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Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs): Everything you need to know to be compliant

The media market is flooded with articles directly related to the topic of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs).  ELD Vendors, magazines, transportation consultants, insurance professionals, and trade associations all have their own takes on what to expect. There can be a lot of information to crawl through and many of these publications have their own agendas. The following article will clarify a few myths and set the record straight on electronic logging device compliance.

1. There is no difference between on-board recording devices – FALSE.

Actually there are two different kinds of on board recorders identified in the FMCSRs:

  • Automatic On-Board Recording Devices (AOBRD)see 395.15
  • Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) – see 395.20

There are also some fleets that use “electronic logging software” that help drivers track their HOS.  Although FMCSA does not prohibit their use, neither of those systems can take the place of Automated On-Board Recording Devices (AOBRDs) or ELDs.  

2. Motor carriers need to install ELDs immediately – FALSE.

  • Motor Carriers have until December 2017 to install either an Automatic On-Board Recording Device (AOBRD) or an Electronic Logging Device (ELD).
  • Motor Carriers have until December 2019 to install an ELD.
  • AOBRDs will not be permitted after December 2019.   
  • Logging software programs will be not be permitted after December 2017.  These devices are used to prepare records of duty status (RODS), but these computers, tablets, and smartphones may not meet FMCSA’s requirements for AOBRDs or ELDs.


3. I’m concerned that the roadside inspector will not be able to read ELD records.

Although ELDs must be able to transmit HOS information to enforcement officials’ portable computers through various methods (wireless Web services/email, USB2.0 and/or Bluetooth), they are still required to provide an on-screen display of the driver’s sequence of duty status entries or a printout.  

Bottom line: For those inspectors who use portable computers to review HOS records, ELDs will provide more information and can make the inspection more efficient and effective for the inspector – and for the driver.  For those inspectors who do not use portable computers, they will be able to use the same basic processes they use now with AOBRDs to view the information at roadside.  

4. Will the roadside inspector have to go into a truck cab to read an ELD?

No.  ELDs must make available a printout OR it must be able to be viewed by roadside officer via a display, without entering the CMV.

5. ELD Providers certify their own ELDs.

Correct.  There is a self-certification process whereas the ELD provider registers and certifies their ELD devices.  Upon this self-certification, FMCSA will add them to the website of “REGISTERED ELDS.”  FMCSA will only remove devices, after the fact, if determined to not meet ELD standards, following specific procedures outlined in the ELD Rule.  One must realize that it is possible to have a device on the list of REGISTERED ELDS, only to find out later that it does not meet the ELD requirements.  Protect your capital expenditure, research your device thoroughly!   

6. AORBRs and ELDs are fail-safe; they cannot be falsified.

Incorrect.  Even though AOBRDs and ELDs can provide very accurate driving time and location information, the driver must enter other categories of duty status and required remarks.  You still must carefully check the records.  Among many things to monitor, a more common issue relates to an unidentified driver (ie. vehicle movement with no driver logged onto the device.)  System providers often describe this activity as unassigned miles, miles without hours, unknown driver, etc.  A company must effectively monitor such activity, along with other potential non-compliance issues as well.      

7. Who is exempt from the ELD Mandate?

  • Those not required to complete a record of duty status as outlined in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) for MORE THAN 8 days during any 30 day period OR
  • Driveaway-towaway operations OR
  • CMV before Model Year 2000:  FMCSA spokesperson Duane Debruyne had this to say: “The rule is tied to the model year of the commercial motor vehicle, as evidenced by the [Vehicle Identification Number] VIN.”  The model year digit in a truck’s Vehicle Identification Number is the 10th digit in the 17-digit sequence. X indicates a 1999 model year, Y a 2000, in North American standard format.
  • Intrastate applicability will vary from one state to another.   

8. What happens when the ELD malfunctions?

  • The driver must re-construct the log immediately OR
  • Possess logs printed and signed from the ELD system OR
  • Access log from the ELD in the CMV
  • In addition, ELDs must be repaired within 8 days OR be granted an FMCSA extension. Make sure the ELD provider you choose can accommodate this requirement!

9. There is no incentive for a carrier to install ELDs before a requirement forces them to install ELDs.

Many advantages exist for early installers of ELDs. First and foremost being the positive impact on CSA scores. Remember, all companies in your CSA peer group for HOS are eventually moving toward full ELD implementation. The more companies that do so before you will inherently see a net reduction in CSA HOS points over the two year calculation period vs. those that wait. In all, any motor carriers that wait until December, 2017 to install will have to wait two full years for all paper log book violations to fall from the CSA scoring system. Early adopters will see a significant CSA benefit based on this fact versus those who wait.

For more information on electronic logging devices and how to ensure your drivers remain compliant, contact one of transportation risk management agents today.