Everything Your Fleet Needs to Know about Hours of Service (HOS)

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Hours of service, or HOS, can be tricky for fleets to manage, especially with regulation changes and tricky rules like sleeper berth provisions. But these regulations are some of the most important for fleets. Drivers are on the road nearly 60 hours a week, with inconsistent schedules and many types of distractions. One of the most detrimental effects is drowsy driving, which results in an average 328,000 accidents per year, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

It’s facts like these that alter safety regulations and spark the creation of legislations such as the ELD mandate. This mandate by the FMCSA ensures that fleets are held accountable for the safety of their drivers and others on the road by requiring the implementation of ELD devices in all fleet vehicles.

ELD devices make it impossible to alter HOS logs—a common problem in the past. They also make it easier for fleets to avoid DOT violation fines and reduce the amount of paperwork drivers and administrators need to contend with. With such a big change, in an industry notorious for being technologically behind, there are a lot of questions. To untangle some of the confusion, read on. You’ll find everything you need to know about managing and tracking hours of service in your fleet below.

What are the Hours of Service Rules?

No one truly knows what sparked the first HOS Rules, but most widdle it down to the era they emerged from. It was a time filled with public outcry for more regulations to protect workers, especially during and after the Great Depression. Labor unions were also on the rise during that time. No matter how it started, it’s important to note there’s been very little change since the first regulations in 1935. After the passing of these regulations, drivers were able to work a cumulative 12 hours within a 15-hour period. There must be 3 cumulative hours of breaks and 9 hours of rest between shifts. There was also a cap of 60 hours on the road within a 7-day period.

Hours of service rules today were created in 2012 and implemented in 2018. There isn’t much difference between the original regulations and those of today. Drivers are now regulated to 11 hours within a 14-hour period. They must have a break every 8 hours and at least 10 hours between shifts. There are also sleeper berth provisions that provide drivers and fleet managers with more scheduling flexibility.

What are ELD Devices?

To ensure drivers and fleet managers remain compliant with these regulations, they must implement telematics or ELD devices into all vehicles. It’s the largest change to any regulation across the fleet industry. It’s also the most vital change and one that ensures accountability with more success than any other measure before. It’s been proven that inspections were not enough and it’s hard to ensure that numbers aren’t altered. Plus, paper logs are much more difficult to manage and even more difficult to ensure you don’t go over HOS limits while you’re out on the road.

ELD devices solve both of these problems by monitoring vehicle diagnostics in real-time. The devices then relay that information via satellite and cloud-based technology. It syncs with fleet management software to provide both drivers and managers accurate readings of vehicle issues, handling, idling, and run time. This software compiles this data in a central database where it is analyzed to create alerts, utilization reports, HOS logs, and more.

General Guidelines for Hours of Service Rules

One of the most challenging things about hours of service rules is there are slightly different rules between passenger-carrying fleets and cargo-carrying fleets. There are also differences in regulations between service areas and national fleets. To make matters worse, these rules and regulations will even vary state to state. You’ll notice this difference immediately with weigh stations across the country where most inspections of HOS compliance take place. You don’t have to stop at weigh stations in every state and the weight requirements may be different from place to place. Because of the lack of uniformity, there can be a little confusion. However, there are some general guidelines you can follow. While you must know the regulations that apply to your fleet, sticking true to the following can help ensure you remain compliant at all times.

