TMCnet Feature
December 18, 2019

What is the ELD Mandate?



An Electronic Logging Device (known as ELD or E-log) is used for recording a driver’s Hours of Service (HOS). The device can track a driver’s off and on-duty time automatically. Plus, it comes with features to represent a vehicle’s engine, mileage and motion status. ELD mandate is designed to ensure road safety of commercial motor vehicle drivers. It helps to reduce the number of vehicle crashes, and are implemented and supervised by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). However, FMCSA works with an association of the US Department of Transportation (DoT). The administration speculates that driver fatigue is one of the biggest reasons for the increasing number of road accidents. Moreover, commercial drivers are motivated to install ELD on their vehicles. Hence the mandate came into being.




In the early stage, drivers used to keep paper logs to maintain hours of service (HOS) and records of duty status (RODS). Using paper logs tempts drivers to commit unfair means to fabricate their duty status. To prevent this problem, in 1988, on-board recording device such as Automatic On-Board Recorder (AOBRD) was introduced to drivers who maintain RODS. AOBRD helped drivers in reducing the hassle of paperwork. Nevertheless, it did not change the essence of paper logs. In 2012, through the United States Congress’ enactment through the MAP-21 bill. MAP-21 bill provisioned FMCSA to mandate the use of electronic logging devices as known as ELD. Thus, ELD came into the limelight. ELD is the updated version of AOBRDs. Both devices require a connection to the Electronic Control Module (ECM) part of the vehicle. If required by law enforcement, ELD can display log edit history whereas AOBRDs cannot. Hence, ELD can also point out unassigned driving time accurately. Moreover, through ELDs, the data can be reported to FMCSA through web services or email. AOBRDs do not have features like that. The first deadline for the implementation of ELD devices in commercial motor vehicles (CMV) has passed on the 18th of December,2017. The final deadline ELD mandate compliance is on 16 December 2019.

However, there are rules for using electronic logging devices (ELD or E-log) under Section 32301(b) of the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Enhancement Act, enacted as part of MAP-21, (Pub. L. 112-141, 126 Stat. 405, 786-788, July 6, 2012), which mandates the ELD rule. Generally, the secretary of the department of transportation (DoT) is responsible for supervising the adoption of regulations regarding ELD usage in vehicles for interstate trade and commerce. All the drivers operating such vehicles need to maintain records of duty. Hence ELD installment is inevitable.

The rules of ELD usage are described below:

  • The ELD rule requires ELD use by commercial drivers who are required to prepare hours-of-service (HOS) records of duty status (RODS).
  • The rule sets how ELDs should be designed, and it requires ELDs to be certified and registered with FMCSA.
  • It establishes what supporting documents drivers are required to keep.
  • The rule forbids harassment of drivers based on ELD data or ELD related technology (such as fleet management system). The rule also provides recourse for drivers who believe they have been harassed.

As previously mentioned, ELDs are mandatory to be installed in most commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) as drivers of these vehicles need to maintain RODS. On the contrary, there are also exceptions where several commercial vehicles are exempt from installing the device. The exemptions are mentioned in the following:

  • Drivers who conduct ‘drive away, tow away’ operations are exempt from ELDs where the vehicle itself is the product being delivered.
  • Vehicles that have engines made before 2000 do not require ELDs to be installed.
  • Drivers that perform short hauls within 100 miles air radius.
  • If Drivers performing short hauls breach short-haul limitations. they need to keep paper records of duty status for a short amount of time limit. The limit is not more than 8 days out of 30 days.

Moreover, drivers of vehicles that do not require a commercial driver's license (CDL) to operate carriers within 150 miles air radius of their office headquarters are also exempt from installing an ELD.

According to the HOS, drivers are allowed to drive a maximum of 11 hours during their on-duty time of 14 hours. The rest of the hours is a cool-off period where the truckers must take 10 consecutive hours off-duty. After the mandate was issued, there was an outcry from commercial drivers based on which FMCSA has proposed some amendments in HOS rules based on ELD use. However, Samsara is one of the best companies that provide ELD compliance solutions to help prevent HOS rule violations other complications regarding ELD.

However, as the time went, the commercial drivers felt there should be some upgrades regarding the existing system, and the FMCSA has proposed amendments to the current mandate:

1. Truckers can take a 30-minute break when they are on duty, for instance, if they are waiting at warehouses for a shipment — but not while driving. If there is a chance that the driver is on the road for long hours, he/she can take a breather after 8 hours of uninterrupted commute.

2. They will be able to divide their 10-hour off-duty time. Instead of having a full 10 hour time off, a portion of 7 consecutive hours will be allocated as the “sleeper berth” period. The rest of the time will be allotted to 2 consecutive hours, either as “off-duty” or “sleeper berth”.

3. On the condition that a trucker takes 10 full hours off duty at the end of their shift, he/she is allowed to go for an off-duty break of 30 minutes to three hours. This would put a pause on a truck driver's 14-hour driving spell.

4. An extension of 2 hours will be issued if there are unpleasant driving conditions present. Conditions such as snow, fog, hail, or unusual road/traffic conditions, will provide time and leeway.

5. For the case of short-haul drivers, there have been some interesting changes too. The on-duty duration can stretch from 12 hours to 14 hours, including, the distance from 100 miles to 150 miles.

The usage of ELD brings benefits that knows no bounds. It tracks drivers’ HOS, is integrally synchronized with engines through which we can know, miles are driven, and engine and vehicle motion status. Additionally, the driver gets rid of paperwork and the report is done digitally and automatically to the employer. The amount of data and report fabrication comes to zero percent with ELD. Apart from RODS related service, the employer of the vehicle driver can get a piece of up-to-date information about the driver’s status. Thus, ELD abridges the employer and driver on the same side and eradicates the communication gap between them.


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