ELD Implications: What Is Unassigned Driving Time?

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April 26, 2019

With the deadline to make the switch from AOBRD to ELD on December 16, 2019, fast approaching, many fleet owners are searching for ways to cut costs and boost productivity all while they transition their fleets to ELD compliance and avoid compliance penalties in 2020.

The results of the ELD mandate have been overwhelmingly positive for the trucking industry in terms of safety, and the change from paper logs to ELDs has already helped to make positive progress toward eliminating human error across the industry—as hours of service (HOS) violations have dropped significantly. But with many drivers on the road, various customers to notify and detailed electronic driver logs to keep, managing every moving part of a fleet leaves ample opportunity for problems to develop when small issues add up.

One of the most common problems trucking businesses are facing as an indirect result of the ELD rule is unassigned driving time. We’re taking a closer look at this industry-wide issue ahead of the ELD mandate deadline to help our audience understand their current options to avoid problems now and in the future.

What is unassigned driving time?

Essentially, an unassigned driving event occurs anytime a commercial motor vehicle equipped with an AOBRD or ELD is moved prior to a driver being logged in as operator. These events most commonly occur when a vehicle is moved a short distance for maintenance, fuel or another short trip; however, according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, this time must be attributed to a driver. Once the ELD mandate is in full effect, carriers will be obligated to choose either assigning the time to an appropriate driver or attaching a comment explaining as to why a driver was not assigned to the vehicle.

How does unassigned driving time happen?

Unassigned driving time due to something as simple as a driver forgetting to log into the system or not having immediate access to a logging device within the cab of their truck can result in large problems for fleet owners. In many cases, drivers are trying to save time between jobs and they fail to log on-duty time while at a site. Unfortunately for business owners, when unassigned drive time locations and unidentified driver events start to pile up, so does the potential for costly fines that could otherwise be avoided. Simply put, ignoring an unidentified driving event is not an option.

How can unassigned driving time be avoided?

Fleet owners who take responsibility to set up thorough training for logging into ELDs before operating any vehicles have the best success of avoiding unassigned driver events. Mandatory training sessions for drivers on a regular basis ahead of the ELD mandate taking full effect will be worth the slowdown to any day-to-day schedules in order to reduce the likelihood of an event involving one of their drivers. Additionally, checking ELD records on a daily basis with the use of a fleet tracking solution is the most effective way for fleet managers to avoid unassigned driver time from adding up and hurting their business.

What are the consequences with the DOT and FMCSA?

In the event a driver pulls into a roadside inspection by either the Department of Transportation (DOT) or highway patrol, if a vehicle’s log shows a large amount of unassigned driving time - an indication that the driver is trying to defraud their HOS - the associated fleet might be forced to provide driving time records for up to six months, resulting in the chance for hefty fines and associated issues.

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With a drop in 8-hour, 11-hour and 14-hour rule violations, we’re seeing that electronic onboard recording device technology is doing precisely what it was intended to do—replace human subjectivity and reduce the chance for human error. However, the impact of fewer HOS violations citations has freed up inspectors to be able to more closely scrutinize other devices, vehicle and carrier violations and ELD data overall. This means it’s now more important than ever for fleet managers and drivers to take proactive action ahead of an uptick in ELD-specific violations for non-compliance.

Why bundle ELD and fleet tracking?

In today’s data-driven environment, being compliant is not enough. It’s also important to have a solution that can add to and not take away from a fleet’s efficiency. One way to do this is by bundling an ELD and fleet tracking solution for added benefits and improved efficiencies. With a bundled ELD system, hours-of-service (HOS) warning messages ensure unassigned events must be displayed to the driver at the point of login. Additionally, customer support services greatly decrease the stress on your administrators in the event of an unassigned driving event.

There are major differences between an automatic onboard recording device (AOBRD) and an ELD, especially as they relate to general functionality and device display. Making an investment in a solution that will increase business efficiency, reduce operational challenges and control costs versus checking a box in order to remain in compliance might be in the best interest of your business.

Is bundling right for my fleet?

Many businesses, like Midwest-based trucking company R&M Trucking, stay compliant and productive practicing safety measures that go above and beyond what is required for a company in their industry. For any company still trying to decide on a provider to comply with the ELD mandate, R&M Trucking’s Safety and Compliance Director Mike Narvaez says the time to act is now.

“It’s here. You have to comply and you have to follow the law. The sooner you get on board, the better you’ll be. It’s a process, not a light switch. A company that waits to the last minute to be compliant, won’t be. That’s the bottom line.”

Ahead of the ELD mandate going into effect, reserving time to address driver confusion and allowing for a slower, more controlled roll out might protect your business from scrambling and alleviate back office anxiety ahead of major problems.

Learn more about how solutions from Verizon Connect can help your business stay compliant while boosting fleet efficiency and controlling costs.

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