Transportation Compliance and What it Means for Fleet Managers

Commercial drivers and fleet operators must comply with a number of regulatory requirements. These have strange acronyms and may seem burdensome, but in reality they largely can codify good business practices that aren’t difficult to implement with the right tools. In this post we’ll explain these acronyms, explore some of these regulations, and see what fleet managers need to do for compliance.

Who makes these rules?

Acronym Guide – general transportation regulations

AcronymWhat it stands forDescription
US DOTUnited States Department of TransportationA federal Cabinet department started by Congressional Act that has overseen transportation since 1967
FMCSAFederal Motor Carrier Safety AdministrationAn agency in the US Department of Transportation that regulates the trucking industry to reduce accidents
CMVCommercial Motor VehicleRegulated vehicles used on highway for interstate commercials – typically large trucks and busses
FMCSRsFederal Motor Carrier Safety RegulationsRegulations covered by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

Vehicle and driver rules don’t come out of nowhere. In most cases they are funded by Congress and regulated by the US Department of Transportation (US DOT). The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration within the DOT regulates large trucks and busses. FMCSA does not cover everything though – generally off-road and heavy-duty construction equipment is not subject FMCSA regulation.

Driver Logging with ELD

Acronym Guide – driver time logging

AcronymWhat it stands forDescription
HOSHours of ServiceFederal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations that specify drive duration and break duration rules
RODSRecords of Duty StatusA mandated time log kept by a driver to record driving time and rest periods to ensure they comply with Hours of Service requirements
AOBRDsAutomatic On-Board Recording DeviceAn electronic device that interfaces with the vehicle help record a Driver’s Hours of Service specified under an older ruling
ELDElectronic Logging DeviceA recent requirement mandating that Hours of Service logs kept by drivers that keep Records of Duty Status, log their entries electronically on a compliant device or smartphone app

A tired driver is more likely to have an accident, so it is no surprise that that DOT FMCSA sets rules for monitoring how long a driver can go without rest. Until recently, drivers either kept these records on a piece of paper or electronically with the assistance of an Automatic On-Board Recording Device (AOBRD) – a devices that interfaces with the vehicle under a rule passed in 1988. More recently the FMCSA established mandatory electronic logging requirements. Devices that comply with these requirements are called Electronic Logging Devices. ELD rules allow some AOBRDs to be grandfathered in, but generally ELDs are newer devices that plug into the vehicle follow the new rules. These ELDs usually include a complementary mobile app the driver can use to see and display the log information.

The Deadline for ELD went into effect on December 18, 2017. Grandfathered AOBRD devices must be replaced with ELDs by December 16, 2019. This means that Fleet Managers need to make sure their regulated vehicles have a tracking device installed.

Fleet Managers can combine ELD data with vehicle telematics information. Telematics can provide useful safety data such as when speed limits are exceeded that can be inputted into a driver safety score card systems. Together, these electronic records can be used to reward good performance and monitor for issues.  In addition, new driver harassment policies place clear liability on dispatchers who knowingly tell their drivers to violate HOS rules. A good system will help not only the drivers, but the dispatchers too to help reduce liabilities for the operator.

Vehicle Inspections with DVIR

Acronym Guide – vehicle inspections

AcronymWhat it stands forDescription
DVIRDriver Vehicle Inspection ReportsFMCSA rules that require drivers perform a formal inspection of the vehicle at specified times in their shift and log these results

No one should drive an unsafe vehicle. DVIR regulations help to verify vehicle safety by mandating regular inspections. Drivers must report issues and sign-off on repairs. Fleet operators must address issues and log repairs. An electronic tracking and check-list system, like the one offered by Tenna, can be used to help coordinate data entry by the driver and review by the fleet operator. Vehicle telematics data can be included in this database to help identify subtle malfunctions that might be missed during normal inspections.

In the end, a proper DVIR system helps both the driver and the operator by preventing expensive and dangerous break-downs.

Vehicle Inspections with DVIR

Acronym Guide – vehicle inspections

AcronymWhat it stands forDescription
IFTAInternational Fuel Tax AgreementInternational agreement between the lower-48 states in the US and all Canadian provinces to simplify fuel use reporting for tax accounting purposes.

IFTA is a little different from ELD and DVIR in that is not a DOT FCMSA requirement or driver compliance requirement at all. However, logging fuel spend and travel routes is often a company requirement to help with fuel tax accounting. IFTA is setup to accountants at tax time and reduce driver paperwork. Every state has its own fuel tax rates. Rather than the paying each state individually during a given trip, IFTA simplifies this system so long as mileage is tracked by state.

Fleet managers can automate their IFTA data entry with specialized programs for recording fuel purchases and leverage GPS data to determining tax jurisdictions. This simplifies life for the driver and makes fuel tax reporting easy in the back office.