Having been doing a few military loads lately, I had had good luck with gate procedures for checking in and getting on bases thus far. Out of the several I had been on lately, I think the longest I had taken to get clearance to enter any of them was 45 minutes tops. My luck would not last forever and when it ran out, I would ultimately find myself counting the last of the sands flowing through the hourglass on my ELD.
When I accepted a load coming from a base I had not been to before, I didn’t know this would end up being one of the nightmare stories I often hear about from other drivers I know. Having filled out pre-clearance forms the day prior, I just thought I would slip right in and slip right on out as usual. Quite to the contrary though, the background check on my squeaky clean record took 2.5 hours to come back so that I could finally get my badge to get on base. Being a job site pickup that was 30 miles into the base, I did not need added delay that was unplanned for. I had slated this round-trip run at a 12-hour day and knew this extended background check at the gate was going to have me right up against the 14-hour cutoff.
After 6 hours on base from when I got there until the moment I departed loaded, I now had just over a 3-hour drive to the receiver. After taking the time to unload, I was left with a total of 3 hours to get back to where I park at the end of the day, with Google Maps telling me it would take 2.75 hours to get there with traffic. Being evening rush hour, I was a little worried I would have one of those moments I hear other drivers talk about where they run out of hours just miles from home. By the time I got to where I needed to park the truck, I backed in and picked up the ELD to switch to “off duty” only to see a mere 4 minutes left on my 14-hour clock!
Prior to running compliant with the ELD mandate, I always aimed to run HOS compliant anyway. It is not as though I would “fudge” logs to aid in gaining extra hours, extra runs, etc. What people often fail to realize is that if you ran complaint before on paper, you should have no reason or trouble running compliant electronically. Although I would have been able to use a “safe-haven” or “16-hour” exception to get the extra few minutes over 14 hours had I needed it, I still like to keep my bar graph as tidy and exception free as possible, as to not raise any eyebrows during a log audit. Being the closest I think I have come to running out of hours since implementing my ELD, this served as a reminder to me that one unplanned hiccup can leave you with only precious minutes or seconds on you ELD clock when the timer is nearing its final countdown!