It’s been a long time since the ELD mandate was put into effect. Nowadays, almost all commercial motor vehicle drivers use electronic logging devices to track their service hours and comply with the regulations. While there are still debates about the impact of the ELD rule, it’s important to know that it’s a mandatory rule, and you must comply with it.
The rule is simple: every CMV driver or anyone else subjected to this rule must use ELDs to record their working logs. However, if you’re new to this industry, you may find it confusing. You might have questions such as, “Is it worth my investment?” “Do I need to comply with this rule?” “What happens if I don’t switch to ELDs?”
Whether you’re starting as a fleet manager or a commercial motor vehicle driver, it’s essential to learn about the ELD mandate. Otherwise, you and your fleet may face penalties, including fines and a reduction in your CSA score.
To get started, read this article. We have included everything you need to know about the ELD Mandate and ELD Compliance.
ELD Mandate- A Simple Explanation
ELD mandate is a federal law that asks every CMV driver to use an ELD to record their HoS. It is one of the changes held by the FMCSA of the Moving Ahead Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) of 2012. It was introduced in two phases to ensure that no one faces difficulty and complies with the rule.
It seeks to place existing methods of recording working hours, such as paper logs and AOBRDS. Why? Because they are inaccurate and can be falsified, leading to driver harassment. The rule seeks to replace these with more effective, accurate, and tamper-resistant electronic logging devices.
The ELD is tamper-proof and protects data from manipulation. It automatically records data from the engine and transmits it to the DoT. Any changes or edits are visible, and one has to give a reason.
The mandate also sets guidelines for the ELD vendors to follow to make their ELD complaints with the FMCSA. It implies not every ELD in the market has complied with the FMCSA and saves you from ELD violations & fines.
Timeline of the ELD Rule
|December 2015||Final ELD mandate draft presented to parliament, outlining guidelines for ELD vendors to prevent driver harassment.|
|February 2016||ELD mandate officially takes effect. The FM implements the rule in three phases for a smooth transition.|
|Phase One (February 2016 – December 2017)||FMCSA focuses on awareness and transition, promoting programs to inform about ELD benefits.|
|Phase Two (December 2017 – December 2019)||Owner-operators transition to ELDs from paper logs; AOBRD users make the switch within two years.|
|Phase Three (After December 2019)||Full compliance phase: ELD usage becomes mandatory for all owner-operators and truck drivers under HoS jurisdiction to record logs.|
What Was The Need Of The ELD Mandate?
Now the question arises, what was the need for such a law? Why did FMCSA take such exertion to implement this law despite such revolts? In the words of FMSCA itself,
“[FMCSA] announced the adoption of a Final Rule that will improve roadway safety by employing technology to strengthen commercial truck and bus drivers’ compliance with hours-of-service regulations that prevent fatigue.”
The overall motive of the ELD rule was:
- To create a safe environment on the highway
- Reduce driver fatigue
- Impose the HoS rule effectively
- Minimize road accidents
- Reduce casualties caused by road accidents
Why FMCSA Decided To Make ELD Compulsory?
AORBD and ELD are electronic devices that record HoS (Hours of Service). Learn the top HOS rules you must know.
In 2017, many truck drivers were using AORBD. And this is why it gave time for people to switch from AOBRD to ELD by the end of 2019.
But why did the FMCSA decide to make the ELD compulsory?
Whether you are buying an ELD for the first time or are looking for the best possible option to switch your existing one, Here we have curated a list of the 20 Best ELD Devices.
While AORBD and ELD have similar functions, the latter offers more advanced features. The ELD is also more reliable and meets all the requirements of the ELD mandate.
On top of that, ELD offers you several additional benefits that can help you to improve your fleet efficiency.
- AORBD and ELD record vehicle mileage, engine hours, location details, and duty status from the vehicle.
But only ELD displays driver information, vehicle status, and engine diagnostics. So if you detect any unassigned working hours, you can easily assign them to the respective driver using the ELD data.
- You cannot transfer the information to the inspection team with the AORBD.
On the other hand, you can transfer ELD data via telematics or local methods. And hence, save yourself from ELD violation under section 395.8A and the severity weight of 5.
- AORBD and ELD allow you to edit driving logs. But ELD makes the whole procedure clear and error-free. To change the record, the driver has to explain.
Also, when the fleet manager changes, the driver has the power to accept or reject the edits.
Additionally, here are some top benefits of the ELD over AOBRD:
- You can get driver information and their driving behavior with an ELD to improve driver safety in your fleet.
- ELD also provides a vehicle diagnostic so you can stay the upper hand with maintenance and avoid unexpected breakdowns.
- You can integrate fleet management solutions to your ELD and enhance your fleet operations and productivity.
