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Starting today, the “soft enforcement” period for the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate begins as roadside enforcement personnel throughout the U.S. start documenting violations of the rule, according to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Administration (CVSA)
“At a jurisdiction’s discretion, they may issue citations to commercial motor vehicle drivers operating vehicles without a compliant ELD,” noted CVSA Executive Director Collin Mooney in a statement.
“Enforcement personnel has been trained in anticipation of the ELD rule and now that it is in effect, inspectors will be verifying hours-of-service compliance by reviewing records of duty status requirements electronically,” he added. “And on April 1, 2018, inspectors will start placing commercial motor vehicle drivers out of service if their vehicle is not equipped with the required ELD.”
[More information regarding enforcement of the new rule is available at the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s ELD implementation website]
CVSA also pointed out that fleets and drivers may continue using “grandfathered” automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRD) that meet the requirements of 49 CFR 395.15 until Dec. 16, 2019, which is when they, too, must switch over the ELDs.
CarrierLists has been polling fleets for several months on ELD preparations ahead of the mandate. As of early December, about 75% fleets said they were ELD ready, up from around 50% in October.
Kevin Hill, the founder of CarrierLists, said it is no surprise to see the sharp increase ahead of the deadline, but the last-minute push will likely lead to initial confusion due to a lack of training and practice time.
Overall, ELD rates among regional haulers lagged other fleets, with tank and bulk carriers ranking the least compliant, according to the company’s data Reefer carriers were most compliant at about 90%, while dry van carriers were second with 75%.
ELDs will help “fix areas that have been in blind spots for a long time,” especially shippers not respecting truckers’ hours. He also expressed some skepticism drivers will be so quick to turn in their vehicles and turn to the construction sector with a strong freight market and rising rates.
Safety & Compliance
BIRMINGHAM, AL – Federal officials have taken another step to make the transition to mandatory electronic devices less painful.
If drivers are cited at the roadside for not complying with the ELD rule come the Dec. 18 deadline, the citation will be a “no points cite” that will not affect the Safety Measurement System that feeds into CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) scores – through April 1.
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration officials shared this news during the Southern Regional Road Show event Wednesday.
In late August, FMCSA and the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance announced a phased-in approach to the ELD mandate and said it would delay implementing out-of-service criteria related to ELDs until April 1, 2018, and that each jurisdiction would have discretion as to whether they actually issue citations in the beginning.
As it has become increasingly obvious that much of the trucking industry, as well as the enforcement community, are not fully ready for the Dec. 18 ELD mandate deadline, the agency apparently felt it needed to go further.
Jon Dierberger, FMCSA field administrator, told the room full of enforcement officials and a smattering of fleet and insurance representatives that for violations cited at roadside for not having an ELD through April 1, there will be no SMS points impact. He confirmed to HDT that this was in a recent internal memo.
Anne Collins, associate administrator, FMCSA field operations, confirmed to HDT that this was a recent “corollary” to the previous announcement that ELD citations would not result in out of service orders, in order to be “clear and consistent nationwide.”
Lane Kidd, managing director of The Alliance for Driver Safety & Security, pointed out in an email response to HDT that this doesn’t mean there won’t be repercussions for not having an ELD.
“Tickets may not levy points against the driver, but the fines attached to those tickets will likely cost the drivers more than the price of an ELD, so I’d hardly call this announcement a win for anybody holding out on buying an ELD.” The Trucking Alliance, as it’s known, is a proponent of ELDs and other truck safety technologies, such as collision mitigation and speed limiters.
Officials reiterated that there would be no extension of the ELD mandate deadline, noting that the rule has been out there for nearly two years now, and that it is “supported at the highest levels.”
However, as part of an ELD implementation panel discussion at the roadshow, Derek Barrs, Florida’s chief of commercial vehicle enforcement, asked for a show of hands among the state enforcement people in the room if they were ready for the ELD mandate. Not a single hand was raised.
