Using ELD Data to Create Effective Policies
By: Kathy Close
We all know that ELogs have the ability to capture information that is used for purposes other than hours-of-service compliance. Many fleets use ELD (electronic logging device) data, for instance, to complete International Registration Plan (IRP) and International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) mileage reports.
As fleets consider how they can use their data to improve operations and improve efficiency, it also leads them to think about how the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) may use their ELD data. Specifically, some have wondered whether a driver could be retroactively cited for a speeding event based on the data in the ELD, perhaps uncovered at a roadside inspection or during an audit.
There is good news – According to an enforcement memo published by the FMCSA, the data in an electronic logging system is to be used only for hours-of-service enforcement, and not for enforcement of other rules, regulations, laws, or ordinances. Speeding would fall into this category. In other words, ELDs will not be used by FMCSA to enforce speed limits or other rules unrelated to hours-of-service.
Make the Most of It!
On the other hand, motor carriers should use ELD data to set policies.
A best practice for a motor carrier is to create a policy to address speeding detected in an ELD or support system. The best policies are ones that are simple, to the point, provide a measurement mechanism, and have “teeth.” A common safety management control establishes thresholds for average speed and high-speed incidents. The policy may include frequency, and maximum speed when it comes to high-speed incidents.
When writing a policy, remember that you are not explaining every possible situation. You are simply laying down your expectations, what you will and will not allow, and what will happen if the policy is not followed. The details on how you are going to comply, what you are going to do to make sure everyone is complying, and all the other details related to the policy will be in the procedures that back up the policy. Simply stated, the policy needs to be something that is easily remembered. The procedures are where all of the details reside.
The thresholds could be based on what your vehicles are set to operate at and the speed limits in your operating area. Once the thresholds are validated, you will need to look at your current driver data. You want to make sure you have not set them too high or low initially.
The final step with any policy has nothing to do with developing it. Any policy you write must be circulated, trained on, used, enforced, and updated or removed. To address this, you need to build in an “automatic review” process. The process should force someone to look at each policy and the associated procedures at regular intervals. The policy should be reviewed for accuracy and relevance. If the policy is not accurate, not current, not being used, or not being followed, a decision needs to be made. Do we update the policy, start over with a new one, or do away with it completely?
Consider what ELog data you have and how you could use it to create meaningful policies that improve efficiency and reduce risk. For more guidance, download our ELD Policies and Procedures – The Foundation for Success Whitepaper.