How Does The ELD Rule Affect HoS?
As stated above, one of the motives of the ELD mandate was to implement the HoS rule effectively.
The ELD rule contributes to standardizing HoS. It records the HoS automatically and protects it from manipulation. While paper logs are easy to change, some can use them to work beyond their limits and earn more. But this results in fatigue that is dangerous for the person behind the wheel and others on the road.
ELDs not only provide accurate working hours and prevent false log violations done consciously but also protects drivers from crossing their working limits without knowing.
Some advanced ELDs, such as Matrack, send you real-time alerts when a driver is about to cross the working hours limit.
It also provides the remaining time of each driver in a fleet at a single dashboard. So the fleet manager can allocate tasks accordingly.
So in simple words, contrary to popular belief, the ELD rule made it hard for anyone to evade the HoS rule.
Who Is Exempt From The ELD Rule?
Before we jump into the exemptions of the ELD rule, let us take a look at how we must comply with the ELD rule first.
- Vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds
- Vehicles having a gross vehicle weight rating or combination weight rating of more than 10000 pounds
- Vehicles that transport 16 or more non-paying passengers
- Vehicles that transport nine or more paying passengers
- Vehicle transporting hazardous materials
The ELD rule applies to every commercial truck driver, bus driver, and motor carrier that falls under HoS and RODS jurisdiction. But there are certain exemptions. So if you fall under one of those, you may not have to stay in compliance with the ELD rule.
- Short-haul drivers
The truck drivers who operate -within 150 air-mile radius also fall under the exemption. Also, if you only have to maintain RODS for eight days, you will not have to buy an ELD.
- Drive away tow away operation
If you are driving a CMV as a shipment, you will not have to purchase an ELD. For example, a driver that delivers the truck from manufacturers to the shipping yard.
- Pre-2000 vehicle
Vehicle models of 1999 or earlier are also exempt from the ELD rule. Also, you will have to reconsider this exemption if your vehicle has a different engine.
For example, if the vehicle model is before 1999, but the engine itself is after 2000, you will have to buy an eld.
- Agricultural & Farm Vehicle
Vehicles used for agriculture purposes are ELD exempt. Livestock haulers also do not have to purchase an ELD unless they travel beyond the 150-air mile radius.
Even if you fall into ELD exemption with the ELD rule, you can switch to the ELD solution and avail benefits. Initially, it may look like an unnecessary cost for you, but in the long run, ELD will always help you to save money and improve profits in your fleet. On this note, let us see some of the benefits of ELD.
Costs Associated With ELD
One of the biggest concerns for any fleet manager is the cost associated with the ELD. The larger your feet are, the more you will have to pay. But do not let that stop you from complying with the ELD rule.
You need to understand the cost associated with the ELD and how much you can save by switching to ELD to make a good decision for your fleet.
The cost associated with the ELD:-
According to FMCSA, the average cost of an ELD is $41.25 per month for a truck. So if your fleet has ten trucks, you will have to pay $412.5 per month.
Surprisingly, you can find providers offering the same advanced features for a much less price. Some vendors provide devices starting from $15 per month.
Are you looking for an affordable and powerful ELD solution? Matrack ELD can be a choice for you. It offers free hardware with the lowest monthly subscription fees starting from $14.95.
Savings By Choosing ELD
According to a report by FMCSA, each driver can save up to $724 per year by switching to ELD. It is the result of cutting down the paperwork that stresses them and gives them time to earn more.
Here is the breakdown of this saving:
- Driver filling RODS – $504
- Driver submitting RODS – $58
- Clerk filling- $120
- Elimination of paperwork- $42
List Of ELD Violations
ELD violations can lead to severe consequences. Here are the top 5 ELD violations for you to know and avoid.
Not using an FMCSA-compliant ELD
There are several ELDs in the market. But not each of them can save you from ELD violation. You need to look for a device that fulfills the requirement of the FMCSA and is 100% registered with it.
Unable to share ELD details with the inspection team
If the drivers cannot share the ELD details with the inspection team during a roadside inspection, you will have to face an ELD violation.
Not carrying required papers
The FMCSA dictates drivers carry supporting documents on their journey. You will have to face violation charges if you cannot show them to the inspection team.
If you cannot detect a malfunctioning eld and switch to paper locks, you will have to face revolutions.
Fails to log in or out
If a driver cannot log in their day and log out after completing their day, they will have to face a violation under section 398.8A.
The display screen is not visible
If the display screen of the eld is not visible from the outside, the inspection team will charge you under section 395.20B.
Unable to assign unassigned driving time
A driver will have to face an ELD violation if they cannot assume or decline the unassigned driving time request.
Others are: failing to certify the accuracy of the log with signature or do not add shipping document numbers.
