No more fudging on motor coach driving hours. No more unscheduled stops. No more last minute itinerary changes. New mandated Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) on commercial coaches may impact student travel. Here’s what you need to know.
Although the hours of service (HOS) regulations for the motor coach drivers has not changed, the monitoring and reinforcement of those federally mandated hours has, and there's no compromise. A new rule requiring the use of ELDs on commercial motor vehicles became enforceable on December 18, 2017.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has mandated that motor coach operators and drivers use ELDs to track driver’s hours rather than use paper records.
So, if during a trip the driver is approached by an inspection officer, the driver must make the ELD display visible to the officer, so the officer can confirm adherence to the driver hour limitations.
While this change will improve motor coach travel safety, it will limit travel flexibility for your student travel group. In the past, as unexpected delays or situations arose, the driver might extend his or her hours to get the tour to its final destination. With electronic logging, that won’t be possible.
A positive benefit of using ELDs is that they help drivers stay legal. Often passengers want the driver to add an additional place or event that was not on their original itinerary. With an ELD, the driver can show the group leader how much time he has left to drive, alleviating an HOS issue. Although this flexibility may be frustrating, drivers should not be viewed as uncooperative or unwilling. They must abide by the ELD.
Also of note for student group leaders and passengers, this new enforcement guards against harassment of drivers. Specifically, the rule prohibits passengers 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.
The FMCSA hours of service rules are designed to eliminate the type of drowsiness that can lead to crashes. Let's keep students safe. Think of it as the 15-10-8 Rule.
- A motor coach driver may not drive after having been on duty for 15 hours.
- A motor coach driver may drive up to 10 hours
- But only after 8 consecutive hours off duty.
Being on duty is defined as being in the coach. For example, a driver may take their student group to a park after ten hours of driving. As the group is in the park, this driver would have only up to five hours to stay with the motor coach. A substitute would need to relieve them before driving the student group anywhere else.
So, more than ever, pre-departure communication with your Director's Choice travel consultant is crucial to understand how new ELD’s will affect your motor coach travel and limit on road frustration and confusion as well as keep passengers safe.
For more ways to keep your traveling students safe, download our FREE Risk Management E-Book.