Tech

The True Cost Of ELD Mandate Penalties For Truckers

By Eric Hamilton , Feb 10, 2020 10:42 AM EST

The new change on the ELD mandate was fully enforced on December 17 last year. The latest amendment states that truck drivers are no longer allowed to use automatic onboard recording devices and paper logs. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) confirmed that there would be no grace periods or exemptions to the new rule.

Even before its date of implementation, the trucking industry anticipated that they would meet plenty of road bumps ahead when adjusting to the new ELD platform.

Despite two years of enforcement, the mandate is still widely unpopular among the trucking industry. The decree passed into law, intending to regulate the hours of work for truck drivers. However, truck drivers greet it with dismay as many complained that the ELD final rule made them drive more recklessly and knocked down their salaries. 

About four years have passed since the mandate was released, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has been implementing penalties to violators. The ELD rule tightly regulated the trucking industry, which gained the ire of truck drivers and owner-operators as it deprived them of the freedom to work as much as they want.

What is a ELD?

An Electronic Logging Device (ELD) is an electronic system that allows professional truck drivers, owner-operators, and commercial motor carriers to trace their hours of service conveniently. It enables drivers to log in electronically and select n-duty, off-duty, and on-duty not driving. 

An Electronic Logging Device is seemingly a complicated device. It connects to a truck's engine to monitor if the commercial vehicle is in motion. This technical setup allows the device to automatically select On-duty or Off duty options based on the vehicle movement.

ELD providers also require certification to make sure that their devices meet the proper specifications. The tool can provide data in a standardized format accessible to law enforcement. The government offers a variety of prescribed ways for transmission, such as web services, Bluetooth, or through USB.

What Is the Cost of Violations To The ELD Mandate

OOS or out-of-service is a term used when a non-exempt driver becomes penalized for not using a ELD. Additionally, drivers are placed on an OOS status when caught using an unauthorized ELD or falsifying logs. 

When found violating these regulations, authorities will place drivers in an OOS status for at least 10 hours. As such, red-handed drivers are not allowed to continue the trip during this period. It also means that the truck remains towed for some time. The cost of towing varies depending on the miles, which usually costs around $350 for a 40-mile tow.

A driver can resume his delivery after completing the said hours of out-of-service status provided that the driver has paper logs to show for his travel. 

The towing cost is only the beginning of the losses. Additionally, some fines and penalties may apply, and the price could range from a thousand dollars up to more than ten thousand.

Apart from fines and towing costs, revenue loss for each day whenever a driver falls under OOS status makes another trouble to worry. An estimated total revenue loss of around $300 per day goes down the drain when a driver is out-of-service. 

ELD Violations Impact CSA's SMS Scores

Aside from penalties, fines, towing expenses, and revenue loss, Violations also affect CSA Scores. Previously, ELD violations didn't affect CSA scores until April 1, 2018. FMCSA referred to this as the soft enforcement period.

Now that ELD violations affect CSA scores, fleet owners should be more aware of the specifics to this new update. There are initially 22 ELD related violations that affect CSA scores. The smallest mistakes can lead to breaches with considerable ramifications. 

For instance, a violation of 395.8(A) has a fine that costs around $2,800. This penalty is on top of the violation points that affect the company's CSA score. Varying point deductions accompany different violations. Failure to present supporting records in the driver's possession upon request, which is a violation of 395.11G, carries the highest violation point of 7.  

Most violations have smaller severity weights that only carry one violation point. These violations include failure to mount portable ELDs in a fixed position, inability to maintain an ELD instruction sheet and user manual, and failing to make annotations when required. These may seem like simple violations, but when accumulated, can significantly reduce a company's CSA score.

This is why you need to keep up with ELD news often. 

What Makes CSA's SMS Scores So Important?

The FMCSA keeps track of CSA Scores each month and uses it to identify high-risk carriers or drivers. The score is based on diverse factors, including driving performance data, safety-based roadside inspection violations, and reported crashes. The FMCSA assigns a percentage of 0 to 100, and the higher the rate, the worse is the performance. 

Maintaining a low percentage score reduces the likelihood of FMCSA interventions. Aside from using these scores to determine a carrier's crash risk, the FMCSA uses this to decide which airlines to prioritize for interventions.

Good CSA scores also increase the company's chances of exploring excellent business opportunities. Potential clients usually look at a carrier's CSA scores on deciding about the ideal partner company. Clients see high ratings as a sign that the fleet company may not be a reliable choice.

Additionally, having good scores allow fleet companies to save on their insurance premiums. Companies with bad ratings are often subject to higher insurance premiums considering that a bad score is equivalent to poor driving performance and increased crash risk. 

Why Avoid Penalties?

It is evident from the information stated above that having violations negatively affect a fleet business in so many ways. ELD violations directly and consequently cost the company money in terms of expensive fines and lost daily revenue due to OOS drivers. Moreover, having violations adversely affects the company's CSA scores, which reduces the company's marketability and hinders its chances of getting good business. As such, it is always best to make sure that the business and drivers remain compliant to the ELD final rule. 

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