What is the ELD in Trucking?

Hopefully you have heard something about the ELD mandate from the FMCSA by now if you are currently in the trucking industry as it is no longer a “new rule”. This can affect the HOS or hours of service of all drivers from owner-operators to large trucking companies. However, If you are new to the business you may have questions. Whether you are a short-haul or long-haul driver, this mandate will affect you moving forward. Here we will take a look at what is the ELD mandate for truckers within the United States.

The ELD rule is a mandate put into place by the federal motor carrier safety administration and DOT that applies to motor carriers and truck drivers who are required to keep records of duty service, making it law to have an ELD or electronic logging device installed and operational in your truck at all times during your hours of service. The ELD devices are a digital version of the old paper logbooks that monitors and logs all kinds of data. Similar to the AOBRDs or automatic onboard recording devices, the ELD systems take it a step further in their capabilities and set an industry standard to abide by for commercial vehicles. You may also hear these systems referred to as e-logs. The information logged includes everything your paper logs would record and so much more.

The Mandate was phased in first with soft enforcement and allotment for exemptions on older vehicles then tightened up over time. All in all, you want to make sure that you know the requirements and follow them as this is a mandate enforced by law enforcement during roadside inspections and can greatly impact your business, even leaving you out-of-service, if you fail to comply. During these inspections they can examine the ELD system thoroughly checking reports such as your hours-of-service and records of duty status.

Benefits of ELD Mandate

FIrst off, you may be concerned about yet another expense you are required to have to be in this business, however, the benefits of real-time tracking to keep you in compliance with service regulations is worth the cost. Plus, as many companies are jumping into the market with this, the pricing can be rather competitive. Look, change is always hard to implement, not to mention for people to get used to. The truth is though, there are a lot of benefits of having ELD systems installed.

The ELD mandate, or ELD Final Rule, is a U.S. federal government regulation specifying that operators of commercial motor vehicles covered by this law will be required to use electronic logging devices, or ELDs.

These systems provide major conveniences while rather simple to use. Just the primary feature of not having to keep a physical record of duty status on paper that can be easily lost or damaged was a game changer of sorts. While frustrating to many who were used to the prior methods, this was in fact a step in a positive direction. The ELD system is able to accomplish this task and so many more automatically and efficiently, letting you focus more on your primary task, driving.

This automated convenience results in improvement factors such as safer roads and greater efficiencies now that such much data of the truck is accurately tracked and at your fingertips. They have even managed to reduce fuel costs, improve driver productivity, and provide safer roads overall.

ELD Required Paperwork

Truck driving comes with a lot of paperwork. Even though ELDs reduce the need for paper logs, they didn’t get rid of the paper completely. Truckers still need to keep hard copies of certain documents in their trucks to avoid dings during DOT inspections, including documents for the ELD. This is referred to as your ELD mandate paperwork.

According to the FMCSA website, there are 4 ELD documents drivers must keep in their trucks. Failure to produce these documents results in a 1-point hit each against the driver’s CSA (Compliance, Safety, Accountability) score. The point score goes up to 3 points per infraction if the driver is in noncompliance again within 12 months. The documents drivers must have are as follows:

  • ELD user manual

  • Instructions on how to transfer ELD data to an authorized official

  • Instructions on what to do if the ELD malfunction. This should include instructions on how to troubleshoot the ELD

  • 8 days of blank records of duty (RoD) graph-grids in case the ELD malfunctions

Who is Required to Have an ELD?

An ELD has proven to be a powerful tool for fleet managers. From tracking driving hours to overall fleet management. So, are all commercial drivers with a CDL required to have ELDs or electronic logging devices installed on their trucks? Well, not quite. The ELD system operates by connecting to the vehicle’s diagnostics port. There are three types of diagnostics ports used in vehicles which the ELD can be connected to, however, commercial trucks built in the model year 2000 and prior were not equipped with the ports attached to the vehicle’s engine making them incompatible for ELD systems to be installed. For this reason, those vehicles have been declared exempt from the mandate and are allowed to continue using paper logs for their records.

Other exemptions to this mandate by the FMCSA have been for the Motion Picture Association of America, The United Parcel Service, as well as the Truck Renting and Leasing Association. Truck drivers for these organizations fall under the exemption from the mandate in the trucking industry.