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Trucker’s Guide to the ELD mandate

Back in 2012, President Obama signed the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century bill, essentially modernizing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA.) and requiring the FMSCA to issue an Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate.

Trucking fleets were given 5 years to adapt to the ELD mandate which effectively replaced paper driver logs, which have been required since 1937.

What is an ELD?

An ELD is a device that connects with the engine of a commercial rig to electronically log a trucker's hours of service requirements.

Why were ELD's mandated?

ELD's were mandated because unfortunately, drivers and fleet managers did not take the official hours of service rules seriously. Not all of course, but many drivers were found to flout the rules designed to give proper rest to the driver. With an ELD, such flouting of the rules is minimal.

What does an ELD track?

An ELD is designed to record data such as engine power status, vehicle motion status, miles driven, engine hours, identification of the user, and the user’s duty status.

What exactly does an ELD record?

An ELD Records:

  • Whether the driver is on or off duty
  • Whether the driver is in a sleeping berth
  • Whether the driver is on duty and driving
  • Whether the driver is on duty but engaged in activities such as completing
  • paperwork or loading and unloading the truck.
  • The identity of the driver through a log-in
  • The driver's location by city and state, or if not in a city, identifying information such as the highway number and the nearest milepost.

What are acceptable ELD Devices?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has an extensive list of ELD's certified by their manufacturers to meet the FMCSA rules.

The device must be able to track the vehicle miles, engine hours, date, time, location, vehicle ID, driver data, and carrier information automatically.

Are there exemptions?

Yes. For example, vehicles built before 2000 are exempt. Drivers whose routes go no further than 100 may use timecards. Tow away vehicles are exempt, as are RV's. Also, freight vehicles which travel no more than a 150-mile radius are exempt.

Are there fines for non-compliance?

Yes. The FMCSA can find a carrier or independent operator significantly. The average violation costs a carrier or independent operator $2,000, although fines, particularly for hazardous vehicles or passenger carriers can be much more.

One very good reason why a carrier or independent operator must make sure their vehicles have the proper truck repair. If the ELD fails to report the proper information through faulty or ignored truck repair, the FMSCA can ground the vehicle and the driver.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, the ELD requirement is a great leap in safety for long-haul truckers, and ensuring that drivers get the proper rest required has already resulted in far fewer accidents on the road due to overtired drivers.