By Dave Osiecki, President of Scopelitis Transportation Consulting LLC, and ELD Consultant to PeopleNet
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s out-of- service (OOS) criteria advises State and Canadian Provincial roadside inspectors to place a driver OOS for 10 consecutive hours at the inspection location if that driver is found to be operating without an ELD, when one is required. This CVSA OOS provision, and several others related to ELD use, went into effect on April 1, 2018. In this scenario, after a driver completes the 10-hour off-duty OOS period, the driver is allowed to complete the trip on which he/she is currently dispatched. Both CVSA and FMCSA have made clear, however, that the carrier may not legally dispatch this driver again until the truck being operated is equipped with a compliant ELD. This raises an interesting question: what happens if this same driver is discovered during a subsequent roadside inspection (in the same State or in a different State/Province) to again be operating without an ELD? This question about ‘repeat ELD offenders’ was the subject of an interesting discussion/debate at CVSA’s recent Spring 2018 conference and workshop in Portland, OR.
Currently, there is no additional OOS provision for repeat ELD offenders, and some believe there should be. At the Portland conference, representatives from two states pushed for an amendment to the OOS criteria that would require repeat ELD offenders to remain at the inspection location until a compliant ELD is installed in the truck. These State representatives argued that, without this type of additional OOS provision, repeat offenders could continue to be dispatched and, if inspected, they would simply serve the mandatory 10-hour OOS period, and continue to operate until they were inspected again. In effect, these State officials argued that the only way to change the non-compliant ELD behavior of repeat offenders (drivers and carriers) is to force the on-site installation of an ELD.
Some in the meeting supported the idea as a means to change behavior and get more immediate ELD compliance. Few in the meeting spoke directly against the idea, but rather raised questions about the practicality of having ELDs installed on-site, the likely challenges the driver would face if an installation could not be completed in a reasonable amount of time (e.g., within 24 hours), and whether repeat offenders are better addressed during compliance audits.
Some also questioned whether this might be a theoretical concern that wouldn’t play out in reality. An FMCSA representative reacted to the proposal by stating that the Agency is planning to regularly generate internal reports to determine whether there are repeat ELD offenders. If discovered, the carriers would be placed at or near the top of FMCSA’s on-site compliance review list. This FMCSA official also encouraged State and Provincial officials to communicate directly with FMCSA officials when repeat ELD offenders are discovered during roadside inspections, which will also help FMCSA prioritize ELD non-compliant carriers for on-site interventions, potential civil penalties, and perhaps even criminal investigations.
Following the lively and interesting discussion, the Chairman of the committee (where the proposal was raised) tabled the proposal. In tabling it, he requested that the FMCSA representative bring data to the next CVSA meeting in September 2018 reflecting (1) the number of repeat ELD offenders identified by FMCSA, and (2) the number of carriers prioritized for compliance audits based on the data. The FMCSA official agreed to do so. This data will likely drive another discussion of the proposal in September, and could result in change in the ELD portion of the OOS criteria. If FMCSA’s internal monitoring and reports find that repeat ELD offenders are a significant problem, CVSA action before September is possible.
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