What to do after a traffic accident

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No one wants to think about having an accident with one of their commercial drivers, but do they know what the plan is in case it happens? Having solid procedures in place will help you and your driver keep your cool and navigate the post-accident issues.

Standard disclaimer: The following is not legal advice and you should consult with your attorney or legal department before implementing any changes in your current policies

Organization

Staying organized before an accident will really pay dividends later on. Ideally you should have answers to all the following questions:

  1. Who is the point of contact to talk to authorities?
  2. Does the company have a safety policy?
    1. What is it?
    2. How is it enforced?
  3. Where are the vehicle maintenance records? Driver records?
    1. How long should the records be kept?

Planning

Drivers

If your drivers don't have a plan, that is a plan for disaster. Keep your drivers and your company in aware of your post-accident plan so it doesn't come as a surprise.

  1. Make the scene safe - move to the side of the road if possible
  2. Call 911 - alert the emergency services
  3. Provide aid (if it is safe to do so) - help all injured parties
  4. Contact dispatcher - inform them of the accident
  5. Don't take photos - generally not a good idea, and besides, authorities will take plenty
  6. Cooperate with authorities
    1. Refrain from specifics as you will likely be emotional
    2. It is okay to say "I don't know"

Office

To keep things running smooth back at the office, make sure you have a game plan if a driver calls to let you know they were involved in an accident.

  1. Appoint a contact person - handle communications with authorities
  2. Don't talk to the media - inform your staff of this policy
  3. Contact legal representation - let your lawyer know what is going on
  4. Contact insurance company - open a case, even if you don't think you need it
  5. Preserve records - driver logs, time cards, vehicle inspection reports, etc.
  6. Keep communication open - keep everyone up to date on what is going on

There are a lot more we could add to these lists, however this should be a starting point for a converstation with your staff and your legal representation as to what works best for your business.

 

    What to look for GPS OBD hardware for your fleet

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    While there are a lot of things to think about when talking about your fleet, the hardware you choose to pair with your fleet management software is probably a low priority. I mean it's just a commodity at this point, right? Well, the real answer is that it is a little more complicated than that.

    Management

    In the past, the user was responsible to setup and configure each GPS device to talk to the fleet management server and were on their own if there were connectivity issues. These days there are more options like a cloud solution where the hardware is preconfigured before shipment and all the data, firmware updates and debugged are managed for you. While this means you will spend less time troubleshooting and maintaining servers, it will typically cost you more for these services. Ask your provider if these are included in the monthly or annual subscription fee.

    Integration

    Something to look for is if the vendor has an API in order for other applications like your fleet management software to access the data. APIs allow software to integrate with one another and share the same data. This way you can choose your routing software and fleet management software to both use the same location data. Ask your vendor if they offer an API and what other software can use the data from your hardware.

    Looking inside the cab, are you looking to expand beyond basic GPS tracking like hooking into the engine data for fuel use, diagnostic trouble codes and safety alerts. Many devices now also integrate with in-cab ELD tablets for electronic driving logs, timecards, driver workflow and other productivity applications.

    Technology

    As you may know, there are big changes coming on the wireless data front as major carriers and MVNOs are shuttering legacy cellular technology like GSM (3G) and CDMA (1x RTT) for the newer LTE network. This means the millions of OBD GPS devices out there now will need to be swapped out for the new network called CATM1 LTE before the end of 2019.

    This new network has been designed specifically for Internet of Things or IoT (also called M2M) devices to allow low power and low data costs with excellent network coverage and long service life.

    Lifetime cost

    While this is last on the list it is often asked first, how much does it cost? That might not be the best question, perhaps a better way to look at it would be what investment are you willing to make on an annual or monthly basis for properly functioning data collection. You will need to factor in the expected lifetime of the hardware, ask your vendor how long the warranty period is and what will it cost to service outside of warranty. Some vendors even have a lifetime warranty for the hardware as long as you are subscribed to the service. Taking the unit cost and dividing it over the number of months of expected useful life will give you a better idea of system costs as a whole.

    If you have questions for your fleet or are looking for a CATM1 LTE OBD GPS device to integrate with your fleet management or routing software, contact our solutions team to see if CarmaLink would be a fit.

    CSA Severity Weights for ELD Violations

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    Severity weights have been assigned to electronic logging device (ELD) violations that will effect a driver's or motor carrier's safety profile score (CSA).

    On the CSA's website, the FMCSA stated that any of the ELD-related hours-of-service infractions written up will be added to safety measurement system scores.

    The weighting ranges from five (5) points for having no ELD to one (1) point for failing to make annotations on the log when applicable.

         As of April 1, 2018, violations related to electronic logging device regulations found during roadside inspections are being used in the SMS,” the agency said in a web posting. “These violations are not being applied retroactively; violations recorded prior to April 1, 2018, will not be counted in SMS. Motor carriers that have received ELD-related violations will start to see them reflected in their HOS Compliance BASIC in early May 2018 when the next monthly SMS results are released.

         A complete list of the ELD violations and their severity weights is available in the SMS Appendix A spreadsheet, located here

    DOT Inspections in the era of ELD

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    Knowing what you have in terms of ELD and how it works is paramount if you want to get through a DOT roadside inspection. Here are a few quick tips.

