Think You’re Covered from an ELD Harassment Lawsuit?
The FMCSA defines harassment as an action by a motor carrier toward one of its drivers that the motor carrier knew, or should have known, would result in the driver violating hours of service (HOS) rules in 49 CFR 395 or 49 CFR 392.3. These rules prohibit carriers from requiring drivers to drive when their ability or alertness is impaired due to fatigue, illness or other causes that compromise safety.
To be considered harassment, the action must involve information available to the motor carrier through an ELD or other technology used in combination with an ELD. FMCSA explicitly prohibits a motor carrier from harassing a driver.
How does the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule address harassment of drivers using ELDs? The ELD rule has provisions to prevent the use of ELDs to harass drivers. FMCSA explicitly prohibits a motor carrier from harassing a driver, and provides that a driver may file a written complaint under 49 CFR 386.12(b) if the driver was subject to harassment.
A few ways your ELD helps you stay complaint and free from harassment lawsuits:
- Use written communication as much as possible. Most ELDs have Dispatch or Text features that allow the office and the driver to communicate. Eliminate to the extent possible miscommunication, (dispatch says they told me this, I know they told me that). Your ELD should record each communication for review at a later date, as needed. Also, train your teams that any communication over the ELD can be used in court, always remain professional.
- Clearly show your drivers and dispatchers daily and weekly on duty time and driving time available. Clearly show sleeper berth and off duty time remaining. Dispatchers need to choose the driver with enough time left to safely and legally complete their trips and should never interrupt their sleep time with questions or notifications. The ELD should keep these important times up to date for review at a moment’s notice. Be sure drivers take their required 30 minute breaks. Resting helps avoid fatigue and is required by law.
- Use YARD MOVEs to legally track time and miles driven while off of public roadways, in the yard to save drive time through the week. Often drivers call dispatch trying to get home short of hours. Be proactive and save as much drive time as possible and make it home without violations.
Many in management and drivers too, are feeling like they are all in a tight spot trying to comply with the new rules. Let your ELD help you get in front of issues and move your team forward decisively.