Here are the guidelines:

  • All drivers must have 10 hours between shifts
  • Drivers may only work 60 hours per 7-day period; but drivers may work up to 70 hours within an 8-day period
  • Drivers are limited to 11 hours of driving within a 14-hour period
  • Drivers must take a minimum of 30 minutes off-duty after an 8-hour driving period
  • A reset of hours occurs after 34 hours of consecutive rest; a new work week begins from that point
  • All hours must be logged in real-time

It’s important to note there are exceptions to the guidelines above:

  • The 16-hour exemption: Drivers may work 16 consecutive hours if they only work one day a week. If so, they must begin and end their route at the same location.
  • The 30-minute break exemption: Short-haul drivers that work within a 150 mile radius are exempt from this rule.
  • Adverse driving conditions exemption: The 11-hour driving limit may extend to 13 hours in adverse conditions. The driver can’t have known about these conditions prior to their shift and they must still finish driving within a 15-hour period.
  • Emergency conditions exemption: HOS rules may be temporarily suspended in the case of a federal or state declared emergency.
  • Sleeper berth provision: This is less of an exemption and more a work around the rules. As part of the HOS, drivers must take 10 hours off-duty or in their sleeper berth between shifts. The new provision allows drivers to split these hours into a 2-hour break and an 8-hour break. It does not matter which you take first, so long as they are consecutive hours.

Hours of Service Violation Penalties

Failing to comply with hours of service rules can have a detrimental effect on your fleet. It’s nearly impossible to get away with failure to comply since all fleets face inspections—whether it be roadside, at a weigh station, or regulated annual inspections. This compliance failure may result in:

  • Placement out of service which may result in delivery delays.
  • ELD violation fines around $1,200 per day.
  • Additional CSA score points which could result in higher insurance premiums, a damaged reputation, and lost clientele.
  • Additional penalties for fleets that knowingly violate these regulations.
  • Complete shutdown of a carrier if penalties are severe and carriers don’t make efforts to resolve issues.
  • If a driver gets into an accident while having HOS overages, that driver may face jail time or cause the company millions in losses.

How to Avoid HOS Violations

Understanding HOS rules is the first step in avoiding violations. But it’s not enough for the fleet manager to know these rules. The entire fleet needs to know them as well. The next step is to ensure that you have an authorized ELD device in all of your fleet vehicles. After these initial steps, there are more comprehensive measures you can take.

Route Optimization

By optimizing your routes, drivers are taking the fastest path to their destination. This means they are less likely to miss their delivery times or overages in their hours of service. Also, by optimizing routes, you can preplan rest stops, gas refills, and sleep breaks. This means that both you and the driver know in advance the likelihood of hitting HOS targets.

Utilize exemptions

When you know the rules, it’s easier to work around them. For instance, if your drivers are nearing their 60 hours for the week, consider giving them 34 consecutive hours off before sending them on their next trip. You can also utilize the sleeper berth provision as a quicker solution while drivers are still on the road.

Fleet vehicle maintenance

It’s very common that vehicle down-time causes a domino effect of non-compliance with HOS provisions. Drivers may feel rushed to reach delivery times and therefore may miss their 30-minute break or drive overtime. Preventative maintenance allows you to make repairs before these become major issues with a lot of downtime. You should also consider shorter vehicle lifecycles, maintenance alerts, and more thorough DVIRs.

Telematics & fleet management software

Telematics devices are similar to ELDs, except they include more features such as route optimization, maintenance alerts and scheduling, fuel card integration, and more. They simply connect to your vehicle’s OBD-II port and then relay the real-time data from your vehicle’s engine to your fleet management software. You’ll not only receive accurate HOS logs, but you’ll also receive alerts to warn you when drivers approach limits. Fleet managers can also receive utilization and idling reports, as well as an easy-to-read dashboard with accurate real-time data that helps you make decisions about your fleet.

Learn more about fleet management software and telematics at Azuga.

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What is an Enterprise Fleet?

If you utilize company vehicles during the course of business, you might want to familiarize yourself with enterprise fleet management and maintenance. Operating a fleet can be a challenge. Luckily there are things that you can do to make your life a lot easier. In this article, we will answer what is an enterprise fleet? Plus, we’ll outline four key tips you should know about enterprise fleet management and an additional three tips about enterprise fleet maintenance.

What is an Enterprise Fleet?

