FMCSA Adds ELD Violation to CSA
HOS Compliance BASIC Impacted
In mid-December 2022, with little explanation, the FMCSA informed the trucking industry that its last monthly CSA scoring run of 2022 (often referred to as the SMS run, or Safety Measurement System run) would include the following violation with a severity weighting value associated with it:
The ELD mandate has now been in effect in the U.S. for 5 full years (2018-2022), and this recent change by FMCSA raises a few questions. For example, how often is this violation found and documented by inspectors during roadside inspections? And, if it is often discovered, will it meaningfully impact a carrier’s HOS BASIC score? A quick check of FMCSA’s Analysis & Information Online website in mid-January 2023 revealed this violation was documented more than 88,000 times in the last 5 years and, in 2022 alone, almost 23,000 of these violations were discovered and documented. In fact, in both 2021 and 2022, this violation entered the ‘top 15’ driver violation list, coming in at 14th on the list of most cited driver violations. These numbers clearly indicate the frequency of this violation is increasing and it will generate more HOS BASIC points for affected motor carriers, raising the possibility of a more unfavorable percentile ranking in that BASIC.
After 5 years of the ELD mandate, FMCSA’s decision to include this violation in CSA also raises the question ‘Why Now’? While FMCSA’s notice on this change did not address this question, the answer is likely simple and straightforward. Since the frequency of this violation has increased over the last 2 years, FMCSA is likely trying to reverse the trend by: (1) penalizing carriers whose drivers are not properly trained on how to electronically transmit their ELD records during roadside inspections; and/or, (2) by engaging carriers to place more pressure on their ELD providers to ensure the ELD software complies with all the electronic record transmission requirements in the FMCSR. Experience in the field has shown this issue can be a sticking point between driver and enforcement interactions, and becomes a he-said, she-said issue. So, when it comes to carriers challenging these violations in the DataQs system, rarely is the violation reversed.
No matter the reason, affected motor carriers should be aware of this recent change, and take appropriate steps to ensure their ELDs, and their drivers, can properly transmit ELD records for inspection, when requested. Also, in the event of the he-said, she-said scenario, consider taking a driver statement to document the driver’s recollection of the events while it is fresh in their minds, as this could help in the event you decide to use the DataQs system to challenge the violation. Lastly, carriers — if not doing so already — should view their FMCSA portal to determine how often your drivers have received this violation and to train drivers if necessary.
P. Sean Garney
Scopelitis Transportation Consulting, LLC
Garney has his Masters in Transportation Policy, Operations and Logistics from George Mason University. He is an active member of several motor carrier industry associations and serves on several local citizens advisory boards focused on transportation.