Dierberger told the room that the eRODS software that enforcement officials will use to “read” the data from ELDs at roadside is still in final testing and is scheduled to be released by the end of November. The FMCSA has been conducting “train the trainer” programs, and those trainers are now in the process of training enforcement officials in their jurisdictions, along with a not-final version of the software.
Fleet comments as part of the discussion indicated problems with not being able to get ELDs – and the problem extends to the AOBRDs, or automatic onbaord recording devices, that would allow for grandfathering for an additional two years. Safety staff from one fleet said while it has AOBRDs installed in half of its fleet, it’s been trying for six months to get them installed in the remaining half; its provider says it has been “overwhelmed” with orders.
Barrs emphasized the importance of fleets making sure drivers are prepared for the roadside encounter with the enforcement official. Drivers need to know how to handle the data transfer, and if they need to show their logs on the device itself they need to be able to show the enforcement officer how to navigate through the ELD. They need to have the required instructions available, and be able to answer questions such as whether they have and AOBRD or ELD, or why they are exempt, such as in the case of trucks with older non-electronic engines.
“Our folks are going to be learning as well; that’s a cold hard fact,” Barrs said. “We have a learning curve just like your drivers are. It’s going to take a partnership between the roadside officer and the driver to push this forward at the end of the day.”
With the start of a new federal rule requiring digital tracking of the number of driving hours truckers log only weeks away, drivers critical of the regulation are launching sporadic protests and hoping for a last-minute congressional reprieve.
But most in the industry believe the mandate — which will force truckers to comply with a federal hours-of-service rule limiting driving to no more than 11 hours a day — will go into effect as planned Dec. 18.
HR 3282, a House bill to delay the deadline for two years by Republican Rep. Brian Babin of Texas, has been parked in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure since the day it was introduced in July.
Truckers support the bill, but they know its passage is unlikely before the December deadline. That’s left truckers suggesting that their only hope of halting the regulation is a nationwide strike.
“I drove a truck in the 1970s and remember some of the strikes back then,” Gary Graham, a 45-year trucking veteran from Lamar, Mo., told Trucks.com. “I feel like there is going to be another shutdown [prior to the December deadline] and it may not be so peaceful.”
In early October, Graham shut down his trucking operation for a week, painting signs opposing the ELD mandate on the side of his trailer. Graham, a flatbed trucker, said that cost him about $2,000 in earnings.
However, the history of trucker protests and the very nature of getting independent drivers to agree on a plan of action makes that a longshot.
Work stoppages aren’t an effective means to protest the impending ELD mandate because independent truckers lack the economic resources to shut down for long periods of time, said Steve Viscelli, a University of Pennsylvania sociologist and author of the book “The Big Rig: Trucking and the Decline of the American Dream.”
Drivers also are unlikely to work together to create a massive labor action.
“They don’t have the ability to stick together — and really change the capacity of the industry by voluntarily withholding their services,” he told Trucks.com. “They also don’t have an effective means to coordinate it.”
Their self-reliant nature works against presenting a unified front.
“Independent truckers who can’t get out of their own mindset and work together are their worst enemies,” Scott Jordan, the owner of a small trucking company in Peculiar, Mo., told Trucks.com.
Independent truckers also lack any meaningful market power, Viscelli said.
But while protests won’t likely have an economic impact on the trucking industry, they could have a symbolic impact, he said. “That’s the only way it could go down well for them.”
Previous nationwide strike attempts, including one in February 1983, resulted in violence as truckers protested legislation to increase federal fuel taxes and user fees. Independent truckers argued that they would not be able to pass on resulting higher fuel costs to their customers.
Independent truckers waged an 11-day strike in February 1974 over higher fuel prices, resulting in violence that left two truckers dead. A settlement reached with the federal government included a 6 percent freight rate surcharge to allow truckers to recoup increased fuel expenses.
“We always support lawful protests, especially those that facilitate further discussions with lawmakers,” said Norita Taylor, spokeswoman for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, a trade group with more than 150,000 members.
