to battle the FMCSA in court about the ruling, citing issues with the cost of ELDs, preserving confidentiality and prohibiting coercion, according to Fleet Owner.
However, a separate FMCSA rulemaking from 2016 aimed to safeguard drivers from being coerced to violate HOS regulations, providing the FMCSA the authority to take enforcement actions not only against motor carriers, but also against shippers, receivers and transportation intermediaries. Essentially, the rule allows FMCSA to take enforcement action against anyone in the transportation chain who knowingly and recklessly jeopardizes the safety of the CMV driver and the motoring public.
According to FMCSA, coercion includes pressure to violate federal safety, hazardous materials or commercial regulations with implicit or explicit threats of job termination; denial of subsequent trips or loads; reduced pay; forfeiture of favorable work hours or transportation jobs; or other direct retaliations.
This coercion rule created procedures for commercial drivers to report to the FMCSA incidents of coercion, as well as implemented penalties that may be imposed on carriers that coerce drivers, according to the FMCSA. Penalties could include revocation of a carrier’s operating authority.
Ruan empowers drivers to be the Captain of the Ship. If they are too sick or too tired to drive safely, or if they have concerns about the safety of a vehicle, they are encouraged to contact their terminal staff with their concerns. Terminal staff are trained to work with drivers in these scenarios to ensure the safety of our professional drivers and the motoring public.
The FMCSA has tried several times to create an ELD mandate before one was finally published. The ruling outlines how data is transferred roadside, what supporting documents must be maintained, how long a unit can be broken down, what edits a driver can make on the log, and how time will be logged for yard moves and other events.
New HOS supporting document rules within the ELD mandate will help reduce paperwork needs, such as the retention of shipping documents, fuel purchase receipts, etc. In most cases, a motor carrier using ELDs will not be required to retain supporting documents verifying on-duty driving time, according to FMCSA. The mandate will impact approximately 3 million commercial drivers, and the FMCSA estimates it will result in an annual benefit of nearly $1 billion, largely by reducing paperwork. Roadside law enforcement personnel will also save time reviewing driver records during stops.
In addition, FMCSA expects the mandate to have safety benefits. Annually, the use of ELDs could save 26 lives and prevent 1,844 crashes, according to Fleet Owner, because it will be more difficult for drivers to drive past HOS limits.