ELD mandate: Avoiding citations with better training

Good news: There’s an easy way to do this.

 Installed the ELD across all trucks your fleet? Good. But you need to do more to be compliant with  FSMCA ELD mandate .

Installed the ELD across all trucks your fleet? Good. But you need to do more to be compliant with FSMCA ELD mandate.

If you’re part of US trucking industry, you’d be aware of the two inevitables. Both are a result of the electronic logging device (ELD) rule that came into effect in December 2017. Both come with equal portions of penalties. The only difference is: one is explicit, the other, implicit.

The explicit inevitable: Installing the ELD on all trucks in your fleet.

The implicit inevitable: Training your drivers on how to use them.

The rule came into effect in 2017 to reduce crash rates, improve fuel efficiency, and reduce paperwork for the 3.5 million truck drivers in the United States. It’s been over a month past April 1 deadline, and the enforcement agencies are going all out to make sure that your trucks stay compliant with the new norms.

But, guess what: Your ELD machine will not make you compliant if your drivers don’t know how to show their records to the enforcement officials.
You’re going to earn citations for reasons you probably didn’t think mattered much.

For instance, if the drivers are unable to log in to the device he or she will face a citation for having “no record of duty status.” When drivers are not able to produce data from an ELD or automatic onboard recording device, they will be cited for “no record of duty status.” If by mistake, they indicate a special driving category on their ELD when not involved in that activity, they will be cited for having false driving logs.

"If your driver doesn’t know how to do it, things can go sideways pretty quick,” said Kerri Wirachowsky, director of Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, at a recent conference.

You see? Equipping trucks with ELD is step 1 towards compliance. 

Step 2 would be to get them comfortable with the device interface, so they can be confident during roadside checks.

We know that ELD mandates are already hurting your productivity levels because they cap the number of driving hours at 11. Industry experts had pegged the loss of productivity due to ELD installations to anywhere between 3–5% in the initial days. If you’re a small carrier, expect a loss of anywhere between 6%-10%.

Financially too, it could become a burden on you: The fines for Hours of Service violation could range anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 for each offense. If they fail to keep a log, the fine can go to as high as $137,060.

If you want to ensure that your firm stays as compliant and profitable as it can be, train your drivers to use their respective ELDs

 The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that set the final ELD mandate date, requires that all drivers know how to:

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that set the final ELD mandate date, requires that all drivers know how to:

  1. Log in
  2. Respond to unassigned driving hours the ELD records
  3. Record duty status changes
  4. Edit records
  5. Add notes to records to explain any edits or additions
  6. Certify records — to indicate that they are complete and accurate
  7. Access RODS data from the ELD
  8. Review and understand the ELD printout/display information
  9. Transfer ELD data by email or Blue Tooth to inspectors or law enforcement
  10. Identify and correct or report data diagnostic issues
  11. Report ELD malfunction

Do your drivers know they have to be familiar with these functions?

Yes.

Do they know how to exactly perform these functions on ELD?

Probably not.

It gets even more complicated: Every ELD manufacturer has an interface and a user manual that’s different from the rest. And so the chances of a fellow truck driver helping out a peer in tricky times such as these is minuscule.

And hence, not training them on how to use the ELD is not an option. Neither is it an option to get them all in a classroom and walk them through it. If you ask them to refer to the training material on the website, well, that’s just like hoping for rain in the Sahara.

So, here’s an alternative that has worked wonders for the pressing problem of training large hordes of on-field staff. We’ve used this to identify knowledge gaps, act on the outcomes and make on-field staff more compliant. Do the following, so you can work wonders with your fleet too.

 Read  this  for more details on our approach. Below, is a small primer on the same:

Read this for more details on our approach. Below, is a small primer on the same:

Make bite-sized videos:

Clocking hours are as important for your drivers as it is for you. So, expecting them to spend a full 15 hours on training videos in one-go is not something you should advocate for. Instead split the training into small chunks, and intermittently send it to everyone, so they can snack on it in their free time.

Make it competitive:

Just like negative practices breed, so do positive ones. If a driver sees, (literally sees) that his colleagues across the country are familiar with the processes, he/she will train themselves just so they stay ahead of the curve. They don’t have to meet physically, but just a floating nudge in the virtual world should do the trick.

Test their knowledge, incentivise

There should be a logical end to their training program. Adults love to compare their performance with their peers. Use this hook to encourage them to the training module, so that they’re competent in all- things-ELD: Right from logging in, adding notes to records, all the way to reporting ELD malfunctions.

We’ve trained over 35,000 on-field workers, including vehicle drivers on their everyday processes. So, we can say with authority that while the axioms above sound fairly basic, the real meat lies in execution.

Thankfully, that’s getting easier with time: There are a few platforms in the market today, including ours, that helps you train large teams of dispersed staff, who’re constantly on the move, and have little time for a comprehensive 20-hour training session.

Tools, like Noticeboard, help you train, re-train, test, reward as well and refresh their skills, even when they’re on the go.

The result? Easy roadside inspections, fewer citations.