The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will publish its final rule mandating the use of electronic logging devices some time this year, according to Joe DeLorenzo, director of FMCSA’s office of enforcement and compliance.
Speaking at the Omnitracs Outlook user conference in Dallas Feb. 10, DeLorenzo said that when he’s talking about ELDs, he’s talking about the upcoming rule. “There are no ELDs right now,” he said. Rather current regulations refer to automated onboard recording devices (49 CFR 395.15).
The reasons for the ELD mandate are pretty straight forward, he said. FMCSA believes the devices will improve safety and will improve the recording of drivers’ hours and cut down on citations that result from simple paperwork errors driver may make.
The ELD rule will also provide uniformity. “Right now, there are a lot of devices out there,” he said. “We’ll get to a point with this rule where we will have uniformity” across the industry. A key point for carriers, he said is to “know the difference between the devices you are using now and make sure your drivers are well versed in how to use them.”
On the topic of how crashes and accountability and how that is recorded in the agency’s SMS, he noted, “it’s a difficult topic.” He noted that a recent study tried to address how the agency handles accountability. It’s a difficult situation because while they found that police accident reports could be useful in determining accountability, “we don’t get police accident reports on all crashes.” Plus, when they compared police accident reports with the fatal accident reporting system (FARS), they found there was a fair amount of data mismatch. “There were data quality issues. When we compared the two, they weren’t matching.” He said they were “looking for help,” on the subject, trying to find data sources that could be of value in determining crash accountability.
As for requesting that inaccurate data be corrected on a carriers CSA reports via the DataQs method, he advised carriers “take the time to file a good one” and make sure to file all the appropriate information – anything the carrier has that will substantiate their information.
He also talked about the changes to the 34-hour restart provision in drivers’ hours of service rules that went into effect at the end of December. Certain aspects of the rule 34-hour rule that require two 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. periods during the 34 hours had been suspended until Sept. 30 pending another study on the issue. He noted that the 34-hour restart was to provide flexibility to the industry and that the rule that is important for fleets is the 60/70 hour rule, he said “I’ve never seen a study get off the ground as quickly as this one.”
He also talked about the recent change regarding driver vehicle inspection reports. Carriers are no longer required to file DVIRs if no defects are found. However, that does not mean drivers are not required to perform those inspections. And he said, the revision “does not change the fact that you have to keep them on file for a period of time.”
The biggest rules coming up, of course will be the final ELD rule and a proposed rule on Safety Fitness Determination. He advised carriers to check out the agency's CSA website to learn more about CSA, check company safety records, order driver records and to request data reviews.