The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) plans to publish its final rule on Electronic Logging Devices on Sept. 30, according to agency officials. FMCSA says the rule will go into effect 24 months from Sept. 30.
According to the agency, the ELD rule will establish the following:
• Minimum performance and design standards for hours-of-service (HOS) electronic logging devices (ELDs)
• Requirements for the mandatory use of these devices by drivers currently required to prepare HOS records of duty status (RODS)
• Requirements concerning HOS supporting documents
The rule will also address concerns about driver harassment resulting from the use of the ELDs.
A 2014 study by FMCSA explored the issue of ELDs and harassment of drivers.
As part of the study, drivers were given a list of 14 specific interactions between carriers and drivers that could be considered harassment. Fewer than 30 percent of surveyed drivers considered any one of these interactions to be harassment; 42 percent said that none of the items on the entire list would be considered harassment. The actions most commonly considered harassment included: interrupting a driver’s off-duty time with a message at an inappropriate time (28 percent); asking the driver to operate when the driver judged himself to be fatigued (28 percent); asking the driver to log hours inaccurately to get more work time or to delay a break (26 percent).
Very few drivers who use ELDs associate any perceived harassment with the HOS-logging capabilities of the device, according to the study. Two percent of drivers experienced an interaction that they considered to be harassment and that they associated with the HOS-logging capabilities of the ELD.
The study also examined whether drivers who use ELDs have different experiences than those who use paper. Drivers were asked to review the list of 14 specific interactions and to determine whether they experienced those interactions in a typical month. Across the 14 interactions, compared at the thresholds of both at least once per month and at least twice per month (28 comparisons), four differences were statistically significant. When compared to paper-logging drivers, drivers who use ELDs to log their HOS were more likely to (1) Be paid for customer delays when picking up or delivering freight at least once per month (63 percent versus 53 percent); (2) Be required to wait between loads for more than two hours without pay at least once per month (41 percent versus 30 percent); (3) Be interrupted when off-duty at an inappropriate time at least once per month (37 percent versus 23 percent); and (4) Experience management asking customers to adjust load schedules so they were more realistic for the driver at least twice per month (32 percent versus 24 percent).
FMCSA concluded the following:
• Few truck drivers feel as if they are harassed, regardless of the method used to log their HOS. The incidence of harassment may be too rare to be detected in a research project.
• Generally, research observations do not suggest that harassment is greater for drivers who use ELDs to log HOS than it is for drivers who use paper.
• Survey research does not support the conclusion that harassment occurs due to being in a situation where HOS are logged using ELDs.
The research project by FMCSA came in response to a 2011 ruling by the Seventh Circuit. On April 5, 2010, FMCSA published a final rule that amended the FMCSRs to incorporate new performance standards for ELDs installed in CMVs manufactured on or after June 4, 2012. The new rule also called for mandatory installation of ELDs (meeting the new performance standards) in CMVs operated by motor carriers found to have serious HOS noncompliance issues. On August 26, 2011, the Seventh Circuit vacated the entire April 2010 rule. The court held that, contrary to a statutory requirement, the agency failed to address the issue of driver harassment.
FMCSA’s 2014 research project addressed the issue of driver harassment and found that few drivers experienced harassment based on ELDs.
FMCSA Acting Administrator T.F. Scott Darling III said his agency plans to require CMV drivers to use ELDs in part to prevent drivers from lying about their hours of service. Such a move would reduce fatigued driving and improve safety, the agency claims. Darling said the devices could prevent about 1,400 crashes, 20 fatalities and more than 400 injuries every year.
“It will help with understanding hours of service,” he said. “We have made it a priority in my agency.”