An enterprise fleet, simply put, is a fleet of vehicles leased or owned by a business. Automotive Fleet Magazine defines enterprise fleets as commercial entities with 15 or greater vehicles. A wide range of businesses operate enterprise fleets. For example, delivery businesses and many businesses who do on-site service calls or have representatives travel to meet with clients have enterprise fleets.

The enterprise fleet industry is huge in the United States. Automotive Magazine recently released a report that outlines the number of cars and trucks that are leased or owned by enterprise fleets in the United States. Fleets in the U.S. leased 431,000 vehicles last year and owned 204,000 vehicles. There are a total of 727,000 trucks being leased by enterprise fleets and 1,860,000 trucks are owned by them.

In some areas, enterprise fleets are also made up of vehicles that are privately owned (or leased) by employees but used for business purposes. These are known as “grey fleet” vehicles. 

Tips on Enterprise Fleet Management

Enterprise fleet management can be a challenge. It’s a fast-paced job that requires you to stay on your toes. Fleet managers are often responsible for drivers and accountable to management. Below are four tips on how to excel in enterprise fleet management:

1. Create Instructions for Enterprise Fleet Vehicle Acquisition and Disposal

When a business lacks purchasing and disposal guidelines for fleet vehicles they may be giving up thousands of dollars through inefficiencies. Consistency is very important in enterprise fleet management.

Your company should look into bulk purchasing and understand the right time or number of miles at which to best sell a vehicle. Enterprise fleet managers should spec out options for fleet vehicles and assemble a purchasing plan. In addition, they should gain insight into the optimal time to dispose of fleet vehicles.

2. Be Proactive When it Comes to Safety

Fleet drivers face a whole host of distractions and safety hazards on the job. Great fleet managers know how to get ahead of things that might become problems. Invest in safety before accidents happen.

Investing in safety may look like hands-free devices for your drivers, installing an app that monitors driver behavior on their phones, or an in-cab camera that oversees drivers while they’re on the road. Ultimately, being proactive about safety will save your company money in the long run.

3. Set Performance Goals for Drivers

Many fleet managers find it useful to incentivize drivers to perform well. Drivers may be encouraged to achieve higher fuel efficiency or perform vehicle inspections regularly. No matter what goal you set, you should hold your drivers to a high-performance standard.

Driver behavior monitoring makes it simple to set goals and encourage safe driving habits. Actionable goals help managers encourage drivers to improve their driving habits. 

4. Continually Educate Yourself on the Enterprise Fleet Industry 

The best fleet managers know that the fleet industry is constantly changing and it's vital that managers keep up. Top fleet managers join industry associations, read trade publications and blogs, and overall keep up with what is happening in the industry.

Often fleet managers will discover new technologies to adopt when reading up on the fleet industry. This helps them keep ahead of the competition. With so much information readily available online, it’s never been easier for fleet managers to keep up-to-date and ahead of the curve.

Tips on Enterprise Fleet Maintenance

Fleet maintenance is integral to running a top-performing enterprise fleet. Here are three tips on how to excel at enterprise fleet maintenance:

1. Know Your Total Cost of Ownership

Pay attention to your maintenance costs and make note when they start to rise because of a vehicle’s age. Make sure you comprehend the warranty coverage provided by the manufacturer and the way it impacts the vehicle’s total cost of ownership. Those who excel at enterprise fleet management understand trends in the used vehicle market, the residual value of fleet vehicles, and the best time to sell fleet vehicles to obtain a cost-effective enterprise fleet.

2. Properly Spec Fleet Vehicles

A vital part of fleet maintenance is performing specs on vehicles. It’s important that this job is performed well. You should be aware of the demands your fleet vehicles will face. Make sure to outline vehicle usage.

The danger is that under-specing a fleet vehicle can lead to maintenance issues down the line that could put a dent in your budget. On the other hand, an over-spec’d fleet vehicle can also increase costs. Great fleet managers know the criteria involved with specing (operating conditions, what’s being carried, usage, etc.) and try to make theirs as accurate as possible.

