The ELD Mandate: Everything You Need to Know

What do you know about the electronic logging devices (ELD) Mandate? Essentially, this mandate, instituted in December 2017, asks that printed requirements now be in an electronic format. The transition to a new technology poses many challenges to commercial trucking companies, and not all are pleased with the change.

The ELD mandate should help prevent dishonest and inaccurate records. And because the ELD mandate contains legalese and may be confusing, we have provided the following information to help you gain clarification on the ELD mandate.

Why is there a Mandate?

Without the ELD mandate, many drivers may be persuaded to exceed their hours of service (HOS) and drive much longer than they should. Whether they need the money, or are worried about losing their jobs, they might drive when they are beyond exhausted, which increases the chances of an accident.

ELDs eliminate paper logs, and they record driver duty status and HOS information. ELDs are tamper-resistant, so the recorded data is unable to be altered. Thus, the mandate is necessary.

  1. 1
    Former ELD requirements needed to be updated, since there was evidence that carriers had misused the devices to set up, and harangue, truck drivers. New accountability measures were necessary.
  2. 2
    The previous ELD standard had been put in place because the fleets were not in compliance based on a regulation for electronic on-board recording devices (EOBR). It was later rescinded mostly because some trucks were not obligated to track HOS.
  3. 3
    Current ELDs monitor and record data provide numerous data involving driver behavior and vehicle status, including idling, speeding, and hard braking, which broadens initial reports.
  4. 4
    To reduce paperwork, fleets and drivers use automatic on-board recording devices (AOBRDs).
  5. 5
    According to FMCSA's rule 395.15, these AOBRDs must automatically record driver duty status, changes in status, and when the vehicle is operating. In addition, drivers must present their AORBD display to law enforcement (when requested) for current use and seven days prior.

What is the ELD Mandate?

What is the ELD Mandate

The FMCSA created and enacted the ELD mandate in December of 2015. The mandate is also known as the Electronic Logging Device Rule. A logbook regulation comes to life to alleviate concerns over HOS. Additionally, it mandates electronic devices to be used to record a driver's Record of Duty Status (RODS).

ELDs and AOBRDs accomplish the same tasks. However, ELDs are not quite the same as AOBRDs. Basically, AOBRDs are electric devices that meet the HOS requirements, but they are antiquated because their requirements are the same as paper logbooks of the past. ELDs are the new technology.

Who Does the ELD Mandate Affect?

Mostly, the mandate affects commercial motor vehicle drivers, including interstate drivers who must log and maintain their RODS. Every driver who previously used a paper log is affected. The stipulations are as follows:

  1. 1
    Drivers who operate vehicles weighing more than 10,001 pounds.
  2. 2
    Drivers with vehicles that have placarded hazmat loads.
  3. 3
    Drivers with vehicles (depending on the class) that carry more than 8 or 15 passengers.

Which Drivers are Exempt from the ELD Mandate

  1. 1
    Drivers who operate within a 100-air mile radius.
  2. 2
    Driveaway and towaway operators, and drivers with a non-commercial license who operate within a 150-air-mile radius.
  3. 3
    Drivers with trucks manufactured before 2000.
  4. 4
    Drivers with commercial licenses.

Which Provider Should I Choose?

  • Dozens of ELD providers are available for you, but they are not all the same.
  • Be sure to choose one that will keep you in compliance.
  • ELDs can provide information, data, and insights to show you how to improve operations.
  • With the right ELD, you should be able to reduce costs, streamline operations, automate tasks, reduce administration needs, and increase profits.

Which Features Should I Look for?

  • GPS tracking
  • Log auditing
  • Messaging
  • IFTA Reporting
  • Idle-time Tracking
  • Vehicle diagnostics
  • Driver scorecards
  • KeepTrucking alerts

Basic Exemptions

  1. 1
    Drivers who have used paper logs fewer than eight days in one month.
  2. 2
    Driveaway or towaway drivers if the vehicle they drove is the commodity or when the vehicle is a motor home or RV trailer.
  3. 3
    On a case-by-case basis, some livestock trailers are exempt.

Quick Facts

In 2012, the United States Congress enacted the "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century" bill known as MAP-21. The bill outlined the criteria for highway funding included a provision that required the FMCSA to develop a rule mandating ELDs.

