Training Truckers on Technology


Training Truckers on Technology

Drivers will soon need to log their time electronically. Is your delivery crew prepared?

On December 18, 2017, all commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers who are currently required to complete paper logs must switch to an electronic logging device (ELD) to record their hours of service. This congressionally mandated rule, which is being implemented by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, is a significant transition for CMV drivers. In response, the SBCA Carolinas chapter recently hosted a presentation by the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) on ELD enforcement. The event included a roundtable discussion for fleet managers.

“This is a big rule change that has the potential to affect every one of us,” said Dave Green, chapter president and general manager of Carolina Structural Systems. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there, and we thought this would give us a chance to hear the facts and get answers to anything we felt was unclear before the rule goes into effect.”

Here are five key ELD best practices component manufacturers may want to focus on:

Invest Heavily in Initial Training

Jon McCormick of the NCDOT started his presentation saying, “My primary advice to every company I talk to is, focus on training your drivers. This is a big shift, and there can be a steep learning curve. Don’t expect every driver to embrace the technology quickly or at the same pace.” His recommendation is to hold regular trainings focused on the fundamentals of the new system until everyone is comfortable using it.

Provide Handy Resources

Every driver will eventually become comfortable using the ELD to record hours of service. However, remembering how to access little-used functions, like downloading driver logs for an enforcement officer to view, can be a challenge, especially if it’s during a stressful roadside inspection. One fleet manager indicated his company put laminated instruction pages in each truck for drivers to follow as needed.

Commit to Ongoing Training

Recording hours of service is a relatively minor responsibility compared to the many other tasks drivers have on their plates. Scheduling regular trainings over the next year can be an effective way to refocus drivers on important ELD requirements and share best practices that will become more abundant in the market as drivers across the country use these systems.

Embrace the Technology

McCormick stressed the ELD technology should eventually make everyone’s life easier. “The biggest advantage is you can’t misplace log books anymore and the data can be accessed in real-time. This will be a powerful tool for fleet managers.” He suggested companies should keep data records for six months and then delete them. He also recommended companies provide drivers smart phones to enable a more powerful interface with their ELDs.

Encourage a Focus on the Fundamentals

“I can’t stress the pre-trip inspection enough,” said McCormick. “If your drivers are catching the little things before they hit the road, they’re less likely to get pulled over where the more significant violations can be discovered.” For the component industry in particular, McCormick stressed load securement. “Insufficient strapping or improper placement of straps will get your truck pulled over every time.”

Brian Haynes, fleet manager for UFP Mid-Atlantic, said, “We’ve been preparing for this change for the past two years. As a company, we’re doing everything we can to be proactive and ensure we don’t get caught off guard by anything.” Haynes said he still found McCormick’s presentation very helpful. “They continue to tweak the rules and adjust their guidance. Events like this help you stay on top of it.”

About the Author: Sean Shields has been managing editor of SBC Magazine since 2010 and is also director of communications for SBCA. He has focused on helping CMs grow market share since joining SBCA in 2004.