3. Perform Preventative Maintenance

One of the most important things to understand about enterprise fleet maintenance is the cost savings involved in preventative maintenance. Well-maintained fleet vehicles are less likely to require unscheduled downtime or repairs. Some examples of preventative maintenance are general vehicle safety checks, oil changes, and tire rotation, and inspection. Make sure to perform these activities on a regular schedule.

Good enterprise fleet management practices help leaders in the fleet management industry achieve more. Take your fleet to the next level when you implement smart technology like Azuga Fleet™. The Azuga team is here to help boost your fleet’s productivity, improve safety, and save you hundreds each year. 

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If you’re a fleet owner, fleet manager, or even fleet driver, you should know about the OBD-II port. It’s a standardized diagnostic port that allows you to access data from the computer in a vehicle’s engine. GPS trackers can be installed in a vehicle’s OBD-II port to provide live engine and trip data to a central hub or the driver.

In this article we will outline the basics of OBD-II ports, the history of the OBD-II port, and detailed specs on the OBD-II port pinout. Vehicles are integral to fleets and understanding the OBD-II port is essential to getting the most out of yours.

What is OBD-II Port?

So what exactly is the OBD-II port? To start out let’s break down the abbreviation. “OBD” stands for “on-board diagnostics.” It refers to the vehicle’s electronic system that provides self-diagnostics and reporting features. This system is used by repair technicians to gain access to subsystem information in order to monitor the vehicle’s performance and properly repair it.

On-board diagnostics (OBD) is the uniform protocol that is used in most light-duty vehicles in order to access the vehicle’s diagnostic information. This information is produced by the vehicle’s engine control unit (ECU, also known as the engine control module). The engine control unit acts as the “brain” of the vehicle.

A vehicle’s OBD-II is a computer that monitors mileage, emissions, speed, and additional data about the vehicle. It’s connected to the vehicle’s dashboard and will alert the driver if any issues are detected (by turning on the check engine light for example).

The OBD-II port is accessible from inside the vehicle. It will generally be located under the dash on the driver’s side. It enables a mechanic (or anyone else with a specialized tool) to read the error code generated by the engine. Looking to install GPS trackers in your fleet vehicles? Check out our comprehensive guide to learn more about where these devices are installed.

History Behind the OBD-II Diagnostic Port

Early Years of On-Board Diagnostics

The origins of the OBD-II port began in the 1960s. Some of the organizations involved in the preliminary framework for the standard were the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the California Air Resources Board, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the International Organization for Standardization.

The first on-board diagnostics system that had the capacity to be scanned to check for issues with the vehicle’s engine was introduced by Volkswagen in 1968. Over ten years later, Datsun released a very basic on-board diagnostics system. Jump forward to 1980, when General Motors revealed a proprietary system including interface and protocol that was able to generate engine diagnostics and alert the driver via a check engine light. At the same time, other car manufacturers were introducing their own versions of on-board diagnostics.

Up until this time, before standardization hit the industry, manufacturers created their own proprietary systems. This meant the tools required to diagnose different vehicle’s engines were all different. They had their own connector type, requirements for electronic interface, and each used custom codes for reporting problems.

OBD-II Diagnostic Port Standardization 

Standardization finally came to on-board diagnostics in the late 1980s. In 1988 the Society of Automotive Engineers released a recommendation that called for a standard connector pin and set of diagnostics across the industry.

In 1991 the state of California mandated that all vehicles have some form of basic on-board diagnostics. This is known as OBD-I, a precursor to the OBD-II port.

OBD-II was created three years later, in 1994. In that year California required all vehicles sold (starting in 1996) to have on-board diagnostics as recommended by SAE. This is known as OBD-II. California introduced the legislation primarily in order to perform across-the-board emissions testing on vehicles. Due to California’s legislation, in 1996 car manufacturers started to install OBD-II ports in all cars and trucks across the country.