But others in the trucking industry, including the American Trucking Associations, support the regulation.
“ATA is firm in its belief that there will be no delay in the Dec. 18 deadline to implement electronic logging devices,” Sean McNally, spokesman for the trade group, told Trucks.com. “This rule has been upheld by FMCSA, by Congress and by the courts, and we see no reason for it to be delayed.”
Stephen Burks, professor of economics and management at the University of Minnesota, questioned the efficacy a national shutdown would have and whether there are enough drivers “willing to stop work to make a significant difference over a long enough period to have a large impact.”
“I suspect [it’s] not enough to have the kind of impact the truckers, who are upset, would like,” Burks, who supports the ELD mandate, told Trucks.com.
Drivers in interviews with Trucks.com said they don’t want to be digitally tracked.
“I don’t want a computer telling me when to drive and when to sleep,” Bahtiyor Sultan, an owner-operator from Plainfield, Ill., told Trucks.com.
Drivers believe the devices will limit driving time and cut their earnings. They say battling the 14-hour clock every day will force them to drive when tired. They are concerned about overcrowding at rest areas and truck stops and the difficulty of finding safe truck parking as they shut down each day.
“I may see how it goes,” Sultan said. “If I am forced to stop because the 14-hour clock tells me to when I am miles from home, I will stop trucking.” Sultan said such a scenario will cut into the time he has to spend at home.
After shutting down his one-truck operation for a week in early October to protest the mandate, Robert Rueden of Abbotsford, Wis., said he is “holding out hope” that it will be delayed.
“I don’t believe in the government tracking my every move,” Rueden told Trucks.com.
He’s also considering a workaround. Trucks with engines built before 2000 are exempt from the regulation, so he might buy an older engine for his rig.
For frustrated truckers, their only hope looks to be a last-minute appeal to the White House.
“I am hoping President Trump steps in and does something to stop it,” Graham said.
But he may be disappointed.
Raymond Martinez, Trump’s nominee for administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, said in recent Senate testimony that he would not delay implementation of the ELD regulation.
The electronic logging device, or ELD, mandate, set to go into effect Dec. 18, will focus attention on companies that habitually make drivers wait long hours to load or unload freight.
That’s because motor carriers that are ELD early adopters are becoming less tolerant and dropping shippers that slow down freight movement.
“It’s going to create a lot of friction between carriers and shippers,” said Kevin Hill, president and founder of CarrierLists, a carrier database provider conducting weekly ELD compliance polls.
Big trucking companies also are revving up so-called “shipper of choice” programs to prioritize working with preferred customers. Independent truckers, often owner-operators, also report sharing names of slowpoke shippers with dispatchers or freight brokers to avoid ever making a return visit.
Shippers already dealing with a freight hauling capacity crunch caused by rising demand and a driver shortage could avoid being dropped by reducing wait times. They could also avoid it by boosting detention pay, the fees that cover the time a trucker waits beyond the agreed-upon hours for the job.
“If you’re a shipper that doesn’t like paying detention and you’re a mess to load and unload, carriers will drop [you]. Those shippers could end up paying more or not being able to find carriers,” Hill said.
But higher detention fees won’t help drivers comply with existing hours-of-service restrictions the ELD mandate is meant to reinforce. Truckers must comply with a federal hours-of-service rule limiting driving to no more than 11 hours a day within a 14-hour workday. Drivers must then be off duty for 10 consecutive hours. Both carriers and truckers are concerned about long waits at loading docks extending driver hours beyond the federal work limits.
More Carriers Expected to Drop Bad Shippers
Long wait times have plagued the trucking business. In research conducted last year by industry data firm DAT Solutions, 63 percent of 257 carriers and owner-operators surveyed said they or their drivers spend more than three hours at a shipper’s dock waiting to load or unload.
The vast majority of carriers and owner-operators said that any time beyond a two-hour grace period for loading or unloading is generally considered detention time that carriers can collect fees for, according to the survey. However, that doesn’t always happen. Only 3 percent of carriers said they collected detention fees on at least 90 percent of their claims.