Fines Related To Violation Of ELD Rule
The main objective of the ELD rule was to improve road safety for drivers and others. And therefore, if caught violating this rule, they have to face severe consequences.
Let us take a brief glimpse of these consequences:
- Fines for ELD violations can range from $1,000 to $10,000. It varies on the severity of the violation.
- ELD violation can also hurt your CSA score. Check out the table below for more details.
- If you violate the rule continuously, you cannot drive for days. Additionally, you will also have to pay fines.
- Record of violation can downgrade your safety ratings and harm your CSA score. Overall, it is harmful to the reputation of your company.
- The inspection team can start a truck down for consecutive hours.
- If someone violates the regulations, they will face federal criminal penalties.
- In the worst case, you may have to shut down your fleet.
|Incomplete or Wrong Log Violations|
|No record of duty status||5 points|
|No record of duty status when one is required||5 points|
|Not using the appropriate method to record HoS||5 points|
|One cannot view the ELD display screen from outside||5 points|
|Using that is not registered with FMCSA||5 points|
|Failing to note ELD malfunction||5 points|
|False Log Violations|
|Failing to provide supporting documents||7 point|
|EOBR Related violations|
|Portable ELD not mounted||1 point|
|Drive fails to maintain ELD user manual||1 point|
|Drive fails to maintain ELD instruction sheet||1 point|
|Drive fails to show a supply of blank driver record||1 point|
|Drive fails to display a supply ELD instruction sheet||1 point|
|Other Log/Form & Manner Violations|
|Fails to make annotations||1 point|
|Fails to add location description||1 point|
|Fails to add file comment as per safety officers request||1 point|
|Fails to add CMV power unit number||1 point|
|Fails to add the trailer number||1 point|
|Fails to add shipping document number||1 point|
|Fails to select or deselect a unique driving category||1 point|
|Fails to certify the accuracy of information||1 point|
|Fails to follow the prompts from the ELD when information is missing or edit||1 point|
How To Avoid ELD Violations?
One of the common mistakes of any newbie in this industry is choosing a non-compliant ELD. There are so many cheap options out there. Hence, it is easy to get swayed by the price and go with an ELD, not complaint FMCSA.
You should consider your budget while getting an ELD but getting a non-compliant one will only increase your expenses. You will have to face ELD violations, and your investment will go in vain.
FMCSA asks drivers to carry the following supporting documents along with the ELD to comply with the ELD rule.
- Bills of lading, itineraries, schedules, or any equivalent
- Dispatch, trip, or equivalent records
- Expense receipts
- Electronic mobile communication records
- Payroll records, settlement sheets, etc.
- Data transfer manual
- Eld malfunction guide
- User guide
- Blank graph-grid paper logs
- Other documents
If your drivers cannot use ELD to log in or out of their duty status or share the data with the inspection team, you will have to face fines. And therefore, while choosing an ELD, get a device with a simple user interface. Several vendors also offer training to the drivers at minimum cost.
You can choose such a vendor to ensure that your drivers do not face difficulty switching to ELD from paper logs.
How Does the ELD Rule Benefit Fleet Owners?
• The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate ensures that drivers cannot overwork themselves and get fatigued while driving.
• The ELD system prevents drivers from manipulating their working hours to earn extra wages, promoting safety and preventing accidents on the roads.
• The ELD rule is a significant step towards creating a safe road environment for all and reducing accidents.
• The ELD system protects the fleet from unnecessary liabilities and reduces its Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) score.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: When did the ELD mandate go into effect?
A: The ELD mandate went into effect on December 18, 2017, for most carriers. Some carriers were granted a two-year extension to comply.
Q: Who is required to comply with the ELD mandate?
A: Commercial motor carriers that are subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) HOS regulations are required to comply with the ELD mandate.
Q: What are the benefits of ELD compliance?
A: ELD compliance can help carriers reduce paperwork, increase efficiency, improve safety, and avoid costly fines and penalties for noncompliance.
Q: What are the requirements for ELD compliance?
A: ELDs must meet FMCSA technical specifications, be registered with the agency, and be used by drivers to record their HOS.
Q: How do ELDs work?
A: ELDs are electronic devices that are connected to a vehicle’s engine to record data on driving time, engine hours, vehicle movement, and other data points required for HOS compliance.
James Johnson is a former truck driver who now works as a writer, specializing in the trucking industry. With over 15 years of experience on the road, James has a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities faced by truck drivers and the trucking industry as a whole. His writing focuses on issues such as safety, regulation, and the latest industry trends. His work has been featured in several trucking publications and he has received recognition for his contributions to the industry. In his free time, James still enjoys being around trucks and often attends truck shows and other industry events.