    1. Understand what technology (AOBRD or ELD) is in your truck and be able to articulate that to the inspection officer
       
    2. Be able to explain to the officer how the system works and what method of log inspection is applicable (electronic transfer or visual)
       
    3. Finally, make sure you have all the other requirements for your system on hand like backup paper logs and user manual for the device

    Follow these steps and your next DOT driver log inspection should be smooth sailing.

    If you still aren't comfortable, you aren't alone as there is lots of confusion about this law, please contact us for more information about what your fleet needs to stay on the road.

    Staying ELD Compliant after April

    Source: FMCSA Website

    If you have been looking to get your fleet up to date with the ELD ruling before enforcement begins in April, make sure you check the FMCSA website for a list of registered ELD solutions.

    The new ELDs are not quite the same as older 'AOBRD' devices available last year and you will want to ensure you replace any broken AOBRD devices with the new ELD standard to stay compliant with the new law.

    If you feel that it would make sense to make the upgrade to your fleet, contact our solutions team to answer your questions.

    ELD Rule Now in Effect

    Since Dec. 18th, the implementation of the required Electronic Logging Device (ELD) final rule is in place and now, all vehicles and drivers that were previously required to fill out paper log books are required to have either a grandfathered AOBRD (Automated On-Board Recording Device) or an ELD. No hours of service rules were changed because of the ELD rule.  

         FMCSA has issued the following limited exemptions/waivers from the ELD requirements. Several other waivers and exemptions are currently under consideration. 

    • A limited exemption to United Parcel Service from some of the technical requirements for which their portable ELD has an alternate means of compliance, allowing their business operations to remain efficient.
    • A waiver was issued allowing drivers of rental trucks to operate without an ELD for up to 30 days for the next 3 months. After that, an exemption has been issued to driver to operate without an ELD for 8 days or less. 
    • A limited 90-Day waiver from the ELD requirement for those transporting Agricultural Commodities, as defined in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, which includes livestock.

         To ease the transition to ELDs, FMCSA's partners at the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance have previously announced a delay in placing non-ELD compliant vehicles out-of-service until April 1, 2018, which will allow continued time for carriers and law enforcement to adjust to the new technology.       

         FMCSA has also announced that violations cited during the time period of Dec. 18, 2017 through April 1, 2018 will not count against a carrier's Safety Measurement System scores.

    Three common E-Log misconceptions

    It is not surprising that drivers, fleet owners and law enforcement officers are still a little unclear about the new e-log law. Here are a few common misconceptions we hear from fleets.

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    Do I have to print out a paper copy of logs from my e-log device for roadside inspection?

    If you are using an approved AOBRD or ELD system in your truck, you are not required to print out your logs. However, if you are using a non-AOBRD e-log system, law enforcement officers can request that you produce a printed copy of your RODS.

    Under the new ELD mandate, drivers will be required to transfer the logs digitally using local file transfer (not allowed in all jurisdictions) or web service.

    Since I downloaded an e-log app I am all set, right?

    You have to be very careful that the app is part an approved AOBRD or ELD system. Apps alone cannot meet the requirements in Part 395. A good rule of thumb is that if the app is free and doesn't require any hardware to use, it isn't compliant.

    My trucks only operate during daylight hours so I don't need e-logs

    Sorry, this is not an allowed exemption by the FMCSA from implementing e-logs.

    Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) FAQs

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    Here are some answers to common questions we hear about how driver vehicle inspection reports are really supposed to work.

     

    Who is responsible for filing DVIRs?

    The driver is responsible for filing the DVIRs and the driver or the commercial repair facility is responsible to certify repairs completed on the motor vehicle.

    What information is required in the report?

    Along with the carrier name and DOT number, the driver must list the vehicle defects found as well as whether the vehicle is satisfactory to drive or not. The driver’s signature is required to certify the report along with any remarks.

    Where should DVIRs be stored?

    Previous DVIRs may be kept at either the motor carrier’s principal place of business or the location where the vehicle is housed or maintained. The current DVIR should be kept in the motor vehicle.

    When should DVIRs be filed?

    A DVIR should be filed when a pre-trip or post-trip inspection reveals a defect.

    The driver must prepare a DVIR at the completion of each day’s work and shall submit those reports to the motor carrier upon his/her return to the home terminal. Reports should be stored for at least 3 months.

     

    Check out the FMCSA's website for more detail with the link below.

    ELOG FAQ - Who is exempt from ELD?

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    Are you required to upgrade to ELD? The DOT has summarized some of the important exemptions you may not be aware of.

    Drivers who use the timecard exception are not required to keep records of duty status (RODS) or use ELDs.

    Short-haul drivers who aren't required to keep logs aren't required to upgrade to ELD and can continue to use timecards as they do now. Other drivers who are not required to use ELDs:

    Drivers who use paper RODS for not more than 8 days out of every 30-day period.

    Drivers of vehicles manufactured before 2000.

    Drivers who conduct drive-away-tow-away operations, where the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered, or the vehicle being transported is a motor home or a recreation vehicle trailer with one or more sets of wheels on the surface of the roadway.

    If you don't see your exemption listed here, no need to worry. Upgrading your logs to a digital driver log solution comes with many benefits, like easier tracking of IFTA miles, highway use taxes and automatic toll verification.