ELDs are putting renewed attention on wait times and other shipper behaviour. Circle Logistics Inc. started requiring the 80 owner-operators it works with to install ELDs earlier this year. Since then, the Fort Wayne, Ind.,-based third-party logistics provider has dropped an unspecified number of shippers that haven’t agreed to adopt practices that speed up freight handling.
“We had to step back and look at what shippers from a time perspective allowed us to be the most cost-effective,” said Andrew Smith, the company’s vice president of sales and operations. “Once we focused on putting drivers into shippers of choice, we found our operating revenue on a driver basis was up.”
Shippers that cooperate tend to be manufacturers running just-in-time assembly lines or companies with other production-critical freight needs. “Those time-critical shippers are going to find that the market is going to shift in their favour and the shippers that haven’t adapted will feel the capacity crunch the worst,” Smith said.
As part of its shipper of choice program, Circle created a dedicated division that assigns drivers to specific customers. Those customers are using drop trailers to speed up deliveries, and some have added parking spaces or bought lots for carriers to drop trailers.
“Shippers who are working to become shippers of choice will naturally get capacity that brokers and carriers have to offer,” Smith said.
Dropping bad shippers will become more common once the ELD mandate takes effect, said Ken Harper, director of marketing at DAT, the load board and freight-rate aggregator.
“There are many docks that have unconscionable ways they treat carriers, and that has to stop,” Harper said.
DAT plans to conduct a survey sometime after the Dec. 18 deadline to assess ELDs’ impact on shippers and shipping practices.
Close to half of carriers say they will comply with the mandate before the deadline or already have, according to a separate ELD study this year of 1,000 carriers with fleets of up to 250 trucks and owner-operators.
Once the new rule takes effect, it will be easier to track what happens on loading docks, Harper said. “The data will be out there to see how much carriers get held up, how much is it eating into their productivity.”
Waiting at the Dock of the Bay
A few efforts to track loading and unloading times are already underway.
ELD maker Keep Truckin recently posted a petition to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requesting to extend the maximum allowed hours of service from 14 to 16 if drivers are detained for more than two hours.
The survey, which collected more than 32,000 signatures in two days, cited data collected by the company from drivers who use its product. Of those surveyed, three-quarters said they are detained for more than two hours per week. Of those experiencing regular delays, 35 percent said they last more than six hours. And these so-called “extended detention events” occur on average seven times a month, according to the survey.
Long-time owner-operator Matt Criswell has extensive first-hand experience with loading-dock delays.
On a recent Tuesday, Criswell waited more than five hours to unload a shipment of 40-foot steel bars at Wilton Precision Steel Co., in Wilton, Iowa. He was third in line when he arrived early that morning and was still waiting in an inspection bay when Wilton’s loading dock supervisor left for a lunch break.
“It’s messed up my day,” Criswell said. “By the time I’m said and done, I’ll have enough hours to load my next load and then I’ll have to find a rest stop to take my 10-hour break.”
The day before, Wilton said he waited about six hours to pick up the load.
Wilton Steel did not respond to a request for comment.
Criswell, 48, has been an owner-operator for four years, primarily driving his 2007 Freightliner in regional lanes around the Midwest from Columbus, Ind. He currently drives for Circle Logistics, and when he installed an ELD in August at the firm’s request was among the last of the company’s owner-operator drivers to do so.
“An ELD doesn’t compensate for road construction or road closures or anything extra in life that could come up while you’re travelling,” he said.
Criswell previously used an ELD for three years when he was a company driver for Estes Express Lines, a national carrier based in Richmond, Va., with approximately 8,800 drivers. He often would be at shipper with only 10 or 15 minutes left until his hours of service for the day ran out and still needed to drive to the motel he’d booked for the night.
As a company driver there wasn’t as much he could do about such a situation beyond complaining to the dispatcher. As an owner-operator, he complains, but with better results.
