Human Interaction is Key for Successful ELDs

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Everyone can agree that Hours of Service (HOS) management is a critical aspect of all safety sensitive operations, as fatigue has proven to be a top cause of all accidents involving a Commercial Motor Vehicle. Your truck’s Electronic Logging Device (ELD) is the best tool available to capture HOS data and measure against the HOS minimums set forth by the FMCSA in a standardized format. These devices are relied on heavily in our industry to act as the de facto hours of service clock, referred to in audits, roadside inspections, and litigations. The HOS rules are specific in writing and expected to be followed, resulting in ELD manufacturers building and implementing logic and timetables into a recordable and presentable electronic device that your organization and law enforcement can access on demand.

There are many reasons why utilizing an ELD is critical for business operations and meeting minimum regulations established by the DOT and FMCSA. But what if the ELD is not painting an actual picture of compliance or risk and instead is providing a false sense of security for your fleet? Are you depending on your ELD to manage your HOS, or are you an active participant in the process?

Successful fleet managers still need to engage with and get to know their drivers on a personal level. Is there something going on in their lives that is affecting or limiting their rest periods and creating fatigue situations? Examples may include a second job, sick family members at home, marital issues, etc. Sometimes life gets in the way and drivers should feel comfortable telling their managers they are too stressed or fatigued to drive without potential severe consequences. Managers also need to review routes for compliance and reasonableness. If the route is too long, the driver is setup to fail from the beginning.

The intentions of ELDs were to make it easier and faster to accurately track, manage, and share HOS data, as well as create a safer working environment. While there is no doubt tracking HOS data is much easier than it was with paper logs, the data still needs to be analyzed and managed by a safety professional.

According to the ‘Compliance, Safety, Accountability’ (CSA) enforcement program, HOS violations in 2022 accounted for 3 of the top 10 violations with out-of-service (OOS) orders, including #2-no logs when required and #3-false logs. The top HOS violations include exceeding the 11 or 14-hour limits, not taking 10 hours off, and false logs. These statistics reveal that management is relying too heavily on ELDs and should start manually reviewing logs daily and hold their drivers accountable for following HOS rules.

The question as to whether ELDs have improved safety as originally anticipated is hard to quantify due to factors such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which resulted in several HOS exceptions, as well as the HOS changes made in 2020. However, if you look at the most recent data (October of 2022) published by the FMCSA regarding crashes involving fatality or injury, it proves that ELDs are not as effective on their own. Accident rates for “accident by 100 million miles” have actually increased since the mandate went into effect in 2017. An increase of 10% by 2019 from 2016, the year before the ELD mandate was enforced, proves that relying strictly on ELD data is not an effective HOS management tool for your company or the public safety.

Considering the cost of implementing these devices, one would expect to have an ROI that can be pointed to, specific to reduction in accidents/injuries/fatalities while also minimizing the workload on a motor carrier. That has unfortunately proven to be the opposite of reality; whereas increases in accidents, risk and significant lawsuits have proliferated as indicated in the average size of verdicts since the ELD mandate went into effect. According to the American Transportation Research Institute’s (ATRI) “Impact of Nuclear Verdicts” study, fatigue and hours of service were the #2 and #3 reasons by cases with a 95% success rate in verdicts. In many of these cases, the driver’s hours of service were egregiously in violation with the motor carrier found to be responsible and/or negligent.

With all of the available data coming from your ELD, it can create the perception of negligence. How is your fleet managing the ELD output or reporting capabilities? What actions or trends are you as a motor carrier able to point to that ensures you’re not only employing safe hours of service practices but overall driver compliance and risk? How a motor carrier manages their ELD compliance, including reports, trends, and data output, is critical to going beyond the minimum requirements while not falling victim to complacent compliance. Are you equipped to manage all elements of HOS FMCSA compliance without assistance? If an audit is called tomorrow, how confident are you that you’d receive a satisfactory rating? Would your feeling of confidence increase knowing you had a partner in compliance that has the experience and tools needed to provide support?

Fleetworthy Solutions has the tools to ingest information from your ELD, identifying trends, actionable data, and able to provide recommendations to improve your overall standing within the HOS Basic. A single source of truth, providing visibility 24/7/365 into your fleet and drivers is crucial to creating a safety net around your operations. With Fleetworthy’s CPSuite, you have a driver’s HOS record at your fingertips while also providing your team with the ability to manage other safety regulated and risk minimizing requirements such as DVIR/EVIR, maintenance records and driver qualification records. Layering on Fleetworthy’s 40 years of industry experience, you’ll have an experienced team of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) available to you for all aspects of your fleet compliance. Our team of experts are adept at interpreting the information coming from all data sources, compiling into a single dashboard that provides a C-Suite level layout while also providing the details required for effective day-to-day fleet management. Having these resources at your disposal allows you to focus on the right areas and free up time to maintain the personal interaction needed with one of your most valuable resources – your drivers. With Fleetworthy Solutions, you’ll go beyond the minimum standards of compliance. Reach out for a demo of our industry leading products and services and see for yourself what going ‘Beyond Compliant’ can do for your organization. Together, we can help minimize the number of daily accidents one driver at a time!

About Fleetworthy Solutions

Fleetworthy is the leading provider of cloud-based compliance, risk mitigation, and safety solutions for commercial fleets.  Over 1,500 commercial fleets, including some of America’s largest private fleets, for-hire carriers, and 3PLs rely on Fleetworthy to manage and identify risk, adhere to DOT, IFTA, IRP, and other regulations, and help ensure safe and compliant operations, covering a footprint of more than 210,000 drivers and over 260,000 assets.  With a 40-year-long successful track-record, deep commercial fleet experience, and a flexible delivery model that ranges from a cloud-based do-it-yourself software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform to fully outsourced, turnkey subscription-based tech-enabled managed services, Fleetworthy helps private fleets, for-hire carriers and third-party logistics companies of all sizes surpass compliance of federal, state, and local regulations and streamline processes to reduce costs, mitigate risks, and operate more safely and efficiently. 

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Source: Fleetworthy Solutions, July 21st 2023