Roadside Inspection Questionnaire
by David Owen
Below is a report on the roadside inspection questionnaire that accompanied our last newsletter. Thank you for those of you who took the time to respond. This data will be merged with several other associations’ responses to the same questionnaire and the broader results will be published at a later date. It will also be posted on our website.
This exercise did pose a different question to me however: Since we only got a 1% response (63), can we assume that issues involving roadside inspections are not that pertinent to 99% of our membership?
Click Here To Download The Report
The ELD Mandate
by David Owen
The federal government has been struggling for twenty-some years to implement and standardize the procedure for enforcing the hours of service (HOS) rule for professional truck drivers. We went from tachometers to AOBR’s to EOBR’s and now, to ELD’s (electronic logging devices). The thought process assumed that greater compliance with the HOS would ultimately lead to improved safety numbers and a reduction of the impact of driver fatigue in large truck crashes. There was also an assumption that paper logs were easily manipulated to trick the system and allow companies and drivers to run outside the HOS and cheat. We’ve been discussing and debating the validity of the above assumptions for two and one half decades with no true consensus in sight.
NASTC and many others in transportation have agreed since the turn of the century and the birth of FMCSA as an agency that the place to start was with the HOS regulation itself. We’ve argued that the 14-hour rule could be made palatable by simply providing an easily-understood and flexible SPLIT SLEEPER BERTH allowance for over-the-road drivers and much of the harassing and dangerous aspects of the 14- hour rule would be greatly diminished, along with log violations. We’ve argued that simplifying the rule rather than complicating it would eliminate a large percentage of the form and function errors committed by drivers who try to log the trip as it was driven. Not only have these arguments found a deaf ear at the agency, but it also seems they have tried to move incessantly in the opposite direction. They have essentially compressed the 14-hour rule to one of 13 hours with their unnecessary and frivolous forced thirty-minute break requirement, they over-complicated and pretty much eunuched the usability of the 34-hour restart rule with the one-to-five mandate and the restriction of only one re-start per 168 hour period, and in general, made the logging function so complex that even the most experienced driver, safety manager, consultant, or enforcement official can’t log or audit consistently or correctly.
In many ways, ELD’s have always been a solution looking for a problem. However, like it or not, need it or not, afford it or not, Congress has caved to the unsupportable idea that mandated ELD’s will save lives and reduce crashes and has demanded that FMCSA carry out the mandate with the appropriate set of regulations. As it stands today, barring law suits, all over-the-road trucks and drivers will log their trips through an ELD device sometime in 2017 (excepting those however, that have been exempted).
Ironically, in our hyper over-regulated industry, log audits are not required or spelled out in the regulations. However, you the CEO, President, and financier of your trucking entity, are ultimately responsible for assuring that you are not condoning non-compliance or, that you’re only paying lip service to the accuracy of your drivers’ logs (ROD’s).
The HOS (logs) BASIC in CSA is by far the most worrisome BASIC for NASTC members. In our last study on over all NASTC BASIC performance, this BASIC was two to three times more likely to pop up as an alert, than all the other BASICS, including maintenance. Our study showed that in the general population of small, OTR carriers, 50% had alerts in this area, 42% of NASTC members had alerts, and 19% of our carriers who have implemented our Management and Safety Program (MSP) were over the “limbo bar” in the BASIC. Regardless of size, business model, or experience, we feel that in today’s environment, you must have a creditable system for compliance and audit. NASTC can help you with that.
Though I’ll be opposed to the mandate itself to the grave, I feel it is now time to implement ELD’s and true log audits in your business plan. Since deregulation in 1980 to the present, most of you mainly because of size, have assumed the position of “I’ll do that only when I have to. I’m too small; I’ll fly under the radar. I’ll pay the fines, it’s part of doing business.” CSA and the new proposed rating system for carrier fitness to operate under your authority dictate that you not assume those rationales on this issue. Today, NOW is the time to get ahead of the mandate, not 2017 when your relative numbers are too high comparatively, to repair.
Call me on this – NASTC has efficient and inexpensive solutions to this conundrum.