ELD Creative Writing: 8 Ways Data May Be Manipulated
Whenever you get into a discussion about Hours of Service and the process of filling out a log with a seasoned long haul driver, you will undoubtedly hear the process referenced as creative writing. The pressure to keep the log book legal along with meeting the sometimes harsh deadlines inherent to trucking creates the environment where fudging the logs has become almost a required skill to some.
The ELD Mandate is the FMCSA’s answer to the creative writing taking place with paper logs. According to Dave Gray, President of Glostone Trucking Solutions, “ELD’s will make fudging more difficult but not impossible. It won’t take drivers long to figure out how ELD data can be manipulated.”
The functionality of an approved ELD is very specifically outlined by the FMCSA. How an ELD provider accomplishes the functionality will vary between manufacturers. Based upon the required functionality, here are 8 ways ELD data can be manipulated that carriers need to know about to prevent future violations. Be aware of drivers:
1. Failing to log in
ELD functionality requires a driver to log in using a unique identifier. The truck will still move without anyone logging in. The driver simply fails to log in and the distance is recorded as unassigned driving time on the back end.
2. Logging in with someone else’s password
Not protecting the login information between drivers of the same company could lead to drivers logging in as someone else. Perhaps that someone else is on vacation or on leave of absence.
ELD functionality must include a method for a company to allow their drivers to use personal conveyance if the company chooses to do so. When in the personal conveyance mode, the ELD will not record it as driving time. Drivers pushing the edge of their drive time window will be tempted to use personal conveyance as a method to stay within their allotted hours and finish their day.
4. Using yard move mode
As with personal conveyance, ELD functionality will include the ability to record yard moves if the company chooses to do so. Operating the vehicle in the yard move mode will also not record the time against the drive time window.
5. Unplugging the ELD device
Many ELD manufacturers will advertise their systems as “plug and play”, meaning installation is as simple as just plugging the ELD in. If the ELD is simple to plug in, it will be equally simple just to unplug the device. When unplugged, nothing is recorded.
6. Claiming the ELD is broken
The ELD mandate states that if an ELD breaks down, a driver is to, using paper logs, recreate the current and past 7 days of logs and then continue using paper logs until the ELD is fixed. By rule, the company is given 8 days to get the ELD fixed. In a tight spot, drivers could claim a broken ELD and then creatively write the past 7 days of logs on paper to give themselves more driving time.
7. False editing
ELD functionality will automatically record driving time and driving time cannot be edited. Sleeper berth, on-duty and off duty time is managed through driver interaction with the ELD. Editing time spent within these duty statuses by the driver is allowed.
8. False annotations
The FMCSA considers any false manipulation of ELD data to be the Carriers responsibility to catch and enforce consequences. Carriers without the internal controls and/or concern to monitor and correct false ELD manipulations may find themselves in an expensive audit situation that can include fines, penalties and out of service orders.