OBD-II introduced standardized diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs). There is a slight variation among OBD-II systems. These variations are known as protocols. They are specific to vehicle manufacturers and there are five basic signal protocols:

  • ISO14230-4 (KWP2000): Keyword Protocol
  • ISO9141-2: Used in all Chrysler vehicles
  • SAE J1850 VPW: Variable Pulse Width
  • SAE J1850 PWM: Pulse Width Modulation
  • ISO 15765 CAN: Controller Area Network (used in all vehicles made after 2008)

In-Depth: OBD-II Diagnostic Port

The OBD-II port pinout gives access to the engine’s status information and Diagnostic Trouble Codes. The DTCs cover a number of aspects of the vehicle including powertrain (engine and transmission) and emission control systems. The OBD-II pinout also provides further information including the vehicle identification number (VIN), Calibration Identification Number, ignition counter, and emissions control system counters.

These DTCs are stored in a computer system. It’s important to note that these codes vary between manufacturers. There are trouble codes for a wide range of aspects of the vehicle including powertrain (including engine, transmission, emissions), chassis, body, and network. The list of standard diagnostic trouble codes is extensive.

If a fleet vehicle is brought to a shop to be serviced, the mechanic can connect to the vehicle’s OBD-II port pinout with a standardized scanning tool to read the error codes and identify the issue. The OBD-II port lets mechanics accurately diagnose issues with your fleet’s vehicles, inspect them promptly, and fix any issues before they become major problems. Ultimately the OBD-II port helps get your fleet vehicles back on the road faster and stay there longer.

Detailed Look: OBD-II Port Pinout

Any OBD-II scan tool can read DTCs due to the standardized pinout. Scanning tools have the capacity to read from any of the 5 protocols. The standardized OBD-II port pinout is as follows:

Pin 1: Utilized by manufacturer

Pin 2: Utilized by SAE J1850 PWM and VPW

Pin 3: Utilized by manufacturer

Pin 4: Ground

Pin 5: Ground

Pin 6: Utilized by ISO 15765-4 CAN

Pin 7: ISO 14230-4 and The K-Line of ISO 9141-2

Pin 10: Utilized solely by SAE J1850 PWM

Pin 14: Utilized by ISO 15765-4 CAN

Pin 15: ISO 14230-4 and the K-Line of ISO 9141-2

Pin 16: Power from the vehicle’s battery

Your fleet vehicle's OBD-II ports may be small but they can play a big role in helping your fleet succeed. To learn about what OBD-II ports can be used to help your fleet succeed check out Azuga Fleet. This smart fleet tracking software will allow you to take your company to the next level without the growing pains.

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What is the ELD Mandate?

Fleet managers should be well aware of the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate. Non-compliance with ELD rules can cost your organization thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. Fleets that are still operating with automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) need to be aware that their technology is outdated and should be upgraded to ELDs immediately to avoid penalties.

The use of ELDs is already widespread. According to a study by C.J. Driscoll & Associates, a consulting and market research firm, 3 million ELDs and ABORDs are currently being used by fleets in the United States.

In this article we will outline what an ELD is, explain the ELD mandate, and provide a timeline of ELD rule history. In addition, we will explain the hard deadlines for ELD compliance, highlight some of the latest news about the ELD mandate, and explain what fleet managers should know.

What is an ELD?

Electronic logging devices, also known by their acronym ELD, provide an accurate, streamlined method of recordkeeping for drivers and fleet operators. These records are often mandated by law. ELDs make the mandatory task of recording a daily logbook easier.

ELDs are connected directly to the vehicle’s engine. They provide stellar data for fleet managers to utilize. Data from ELDs is sent to a telematics system. Managers and office personnel can use this system to review hours of service (HOS) statuses, generate reports, and come up with optimized routes for drivers.