“I voice my opinion and my agent will take it into consideration,” he said. “Nine times out of 10, I don’t return to places where I’ve requested not to go back to. That’s what I love about Circle, they’ll find another load for me.”
‘Keenly Aware’ of Mandate
Shippers are “keenly aware” of the ELD mandate, said Jay D. Strother, vice president of the International Warehouse Logistics Association, an industry trade group. However, Strother declined to comment on actions IWLA might be taking on behalf of members to address the issue.
In June 2016, the Department of Transportation’s Office of the Inspector General said it would audit FMCSA data on commercial motor vehicle loading and unloading delays. The audit was part of a national transportation infrastructure law passed in 2015 and called for determining the relationship between delays and improperly logged driving time, a potential factor in increased risk of crashes.
The audit is ongoing, according to Eric Weems, a DOT inspector general spokesman.
Opinions that ELDs will cause shippers to change their behaviour aren’t universal. Warehouse staff are under increased pressure to cut loading and unloading times to make shippers more attractive to carriers at a time of shrinking capacity and rising rates, said Tim Hindes, chief executive at Stay Metrics, a South Bend, Ind., trucking software company.
“Will it be addressed with more seriousness with shippers come December? I think it’s already been addressed, and it’s not a big pivot point, Hindes said.
Stay Metrics aggregates driver satisfaction data from surveys it conducts on behalf of 90 carrier customers that collectively manage 15,000 drivers. Three and a half years ago, exit-interview data began to show that drivers were quitting carriers that had implemented ELDs and were going to work for non-ELD carriers or leaving the industry, Hindes said.
But complaints about ELDs haven’t appeared in driver exit interviews for two years, which Hindes attributes to ELDs now being standard at “all the big guys.”
Freight rates increasing because of strong demand will whip shippers into shape more than ELDs, Hindes said.
Shippers can try to placate carriers by raising hourly detention rates to $12.50, for example, but that’s still nowhere near the equivalent of what drivers can make when their wheels are turning.
For that reason, Hindes said, “shippers are going to have to make themselves more attractive.”
Starting tomorrow — Sunday, Oct. 15 — police agencies across North America are going to be even more vigilant than usual about enforcing the rules of the road.
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance‘s annual Operation Safe Driver Week is Sunday through Saturday, Oct. 21. During that time police say they want to “help improve the behavior of all drivers operating in an unsafe manner – either in or around” a commercial motor vehicle.
As safe a driver as you are, it never hurts to have a reminder of how how to avoid being among the truckers ticketed during the enforcement blitz. Last year, 11,182 commercial drivers got warnings (6,078) or citations (5,104), according to the CVSA.
Based on what the CVSA effort is focused on, doing these things could improve your chances of not becoming one of those statistics for this year:
- Ease up on the accelerator. Almost 20 percent of the citations written last year were for speeding. (Still, that compares to almost 40 percent for passenger vehicles.) We know, every trip is a game of “Beat The Clock,” but, you know the radar guns will be out in force.
- Put down the phone. Yes, yes, yes. You’re already required to be hands free on the phone, but we all know plenty of drivers who are still texting or taking photos to post on Facebook. States are cracking down on phone use and other forms of distracted driving. While you have to stay in touch with home or with dispatch, just do it safely; when you’re stopped if possible.
- Buckle up. By now, this ought to be a no-brainer, but still we read accident stories of drivers being killed or seriously injured because they weren’t buckled in. And, if you have a passenger, it’s up to you to be sure they strap in as well.
- Remember the basics. Aside from traveling at an appropriate speed, be aware that this week cops are going to be especially vigilant about truckers who are tailgating, making improper lane changes, not obeying traffic signals, and other basics of highway safety. And, even before you get rolling, do a thorough pre-trip and be sure your truck is operating at its best and that your load is properly secured.
- Pay attention. Lots of us “zone out” on the job. Because we daydream, get bored, or almost nod off because we stayed up too late the night before, our attention slips. But, when you do it even for a brief moment, 80,000 lbs. of truck and cargo may drift off the interstate.
