The ELD mandate has brought about significant changes in commercial driving compliance. As of December of 2019, fleet managers across the country have upgraded their HOS (hours of service) record-keeping to ELDs (electronic logging devices). But if a fleet wants to avoid ELD violation fines, these shiny new devices are not enough. Commercial drivers also need to accurately log their hours, avoiding “unassigned” time in each ELD’s driving time log.
There are more reasons to understand unassigned driving time than just compliance. Proper use of an ELD can help boost productivity, cut costs, and simplify fleet management. The ELD Mandate has already made some improvements in the commercial fleet world. The number of drivers getting violations from DOT (Department of Transportation) inspections is falling. They dropped from 1.19% to .69% during the soft rollout period of December 2017 through April 2018. With this update, fleets can better optimize operations, and fleet managers are finding their jobs simplified.
What Is Unassigned Driving Time?
Unassigned driving time is any period in which a commercial motor vehicle moves without the driver being logged in to its ELD. Most often, this happens when a vehicle is moved for reasons outside of regular business purposes, such as going to the garage for maintenance or fueling up.
No matter the reason, if a fleet wants to avoid fines for non-compliance, this unassigned driving time has to be appropriately logged or noted in the ELD. This rule is in place to keep drivers from continuing to operate a vehicle when they’re past their HOS allotment.
Unassigned Driving Time Occurs:
- When a driver simply forgets to log in to their ELD before starting a trip
- When the ELD device is left behind, whether in the main office, in another vehicle, or elsewhere
- When the ELD device’s battery dies, or ELD performance is otherwise interrupted
- When support staff members such as mechanics, technicians, or maintenance staff move a vehicle
Consequences of Unassigned Driver Time
It’s simple to see how some of these mistakes can happen during a busy workday. While you may want to brush off some of the above actions as no big deal, the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) would differ.
Unassigned drive time is one reason an inspector may levy a fine against a fleet and deduct points from their CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) score. Enough CSA deductions will eventually lead to a grounded fleet, something any fleet manager should work diligently to avoid.
When a driver goes through a roadside inspection, the inspector reviews driver logs and unassigned drive time. In this review, the DOT inspector or highway patrol officer is looking for big chunks of unassigned drive time. Long durations of unassigned driving are usually indicators that a company or driver is trying to get around HOS limits.
During roadside inspections, your driver may need to provide up to six months of logs to prove your ELDs are correctly maintained. If several unassigned periods exist, this can add up to hefty fines and a big hit to your fleet’s CSA score.
How to Avoid Unassigned Drive Time
The best tool you have to avoid unassigned drive time is training. Unassigned drive time should be an essential part of your driver safety training program. Be sure you’ve created a solid and thorough program that reinforces HOS logging for every staff member who has access to your fleet vehicles. Then, offer mandatory training sessions to each of your drivers and support staff on an ongoing, periodic basis.
In training, be sure that every driver and every support staff member who has access to your fleet knows how to use your ELDs. They should understand how to resolve any common ELD issues they may encounter on the road. Ensure each driver is taking the following steps before each trip:
- Log in to the ELD.
- Check that the ELD is plugged into a power source or has adequate battery power.
- Review any unassigned driving events previously recorded.
- Accept unassigned driving events that belong to the driver.
- Report to the fleet manager if there are unassigned driving events that belong to others.
Next, you’ll want to review your ELD records daily to catch any problems promptly. This way, you can correct the logs while the day is still fresh in everyone’s minds. The easiest way to check for unassigned drive time is to implement an ELD that includes a robust telematics reporting system. Ideally, you’ll want to set up alerts for any unassigned driving time or receive a daily report that allows you to verify all drivers are correctly logging their HOS details. If you find unassigned driving events when reviewing this data, there are ways to correct the problem.
- Determine who the driver was at the time of the unassigned drive time and confirm it with that person. A straightforward way to do this is to ensure you have Dashcams installed in all of your fleet vehicles.
- If you can’t determine who should be responsible for the unassigned time, you must add notes or comments explaining the issue. One reason this may happen is if a third-party moved the vehicle, such as a contracted technician who was only on-site once and unfamiliar with your ELD solution.
If you’re a fleet manager, you should be paying very close attention to unassigned drive time and its resolution. We can help with easy-to-use solutions and comprehensive reporting for each vehicle in your fleet. Contact Azuga today to see how we can help you monitor and solve this problem to avoid fines and other actions against your fleet.