The most recent Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) roadside inspection data showed alarming results as the ELD mandate implementation date approaches. In the fiscal year 2017, which ended on September 30, roadside driver inspections and violations increased by just less than one percent, but the number of violations that resulted in an out-of-service (OOS) order increased by 4.5 percent — the highest since 2014.
According to the FMCSA’s Analysis and Information Online portal, roadside inspections are examinations conducted by the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP) inspectors on commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) and/or drivers.
The MCSAP inspectors check CMVs and drivers to determine if they comply with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations and/or Hazardous Materials Regulations.
If serious violations are found during an inspection, the driver or CMV is issued an out-of-service (OOS) order. Violations should then be rectified before the driver or vehicle can resume normal operations.
The data from the FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Management Information System (MCMIS) revealed that false driver log violations rose by 4,420 to 41,058 in the fiscal year 2017.
The MCMIS information was last updated on October 27.
The FMCSA’s roadside inspection data showed that 4.4 percent of the fiscal year 2017 violations were due to falsifying logbooks.
The data also revealed the following:
Considering how the ELD implementation date is just around the corner, shippers should take the rising number of false log violations as a warning. They are encouraged by logistics and trucking executives to consider the hours available to drivers when carving out their transit times and shipping schedules.
With the FMCSA’s latest data revealing a 20 percent rise in the number of false driver log violations over five years, a former FMCSA official described the situation as “a false log epidemic.”
“I think false logs have been an epidemic, from the 1930s until right now.” said the former FMCSA investigator John Seidl.
Seidl, who now works as a transportation consultant with Integrated Risk Solutions, also said in the JOC Inland Distribution Conference on November 8 that the ELD mandate will reduce the daily driving time for drivers who constantly stretch their hours of service (HOS) by falsifying their logs.
Seidl added that truck drivers and haulers that have not yet installed ELDs “are most likely the biggest offenders in terms of false logs.”
The significant number of false log violations only underlines why the government was in the right direction when it pushed for the ELD mandate. With the help of ELDs, the trucking industry can address false or erroneous driver logbook entries, which has been a decades-long problem.
The final ELD rule is all set to take effect on December 18, 2017.
Meanwhile, the MCMIS data also showed that the number of citations issued to drivers for failing to keep their logs up to date went by 16.8 percent to 51,258. That number was a huge drop from the fiscal year 2014 when 90,604 violations were reported by the FMCSA.
The number of violations related to log keeping and HOS — including driving beyond 11 hours — also dropped, while citations for falsifying logs went up. It could not be determined, however, if the reported decrease in HOS violations is factual or whether the actual pattern is a result of log falsification.
The number of drivers that were issued a citation for failing to keep a log rose to 10.1 percent in the fiscal year 2017, after remaining the same for three years.
On the other hand, the inspection data showed that the overall number of log and HOS violations that merited more than 10,000 citations across America went down by 3.5 percent in the last fiscal year — from 441,262 to 426,026.
The FMCSA’s inspection data showed that the number has decreased in each of the last four fiscal years.
The comment made by the former FMCSA investigator, John Seidl, is quite telling.
If he views truckers who are without ELDs as “most likely the biggest offenders in terms of false logs,” it’s likely that other influential trucking personalities share the same opinion.
This negative perception can pose even more problems for fleets and owner-operators if road inspectors hold the same opinion as Seidl’s. Inspectors will likely be more critical when it comes to inspecting CMVs without ELDs.
Carriers should install compliant electronic logging devices as soon as possible. After all, the ELD mandate compliance deadline is less than a week away from now.