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The ELD (electronic logging device) mandate is a requirement issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) as an amendment to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs). All commercial vehicles meeting certain requirements are now required to comply with the ELD mandate as of December 2019. According to the FMCSA, “The ELD Rule applies to most motor carriers and drivers who are required to maintain records of duty status (RODS). The rule applies to commercial buses as well as trucks.”

The ELD mandate, also known as the ELD Rule, aims to create a safer working environment for drivers and make it easier to document, track, manage and share records on a driver’s records of duty status (RODS), such as Hours of Service (HOS) logs and Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIR) by requiring the use of electronic logging devices.

What are ELDs?

What Information Do You Need on ELDs?

Screenshot via FMCSA

ELDs are synchronized with a vehicle’s engine to automatically record the driver’s on-duty and off-duty time. The driver can review and certify the records, making annotations if necessary, and on request, the recorded HOS data is transferred securely to a safety official for review, with potential HOS violations flagged.

ELDs replace handwritten logs, which are prone to driver error and inaccuracy. They improve accountability for drivers and carriers, ensuring that drivers take the required breaks and comply with HOS regulations to avoid fatigue, resulting in safer roadways.

What Information Do ELDs Record?

Electronic logging devices record more than just the driver’s duty status, including:

  • Engine power status
  • Vehicle motion status
  • The number of miles driven
  • Total engine operating hours
  • Information identifying the motor carrier, vehicle, and driver or authorized user

Some ELDs offer additional capabilities, such as GPS tracking, document organization features, and communication features that enable drivers and carriers to communicate directly.

What Information are Drivers Required to Have on ELDs?

In addition to the data collected by a vehicle’s electronic logging device, drivers are required to have certain information related to ELDs in their possession, including:

  • A manual with operating instructions for the ELD
  • Step-by-step instructions for transferring data from the ELD, including HOS data
  • Written procedures for managing and reporting ELD performance issues
  • Paper HOS logs for the previous 8 days

Carriers are responsible for providing the required materials to their drivers when ELDs are purchased, and drivers are responsible for ensuring they keep all of these materials in their possession while operating a vehicle.

Hours of Service Rule Changes May Impact Some ELDs

What Information Do You Need on ELDs?

Screenshot via FMCSA

The HOS requirements restrict drivers to 60 to 70 hours of duty over a period of 7 to 8 days. Property carrying drivers are limited to driving a maximum of 11 hours after 10 consecutive hours off-duty and may not drive beyond the 14th consecutive hour after coming on-duty. Passenger-carrying drivers are limited to driving a maximum of 10 hours after 8 consecutive hours off-duty and may not drive beyond the 15th consecutive hour after coming on-duty.

Updates to the HOS Rule went into effect on September 29, 2020, including changes to the short-haul exception, adverse driving conditions exception, allowing the 30-minute break requirement to be satisfied by an on-duty, non-driving break, and a sleeper berth provision allowing drivers to split their off-duty time in different ways, provided it totals 10 hours. While these updates don’t impact the minimum requirement for ELDs, they may impact drivers or carriers utilizing ELDs that identify hours of service violations. While ELDs are not required to have this flagging feature, some ELD manufacturers offer it as a standard or add-on feature. If these ELDs are not updated to reflect the new rules, they may inaccurately flag HOS violations.

Logging Requirements for Short-Haul and Adverse Driving Conditions Exceptions

Drivers operating under the new short-haul exception are permitted to keep a time record instead of using an ELD. These records must include the driver’s time in, time out, and total number of hours for each day. For new hires or drivers used intermittently, the total time for the 7 preceding days must be recorded. These records must be kept for a minimum of 6 months. If a driver drives too far or for too many hours and is no longer eligible for the short-haul exception, the driver must complete a regular log or use an ELD for that day.

Under the new adverse driving conditions exception, drivers can drive for up to 2 hours beyond the regular driving limits if they encounter unforeseen adverse driving conditions that affect their route. Adverse driving conditions are now defined as, “snow, ice, sleet, fog,
or other adverse weather conditions or unusual road or traffic conditions that were not known, or could not reasonably be known, to a driver immediately prior to beginning the duty day or immediately before beginning driving after a qualifying rest break or sleeper berth period, or a motor carrier immediately prior to dispatching the driver.” Drivers must annotate their use of the exception on their electronic logging device. If a roadside officer can prove that there were no adverse driving conditions, the driver will be cited 49 CFR 395.3 or 395.5.

It’s imperative for owners/operators and carriers to stay up to date on the latest regulations and requirements for the use of ELDs and records related to hours of service and ensure that all the required data is recorded and maintained. You can sign up to receive updates on ELDs from FMCSA when new information to ensure you don’t miss important information.

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