ELD Survival & More

This year is about to end and 2018 is just around the corner. There are two items that I want to cover that are very important this month – a new division of NTA and ELDs. Here at NTA, we have always focused on banding individual truckers and smaller trucking companies together for better service and lower rates, and we have always tried to be a positive and informing entity in the industry. Established in 1990, NTA is a Transportation Benefits Organization (TBO) which helps provide, maintain and enhance the quality of life for Independent Truck Drivers and their families with information and advice on products, services, compliance, health and personal finance necessary for them to succeed.

With quality of life in mind, we are proud to announce a new insurance division called NT Insurance Services, or NTIS for short. This new agency is going to be our specialty agency. It will provide NTA with specialty programs over and above the normal coverage that other insurance companies provide. The first thing NTIS is going to bring to the table are medical options. Now that ObamaCare is basically done, we are going to do our best to bring to our membership various health, dental and vision plan options. Right now, depending on what state you’re in, we are looking at rates that contain some really low-cost premiums. Stay tuned!

Since Christmas is almost upon us, here is our gift to you – if you ever wanted a benefit or service that we don’t already offer to you or your family, now is the time to speak up and let your voice be heard. I am asking you to email me (wayne@ntassoc.com) the things you want NTA to offer. We truly listen to our 10-4 readers and our members, so send your “wish list” of benefits and services to me as soon as possible. To see a list of our current benefits and services, visit www.ntassoc.com.

If you are a small carrier or owner operator, now is the time, if you haven’t already done so, to deal with the impending Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate. Assuming nothing changes in the next few weeks, December 18 is the start date of the mandate, and with it the trucking industry will go through one of its biggest transformations since deregulation began in the early 1980s. The change is coming fast, so here are a few tips to help ensure that you and your business aren’t left behind in the process.

It is estimated that about a million trucks still don’t have an ELD installed. That means there will be a big push at the last minute to purchase these devices and get them set up. There may not be enough ELDs to meet the big spike in demand, and you know what happens when demand increases – prices go up. Avoid an ELD shortage and price gouging by getting compliant as soon as possible. The NTA endorsed “KeepTruckin” package keeps you compliant for just $20 per month with fast delivery. Once you get the device, it only takes a few minutes to install.

The electronic logbook rule doesn’t change the hours of service rules, but you will probably have to start using two duty statuses – “Yard Move” and “Personal Conveyance” – that you didn’t use before. That’s because now, whenever the truck is in motion, the ELD is activated. In the days of paper logs, the driver probably would’ve just left a yard move off, and no one would’ve batted an eye. But now, when the driver moves the truck, even if it’s just backing up to the dock, it’s going to be recorded. Train your drivers to mark those as “Yard Moves” in their logbooks. Learning how to take advantage of the “Personal Conveyance” rule will also be key to protecting your drive time. You have to meet three criteria to qualify for the personal conveyance exemption: 1) the driver has to have been relieved from work and all work-related responsibilities; 2) the vehicle must only travel a short distance; and 3) the vehicle can’t be loaded with any freight.

FMCSA has left the second part vague, so it might be a good idea for carriers to create their own policies for what qualifies as a “short distance” and include that as part of being relieved from work. For reference, in Canada you can’t travel more than about 50 miles. So, if a driver is leaving a receiver and heading to a hotel, he or she can select “personal use” on the ELD and the driver would be considered off-duty. The same is true for leaving the hotel for a restaurant, or the driver’s commute between a work location and home (unless the driver has been dispatched from home – in that case, the driver is considered on-duty).

An owner operator who runs the spot market sometimes needs to be ready to improvise, adapt and overcome obstacles that could derail a successful delivery. Getting held up by a shipper for three or more hours to get loaded can cause missed delivery appointments. Sometimes drivers can camouflage these issues in hopes of never having to deal with the repercussions of a failure to deliver, but ELDs will highlight time management problems throughout our industry. But, with an ELD, “Don’t tell the broker” will soon be replaced with “The driver is out of hours.”

Letting the broker know immediately when you’ve been delayed is a good start to fixing the problem. The broker might be able to reschedule your appointment for the next available date and time, or maybe not. Some drivers might hesitate because the broker could decide to call another carrier who has the hours and take the load away from them. This could also create difficulties in collecting detention fees or truck-ordered-not-used (TONU) pay, though, if the owner operator never got started with the load. This is why the sooner you let the broker know the better, before even more of your driving time gets wasted.

Although some think there is a grace period for enforcement of the mandate, that is not the case. The FMCSA announced that it won’t place vehicles out of service until April 1, 2018, if they’re found without an ELD, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to be compliant until then. Beginning December 18, 2017, you will still receive a citation for not being compliant with the mandate, even though the vehicle won’t be placed out of service – and you can get cited every time you’re asked to produce driver logs. This will affect your CSA score and your ability to do business. After April 1, if found out of compliance, you can be placed out of service.

Most of you are not happy about this new mandate, and I don’t blame you. But, unless you want to jeopardize your business and your livelihood, I suggest you comply as soon as possible. If you need help or advice about this or any other compliance issue, visit the NTA website at www.ntassoc.com or give us a call at (800) 805-0040 – we are here to help you succeed!

About Wayne Schooling

Wayne Schooling has been in the transportation business since 1962. Starting out as a driver, Wayne later made the switch to management. Over the years, he has accumulated 22 various awards and honors, been involved with 6 professional affiliations, has spoken at several lectures, and earned 3 professional diplomas. Wayne, who has written for 10-4 Magazine since 1994, is currently President Emeritus of the NorthAmerican Transportation Association (NTA).