The top five warnings and citations issued to commercial motor vehicle drivers (as a percentage of total CMV warnings and citations) during last year’s enforcement week were:
- State and Local Moving Violations – 56.7 percent
- Speeding – 19.6 percent
- Failure to Obey Traffic Control Device – 7.6 percent
- Failing to Use Seatbelt – 7.1 percent
- Using a Handheld Phone – 2.4 percent
- 0.5 percent of CMV drivers were cited for inattentive or careless driving
- eight citations related to a CMV driver’s failure to stop at a railroad crossing were issued
- seven CMV drivers received citations for operating their vehicle while ill or fatigued
- five warnings and nine citations were issued to CMV drivers for reckless driving
We are looking for experienced Class A CDL- OTR drivers.
Hook and Drop!
Flexible driving schedule
OWNER OPERATORS WELCOMED
312-546-7557 ext 110
Freight transport nationally is being disrupted by Hurricane Harvey – and will be for a month or more – as the fierce storm leaves flooded and damaged roads, downed power lines and other wreckage in its wake.
The storm also could leave a rise in long-term trucking contract prices in its wake, according to a report by analysts at FTR Transportation Intelligence.
Hurricane Harvey made landfall this past weekend near Houston, and now is lingering as a wet tropical storm expected to dump as much as three feet of rain in some areas over the coming week. It could “strongly affect” more than 10 percent of all U.S. trucking this week and 7 percent next week, the FTR report said.
After a month, the storm’s impact on trucking will have lessened considerably nationally, but, but the damage it leaves still is projected to hamper operations at about a quarter of the trucking operations in the affected Gulf Coast region.
Indiana-based FTR has studied the impact of severe weather on trucking since Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc throughout the Gulf States in 2005.
In addition to delaying shipments and damaging equipment, impacts include “significant pricing effects” according to the report, which FTR classed as a preliminary assessment. These impacts included an average 7 percentage points hike in annualized pricing nationally for the five months following Katrina and a 22 percent year-over-year increase in spot pricing following the severe winter storms of 2014.
Spot pricing for trucking services, especially in Texas and the central southern states, could jump as much as 5 percentage points in the next several weeks, said Nöel Perry, a partner at FTR.
Because Texas is home to about 30 percent of U.S. oil refining capacity – much of it centered around Houston – production of diesel fuel and other petroleum products is expected to be especially hard hit, according to the FTR analysis.
“We are talking about impacts on fuel and energy,” said Larry Goss, an analyst for FTR.
Houston also is a major intermodal shipping site and the storm may have a persistent impact on rail shipments as well as on trucking, Gross said.
Severe weather impacts trucking in four principal ways, according to FTR:
- Idling trucks as they wait for water to recede from roads and loading docks;
- Prioritizing shipment of relief and emergency construction supplies over regular freight;
- Slowing overall operations due to congestion on roadways and in freight loading areas;
- Reducing productivity with out-of-cycle supply chain demands.
A longer-lasting impact of Harvey, said FTR’s Perry, could be increased long-term shipping contract rates.
The combination of regional and fuel effects from Harvey, coupled with the federal Electronic Logging Device mandate that takes effect in December, “could be the catalyst to a pricing spiral” for trucking contracts, he said.
While the storm has wreaked havoc with trucking, logistics, oil refining and other business across a wide path of the South, it might have created a selling opportunity for the recreational vehicle and temporary housing industry.
Following Hurricane Katrina, the Federal Emergency Management Agency spent $2.7 billion on roughly 145,000 trailers and mobile homes to those displaced by the storm.
“It is likely that FEMA will again purchase temporary housing for displaced residents and emergency personnel aiding in the relief efforts,” said analyst Michael Baudendistel of Stifel Financial Corp. But in a report to investors Monday, he said the number of displaced residents from Hurricane Harvey is probably smaller than Katrina and the need for temporary housing might be as low as 15,000 units.