STC has observed a disturbing trend. Despite promises reduced hours-of-service violations following the implementation of electronic logging devices (ELDs), drivers are learning how to gain back the “flexibility” of paper logs.
Prior to the initial implementation of ELDs, the percentage of driver roadside inspections with at least one HOS violation was 1.19%. After ELDs were implemented, that number bottomed out at 0.27% in April of 2020 but has gradually increased ever since then. This May, it stood at 0.84%, which is essentially the same as February of 2018. Violations found during audits have increased too. In 2017 false record of duty status accounted for 9.1% of all critical violations cited during compliance reviews and was the 4th most cited violation. In 2021, those numbers have increased to 12.5% and number two, respectively.
What this indicates to STC is that drivers are starting to figure out ELDs, and enforcement is getting better at understanding how to identify and document violations. This is a dangerous combination! When carriers are performing HOS oversight, and auditing functions, too many are only relying on “violation reports” from the ELD system. Carriers need to dig deeper—because enforcement certainly will. In STC’s experience, there are two critical items to investigate while auditing logs: driver use/misuse of personal conveyance; and unidentified driving time. It is important that carriers avoid relying only on the violation report and have thorough auditing procedures.
Another way to ensure drivers are avoiding these false log violations is to provide training on the ELD to make the roadside inspection process easier. The more problems enforcement officials uncover, the more they’re likely to dig further. In STC’s conversations with enforcement personnel, several issues are being discovered roadside including: drivers not being able to find or produce electronic information sheets, manuals, or blank logs; drivers not knowing how to transfer log files from the ELD; and drivers misusing personal conveyance for things like extending their day, deadheading, or driving the truck for repair. Also, drivers need to make good annotations on edits or personal conveyance to avoid additional suspicion. The take away is proper and through training will deliver a smoother roadside inspection which may result in less violations.