Electronic logging devices capture a wide range of information from the vehicle including date, time, vehicle identification, motor carrier identification, geographic location, miles traveled, engine power up and shutdown, yard moves, and engine diagnostics and malfunction data. ELDs also log information on the vehicle’s driver such as their logon/logoff, HOS, driver or authorized user identification, duty status changes, personal use, and certification of driver’s daily record.

ELDs record all of this data automatically. However, if there is an issue or omission, some entries can be manually edited by the driver or support staff. These edits are tracked and must be approved by the driver.

Organizations can utilize the data from ELDs to better understand which drivers need coaching, which routes are the most profitable, and which routes are the most expensive in terms of fuel consumption and time. HOS information, recorded by ELDs, can even be displayed in the cab. This allows the driver to monitor how many hours they have left and display the information easily to a roadside inspection.

What is the ELD Mandate?

The ELD mandate was created in 2012 when the United States Congress enacted the bill “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century” (commonly known as MAP-21). This bill outlined criteria for highway funding but also contained a provision that mandated the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to create a rule requiring the adoption and use of ELDs.

So why did the FMCSA implement the ELD mandate? According to the FMCSA “the rule is intended to help create a safer work environment for drivers, and make it easier and faster to accurately track, manage, and share RODS [Record of Duty Status] data.”

Timeline of the ELD Mandate

After being required by congress in the 2012 bill MAP-21, the FMCSA released a notice in March of 2014 that proposed creating amendments to its safety regulations to enact the ELD mandate. Comments for the proposed mandate were due by May of 2014.

The FMCSA finally published the ELD mandate in December of 2015. The mandate requires the use of ELDs for vehicles in the commercial bus and truck industries.

The first deadline laid out in the FMCSA’s ELD mandate was December 18, 2017. By this date, all drivers and carriers subject to the ELD mandate had to have either an ELD or an AOBRD installed in their vehicle.

ELD Mandate 2019: Deadline

According to the ELD mandate, AOBRDs could be used up until December 16, 2019 (as long as the device was installed before December 18, 2017). After this date, all drivers and carriers were required to use electronic logging devices.

2019 was the last year that drivers could use AOBRDs. If your fleet is still using them, it’s time to upgrade as soon as possible. The ELD mandates 2019 as the final deadline to switch.

ELD Mandate - Latest News

Much of the latest news about the ELD mandate has revolved around the December 2019 deadline to switch over from AOBRDs. Recently, Transport Topic noted that “motor carriers should not underestimate the amount of planning and training needed to ensure a smooth rollout [of ELD devices]”. This is according to a panel at the American Trucking Associations’ Management Conference & Exhibition in 2019.

FreightWaves reported that right up to the ELD Mandate 2019 deadline, adoption rates of ELD devices remained low. Many businesses were waiting until the last possible moment to switch over.

One of the most pertinent pieces of recent news comes again from Transport Topic, who reported that commercial vehicle inspectors are not offering a grace period of “soft enforcement” for truckers who have not switched to ELDs. At this point in time, if your fleet is operating without ELDs, you may face an out-of-service violation.

What Fleet Managers Should Know

The deadline to equip fleet vehicles with ELDs has long passed. If fleet managers want to avoid potential penalties or fines they should make sure their vehicles are all equipped with the necessary items. This includes a certified, registered, regulation-compliant ELD, an ELD user manual, an instruction sheet for reporting ELD malfunctions, and instructions for the data transfer mechanisms your ELD is capable of. Fines for non-compliance can be costly and total thousands of dollars.

Fleet managers should also be aware that ELDs are not allowed everywhere. There are certain areas that prohibit commercial vehicles from operating with an ELD including any U.S. government or government contractor facilities.

The ELD mandate is especially important for fleet managers to know and understand. The deadline to comply has long passed and fleet vehicles now must be equipped with ELDs. To learn more about this important mandate and optimizing your fleet, head to Azuga. The Azuga team is here to help boost productivity, optimize route planning, and so much more.

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