The Electronic Logging Device Mandate
The ELD rule was congressionally mandated in 2017 to help the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) accurately track and manage records of duty status (RODS) and hours-of-service (HOS) data.
Under the rule, all drivers must have an ELD in their vehicle, which will synchronize with the vehicle’s engine and automatically record driving time. To set up your ELD account, you will be required to enter your drivers’ license number and state of jurisdiction that issued your license. Once your account is set up, you will not be required to enter this information for daily reports.
All commercial drivers (with a few limited exceptions) who are required to prepare HOS and RODS reports must comply with the ELD rule. The rule includes specific ELD performance and design standards and requires certification and registration of each model with FMCSA, so be sure you are using an approved device.
The ruling went into effect in 2017, with the following compliance deadlines:
- December 18, 2017-December 16, 2019: required use of ELDs unless an Automatic On-Board Recording Device (AOBRD) was installed before December 18, 2017
- December 16, 2019: required use of ELDs by all drivers
You must understand and be able to use an ELD by the required deadline, including annotating and certifying RODS, collecting required documents, and how to display and transfer data to safety officials upon request.
The rule also defines what constitutes harassment of drivers regarding ELD data or connected technology and provides recourse for drivers who believe they have been harassed.
REQUIRED DOCUMENTS AND DATA REPORTING
Effective December 18, 2017, all drivers and carriers are required to retain supporting documents as verification of HOS compliance. As a driver, you must submit your supporting documents and RODS to your motor carrier no later than 13 days after receiving them.
Your carrier is required to keep up to eight documents from the following five categories for each 24-hour period you are on duty:
Each document must contain your name or carrier-assigned ID number, date, location, and time.
Your carrier is required to retain original ELD information for at least six months and must ensure the information is properly stored to protect your privacy. You may request access to the information for a period of six months.
Additionally, you must carry an ELD user’s manual, instruction sheets for transferring HOS records to safety officials, reporting ELD malfunctions, and procedures during a malfunction, and at least an eight-day supply of paper tracking forms to be used in the event of a malfunction.
WHO IS REQUIRED TO HAVE AN ELD AND WHAT THE EXCEPTIONS ARE
Under the ruling, all commercial drivers who are required to prepare hours-of-service (HOS) records of duty status (RODS) are required to have an ELD by December 16, 2019. The rule applies to commercial buses as well as trucks, and to Canada- and Mexico-domiciled drivers.
There are limited exceptions to the mandate, which are outlined below. However, drivers must note that anyone who is exempt from the ELD mandate is still bound by the RODS requirements, and must prepare logs on paper, using an (AOBRD).
- Drivers who use paper RODS for not more than 8 days out of every 30-day period.
- Drivers with vehicles manufactured before the year 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.
WHY THE ELD MANDATE WAS CREATED
According to the FMCSA, the ELD rule was created primarily to help improve roadway safety. With more than 3 million drivers on the road today, the FMCSA predicts that approximately 20 fatalities and more than 400 injuries can be prevented each year by reducing driver fatigue that is often the result of inaccurate HOS logging.
Additionally, the FMCSA hopes to encourage a safer work environment for drivers, and enable faster and more accurate tracking, management, and sharing of RODS data and HOS recording. By eliminating the paper reporting method, the FMCSA hopes to greatly increase adherence to safety and compliance standards.
The FMCSA also states that the rule is intended to increase productivity and save costs within the trucking industry through reduced paper expenses, decreased fuel costs, reduced truck downtime and lowered crash rates.
While it may seem that this rule was implemented quickly or without much history leading up it, there have actually been many actions and regulations within the industry indicating that this could eventually become the standard.
The first ELDs were used by motor carriers in the mid-1980s – although the technology was much less advanced than it is today and transmittal of data was difficult and unreliable.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) began lobbying for an ELD mandate in 1986, and two years later AOBRD regulations were introduced.
By 2000, the FMCSA had made their first attempt at an ELD mandate, but it was rejected by a court order in 2004. A second attempt was made in 2010, this time allowing the FMCSA to enforce an ELD mandate for carriers with the most egregious HOS violations.
In 2012, U.S. Congress passed the MAP-21 Act (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century), which required the FMCSA to develop a rule for mandating ELDs along with a study of the best implementation methods and how to reduce risk of driver harassment due to ELDs.
The final ELD mandate was published on December 16, 2015.