As December 18, 2017 approaches there are many elements of the ELD mandate that are misunderstood. One of those is the hours of service (HOS) supporting documents requirements for Electronic Logging Device (ELD) users. This topic is one of the largest contentions between the freight motor carriers and the FMCSA/DOT advisory body.
Here’s the story from both sides.
How Carriers Perceive ELDs and HOS Documentation
Several of the large and small carriers have pointed out to the FMCSA that providing supporting documents for ELD logging drivers is just as burdensome as paper Records of Duty Status (RODS) requirements. The FMCSA touted that with the introduction of the ELD Mandate a significant savings on paper & document Management. Yet some of the larger carriers like Fedex are stated:
“It did not believe that the supporting documents rule would create any paperwork relief. FedEx believed the proposed rule is burdensome and that the new requirement that carriers retain 10 supporting documents far outweighs the reduction of one paper RODS per day.”
That said, the FMCSA has been consistent in their response that the ELD will help monitor and collect data for on duty and driving status, yet the ELD still lacks the complexity to capture the information for drivers for other forms of duty status, so they still will require that support documents be kept by carriers for up to six months.
The FMCSA also states that no paper savings for supporting documents were figured in their saving numbers.
Yes, all electronic logging device (ELD) users are responsible for collecting and storing supporting documents for their digital RODS. The FMCSA did make a few changes to the rules for supporting documents that may be consider helpful in document collection and storage.
What the Law Says about Supporting Documentation
The new law states that the number of maximum documents for a 24 hour RODS period is eight and allows the driver thirteen days to get the supporting documents to the motor carrier after they receive them. These documents must be kept for six months and must be able to be attributable to RODS and meet the below criteria’s:
- Driver Name or Carrier Assigned Number ( Must be attributable to the driver in the RODS)
- Location (Nearest City, Town, or Village)
The Motor carriers are not expected to produce documents that meet the above criteria if they do not come about in the regular business practices of the motor carrier and its drivers. In the event that all these criteria’s cannot be met on all the document the first three criteria will be taken into consideration.
Commonly Used Supporting Documents for RODS
All of the below documents are the most commonly used in support of Record of Duty Status 24 HR period:
- bills of lading, itineraries, schedules, or equivalent documents indicating the origin and destination of a trip
- dispatch records, trip records, or equivalent documents
- expense receipts related to ODND time
- electronic mobile communication records reflecting communications transmitted through an FMS (e.g., text messages, email messages, instant messages, or pre-assigned coded messages
- payroll records, settlement sheets, or equivalent documents reflecting driver payments
- Toll receipts are considered a required supporting document for Paper RODS users
- drivers who continue to use paper RODS must retain all toll receipts, irrespective of the eight-document requirement
All supporting documents cannot be, defaced, destroyed, mutilated, or altered by motor carriers and drivers at any time.
What the New ELD Mandate Says about Supporting Documents
Now according to the ELD mandate drivers are not required to keep any supporting documents with them in the truck and cannot be expected to produce supporting documents that they do not have on their person or in their cab, during a roadside DOT inspection. But motor carriers are responsible for producing all supporting documents upon request from a DOT authority. It is important when selecting an ELD system that they have the ability to help organize support documents and make it relatively easy to connect documents through reference numbers our within their own document management database.
The ELD requirement does not give its users the ability to not collect and store supporting documents for all record of duty status. It is a requirement and should not be considered in your cost saving analysis when calculating your return on an Electronic logging device implementation. It is really important to understand the requirements and burden of the ELD mandate on every aspect of your RODS process going forward.
Educating yourself on the details of the law will help navigate your path to the right ELD provider partner.