The ELD records a driver's RODS, replacing a paper logbook. Both keep drivers in compliance with HOS. While fleets had until December 2017 to implement certified ELDs, fleets already equipped with electronic logging technology (AOBRDs) before December 2017 were grandfathered in, and have until December 2019 to make the transition.

United States Congress

Comparing ELDs with AOBRD and EOBRs

  • Each device electronically tracks HOS.
  • Each device needs to be "integrally synchronized" with a truck engine, so each drive segment is captured.
  • These devices pass data to a system so a safety or fleet manager can see the e-logs in near real-time, keeping everyone in the loop.

ELDs Can Complete the Following Tasks

  • Reduce paperwork.
  • Help drivers remain in compliance regarding HOS by keeping the dispatcher in the loop regarding driver status.
  • Make the transition from paper logs to ELDs, boosting efficiency.
  • Implement smartphone and tablet technology to keep them in compliance with FMCSA requirements.

Basic Requirements of ELDs

  1. 1
    Must connect to the truck's engine when it's in motion.
  2. 2
    The driver must be able to log in and choose on-duty, off-duty, and on-duty but not driving.
  3. 3
    Able to provide at-a-glance display status, so the driver knows how many hours he or she has driven in a day.

What's in it for Me?

Although transitions may be bumpy, there is a very good reason for the ELD mandate. Driver fatigue is one of the main reasons to embrace the ELD mandate. It's widely known that driving for long periods of time, even with breaks, takes a toll on the driver.

An exhausted driver is more likely to have an accident. Because of this simple fact, restrictions placed on driver hours became necessary. Documenting driver hours is a strategic way to make sure he or she is getting enough rest and not being overextended.

ELD mandate

The ELD mandate requires commercial drivers to track their HOS with the ELDs because their records are more reliable than paper logging. In addition, all approved ELD vendors must be registered on the FMCSA website. 

There is an immediate cost-benefit, and ecological benefit because paperwork is greatly reduced. ELDs provide fleets and drivers with affordable technology in the way of smartphones, tablets, and handheld devices. Truck engines also include hardwired connections.

Why ELDs are Suitable for Drivers

  1. 1
    ELDs provide clear, concise records, which enable inspecting officers to review and approve quickly.
  2. 2
    Less paperwork is required, so drivers can return to the road faster.
  3. 3
    ELDs provide a more accurate record than the paper logs. And incorrect records can wrongfully harm a driver's reputation.
  4. 4
    ELDs warn a driver who may be close to exceeding his or her driver hours, which can help them stay in compliance.
  5. 5
    The ELD mandates state that HOS is programmed to remind a driver when there's still time to pull over at a safe landing.
  6. 6
    ELDs record an entire performance, enabling drivers to use their high marks for employment elsewhere, and raises or promotions in the current company.
  7. 7
    ELDs document driver behavior before an accident, enabling them to reconstruct accidents, and defend themselves in a possible lawsuit.
  8. 8
    ELDs can alert emergency crews to the exact location and condition of the truck.

Further Benefits

  • The ELD mandate should save time and money for the commercial trucking industry.
  • An estimate by the FMCSA states that the average truck driver fills out about 240 RODS annually.
  • There should be decreased downtime and increased safety for drivers and fleet management teams.
  • Drivers that use ELDs show lower crash rates, because they can monitor their hours and operating logs.
  • Fleet owners hope to reduce fuel costs and increase fuel efficiency.

While ELD devices help avoid deliberate and unintentional HOS violations, they also help drivers avoid possible fines incurred by inaccurate paper logs. In addition, there is often confusion when it comes to details and requirements.

Besides taking the time to review our list, we also recommend your taking the time to read the mandate. Although the mandate is long and full of legalese, we suggest reading the bullet points.

A Few Last Words

To manage startup costs that occur with HOS compliance systems, a fleet may implement the use of a smartphone or tablet ELD. In addition, because businesses and various communities have readily adopted smartphones, it's hardly a stretch for truck drivers to see them as an integral part of their daily work.

An additional benefit of truck drivers adopting mobile devices is that the device enables them to leave the cab of the truck. Keep in mind; we have created an extensive list. It's up to you to decide which tasks are most relevant for you and what you think might be most effective. Slow and steady wins the rest. Best wishes!

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