Figuring out the difference between two different types of electronics has proven to be the biggest hurdle for law enforcement officers and truckers in Indiana, dealing with a truck industry mandate.

“They may look identical, but the functionality is different,” said Lt. Chris Barr, field operations commander of the commercial vehicle enforcement division of the Indiana State Police.

Some of the biggest confusion lies over the differences in ELD and automatic on-board recording device technology and in both truckers and officers knowing how to operate the technology. The “soft enforcement” phase of the mandate ends on April 1, when officers will start placing drivers out of service for ELD violations

Barr said that truckers are using AOBRDs, automatic on-board recording devices, thinking that those perform the same functions as ELDs, electronic logging devices. ELDs became mandatory in many trucks when a regulation requiring their use went into effect on Dec. 18.

However, law enforcement are in a phase of learning, education and “soft enforcement” until April 1. That’s when out-of-service criteria related to the ELD rule go into effect and when officers can place trucks and drivers out of service for violations of the ELD rule.

“In Indiana, the enforcement is in the learning phase, just as our drivers are. The out-of-service criteria is not going to take effect until April 1, so we’re not placing any drivers out of service if they don’t have an ELD when required. And, there are no CSA points assessed for any roadside inspection,” Barr said.

Barr and Kim Hill, district coordinator and supervisor of the West Harrison scales and the Seymour scales, spoke about the first month of working with the new rule. Hill is keeping officers informed about changes happening within the rule and also answering questions for officers.

“I conducted the training for the commercial vehicle enforcement division on ELDs, and we did that back in December, before the rule became effective. At least once a week, and maybe twice a week, if needed, I send out an frequently-asked questions email, with questions and answers, so we can all continue to learn,” Hill said.

Learning Curve

They both said that trying to figure out if the device a truck is using is an AOBRD or an ELD, which can look alike, has been a big challenge.

“Determining which systems are an ELD and which are an AOBRD, because they may look alike, but the functionality is different, continues to be a challenge. When they are looking at the systems, there has been a little bit of confusion and some growing pains on what are they actually looking at,” Barr said.

He added that uploading hours of service records for the driver is an essential function of ELDs, which AOBRDs cannot do.

“If I am looking at an ELD, I can expect that device to be able to upload their records to an e-ROD (electronic Record Of Duty) program. An AOBRD is not capable of doing that function,” he said.

Confusion also exists around the rule’s effective date and the April 1 out-of-service effective date.

“We’ve had drivers and companies confused about the no out-of-service and no CSA points until April situation. They think that the whole mandate was pushed back to April,” Hill said.

Some drivers also have mistaken the April 1 date for the date they need to be operating an ELD.

“They think that because they delayed the out-of-service criteria and the CSA points, they don’t have to worry about getting an ELD until that time. This is a soft enforcement approach taken by FMCSA on the mandate,” Barr said.

Officers have had a learning curve, too.

“The most difficult part has been teaching them what type of device they are looking at and then all the exemptions. With this being such a new regulation, we have exemptions and exceptions coming in almost every day, it seems. So, keeping ahead of that and getting that updated information out to the officers in the field has been a challenge,” Hill said.

Indiana State Police has 77 sworn troopers in the commercial vehicle enforcement division, 38 motor carrier inspectors and then 170 non-division troopers who are assigned to districts on regular road patrol and who are trained in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations.

Hill said the best tip she would give truck owners and trucking company owners and drivers is to get trained on the device they are using.

“For the companies, I would say do some training on these devices. For the drivers, simply knowing if they have an ELD or an AOBRD. That’s one of the first questions I ask when I talk to a driver — what kind of log do you have?”

According to Code of Federal Regulations rule 395.8, drivers who had installed and were using an AOBRD before Dec. 18, 2017, will be able to continue to use that until Dec. 18, 2019, but they must be able to provide enforcement officers with hours of duty records.

“I’m going to say we’re going to accept either one, for the most part, until December 2019, as long as they can provide us with that day’s and the previous seven consecutive days of their records of duty status,” Barr said.

Being able to quickly access ELD information and knowing what type of device they are using, along with having all the appropriate documents ready to go, also can save a driver headaches — and money.

“I try to encourage drivers to be a little bit more organized, if for no other reason than the faster that they can provide a document I’ve just asked for is that much less time that I am standing there idle with maybe more time to look around and discover another violation, just because I’ve had that extra time,” Barr said.

Jeannine Otto AgriNews Publications

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