FMCSA's DeLorenzo. Photo: Stephane Babcock

FMCSA's DeLorenzo. Photo: Stephane Babcock

PHOENIX-- As Joe DeLorenzo, director of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance, sees it, there are positive reasons why all motor carriers need to be conscious of the upcoming electronic logging device mandate deadline of December 18, 2017. 

“There’s a lot of benefits for all of us towards our goal of making sure the transportation environment is as safe as possible,” said DeLorenzo, addressing attendees of the Omnitracs Outlook conference here on Feb. 28. He said that includes gaining shorter inspection times. “That’s 15 minutes you get back in productivity for your drivers.”

But to enjoy the benefits, as well as to be in compliance, fleets need to preplan, according to DeLorenzo, who added that while the hours of service regulations have not changed, the use of ELDs has changed the landscape.

“There’s more transparency into what drivers are doing,” said DeLorenzo. “So I’d be looking ahead now at what your operation looks like and how to construct that to make the sure the ELD implementation goes smoothly.”

The biggest mistake, according to DeLorenzo,  is taking things for granted and then waiting until the last second, and then finding out that some issue makes compliance that much more difficult. In answering his most commonly asked question – Who needs an ELD? – DeLorenzo answered it simply: “If you’re a driver who uses a logbook, you will need an ELD.”

For those with concerns about transferring data during an inspection, DeLorenzo agreed that problems may arise, which is why drivers have numerous options, including printouts, allowing for a screen display that is easily visible to law enforcement, emailing the records, or allowing the inspector to download it via a USB device or Bluetooth.

Towards the end of his presentation, DeLorenzo looked ahead to the upcoming Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse requirements, which will be implemented in January 2020.

“There’s a lot of misunderstanding,” said DeLorenzo. “But it’s an important rule that is going to being a big increase in safety.”

The main point of the rule, according to DeLorenzo, is to provide information to motor carriers about drivers that have had positive drug and alcohol tests and whether those drivers have completed the steps they need to return to duty.

In terms of reporting, he said the rule will require employers, third-party administrators and medical review officers to report any violations to the clearinghouse, as well as reports from substance abuse professionals about driver completing any mandatory return-to-duty and/or alcohol rehabilitation programs.

In terms of querying the system, employer will need to do so during the pre-employment screening process and during a driver’s annual verification. Drivers will also be notified electronically (if registered) any time information is added, modified or removed from the clearinghouse. No fees will be assessed for drivers to access their information.

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