Three Risks You’re Taking for ELD Non-Compliance
By now, you’ve heard the word: You’ll need an ELD (or its lesser cousin, the AOBRD) installed in your truck and working by December 18, 2017, or you’ll face severe penalties.
The last chance of avoiding the brave new world of electronic tracking for the trucking industry expired with a Supreme Court decision in June. The Court struck down an attempt to forestall the new regulations based on 4th Amendment objections.
This means if you’re hauling, you’ll also need to be electronically collecting data using an ELD or AOBRD. You’ll need to be ready to show your HOS and other data that the FMCSA has deemed critical if you’re stopped by law enforcement.
Not everyone is ready for the ELD mandate. News reports describe “panic buying” of ELD solutions with the approaching deadline, and some vendors have taken advantage to jack up prices and provide inferior ELD solutions. Given the current craziness, it might be tempting to try to skirt the law and find an excuse to keep your logs on paper – at least for a little while longer.
Before going down that road, there are a few things you should know. ELD non-compliance is being taken very seriously by the FMCSA and transport law enforcement across the country, and the risks of avoiding an ELD solution can greatly outweigh the costs of a good ELD.
Risk 1: Fines
The FMCSA has instituted fines for the lack of an ELD. The estimated fine for each “acute” violation is $8,672. A violation can also result in a BASIC score of anywhere from one to ten points.
Some might brush that off with an “if they catch me.” Chances are, they will.
Fine collection in the transport industry nationwide totaled over $102M in just the first six months of 2017. Trucking fines are a major source of income for many states. Given the extreme penalties and the ease with which enforcement can prove non-conformity, it’s a good bet they’re going to be picking off the non-ELD trucks as often as possible.
Can you afford even a single $8,672 fine?
ELD non-compliance is being taken very seriously by the FMCSA and transport law enforcement across the country, and the risks of avoiding an ELD solution can greatly outweigh the costs of a good ELD.
Of course, the fines are only one aspect of ELD enforcement. The law can also put you and your rig out of service for up to ten hours with each infraction.
Risk 2: Mandatory Out-Of-Service
Maybe you think if you’re caught, you might just pay the fine, slap yourself on the side of the head, and deliver your load after finally ordering that ELD. That might not be possible. Your rig might be sidelined for the better part of the day. Delays will likely get your customers upset, and jeopardize future business.
Note that this applies to each infraction. There’s nothing stopping another state trooper from pulling you over five miles down the road after you finally get started, and putting you out of service – and fining you – again.
Also note that for each out-of-service penalty for ELD non-conformance, it’s an extra two points on your BASIC record. That’s in addition to the points levied for not having an ELD.
As bad as the individual penalties for owner-operators sound, it can be even worse for fleets.
Risk 3: Fleet Penalties
ELD non-conformance on a single truck can lead to penalties on every truck in the fleet if investigators determine a pattern of non-compliance. That means fines can potentially be in the millions for a large fleet operator.
True, ELD’s can be expensive and intrusive, but not as expensive and intrusive as being caught without them.
Some Good News
It’s not entirely grim. There are a few ways the ELD deadline might not be as bad as it sounds.
First, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) has announced that they won’t apply OOS penalties until April 1, 2018. Their precise wording leaves enforcement up to the ticketing officer. A “soft launch” of the OOS penalty is in-line with how other major regulatory changes have been applied.
The other good news: There’s still time to acquire and implement an affordable and effective ELD solution today. That’s the best way to keep on truckin’.