ELD Mandate – What Are The Basics?

Discover all you need to know about the ELD Mandate and its requirements. As with any new technology or regulation, there are many questions. We explain everything you need to know about the new regulation and what it means for your business.

What is the ELD Mandate?

The ELD Mandate is a bill that requires all commercial drivers to use an Electronic Logging Device (ELD) to log their records instead of the paper records some people use. The rule was finalized in 2015 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and initially required all drivers to be compliant by the end of 2017. The mandate also replaces the old Automatic On-Board Recording Device (AOBRD), and users of this system were also required to be ELD compliant by the end of 2019. The devices log driver activities and vehicle operation data. The ELD device creates and permanent record of the driver’s HOS (Hours of Service), which consists of driving time, hours working but not driving, and resting hours.

Background of the ELD Mandate

The U.S. Congress passed a bill in 2012 aimed at bringing surface transportation into the 21st century. The bill, known as the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, mandated the FMCSA to come up with a rule that requires all commercial surface transport drivers to use an electronic logging device.

Why The ELD Mandate?

The first federal rules requiring drivers to keep a record was introduced in 1937, and drivers manually wrote the required records into a paper logbook. This system is unreliable because it hugely depended on the honesty of drivers and fleet owners.

There have been several rules since the first rules were introduced, with each subsequent rule aiming to improve on the previous one. Most commercial fleet operators use AOBRD to record their driver’s trucking data. Those using this system must also make sure they meet the ELD Mandate requirements.

We all know that driving tired or on little sleep can lead to major traffic accidents on our highways. Driving for extended hours without significant rest can cause fatigue, which is a major cause of many deadly crashes on our roads. This led the authorities to restrict the number of hours a commercial driver can operate without resting. Drivers were required to record their driving hours in a logbook to make sure they don’t go above the restriction.

However, logbooks are not an accurate way to police drivers. They could enter inaccurate data accidentally or intentionally. Fleet owners could also put pressure on their drivers to manipulate entries. The ELD mandate aims to remove human error by logging driver and vehicle activities automatically. You will no longer be able to enter 6 hours of driving time in your logbook when you’ve been on the road for 12 hours non-stop.

Devices that comply with the ELD mandate requirements do the following:

  • Automatically record a driver’s HOS
  • Integrates and syncs with the vehicle’s engine to ensure the device records every minute the truck is driven.
  • Some devices can also send real-time or slightly delayed data back to a fleet manager so they can make sure their drivers do not violate the driving restrictions.

Modern electronic logging devices can record more than just the driver’s Record of Duty Status (RODS). They keep a record of a bunch of other data about vehicles in the fleet and their drivers – such as Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIR), driving style information (braking, speeding, idling, etc.), and International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) returns automation.

Some ELD providers also include navigation solutions into their systems, which let’s drivers easily avoid traffic and construction zones.

The benefits of Getting ELD Compliant

The ELD mandate is not just a means for authorities to accurately monitor the behavior of commercial drivers. It also provides benefits for fleet owners and drivers.

ELDs can deliver the following benefits:

  • Save the fleet owner money, time, and manpower by eliminating several manual tasks like paperwork.
  • Help fleet managers provide their dispatchers with up-to-date information on driver availability, which helps them be more efficient in load planning to meet HOS requirements.
  • ELDs can help you keep an eye on your driver’s driving style, so you know who is following your rules and who is not. This can even save you money on fuel and reduce transit times.

Can You Use Tablets and Smartphones for ELD mandate Compliance?

One of the aims of the ELD rule is to help drivers and fleet owners save money by considerably reducing paperwork. The FMCSA wanted to introduce a new trucking technology that does not place an excessive financial burden on fleets.

mobile device compliance

To make ELD affordable to all truckers, the FMCSA has agreed to allow the use of smartphones, tablets, and other handheld electronic devices as long as they meet the requirements of the mandate. Such devices can be used as long as they are hardwired to the vehicle’s engine computer system.

Fleet owners concerned about the high cost of some ELD providers may choose to use a smartphone or tablet for initial compliance.

Who is Required to be ELD Mandate Compliant?

In basic terms, you are required to be ELD compliant if you drive a commercial ground vehicle that requires you to keep HOS records. In more specific terms, this includes:

  • Commercial drivers who drive interstate and are required to maintain a Record of Duty Status (RODS).
  • Ground vehicles that weigh more than 10,000 pounds
  • Some classes of vehicles that carry more than 8 or 15 people.

The ELD rule offers exemptions for some classes of drivers and vehicles:

  • Drivers who record 8 or fewer days of paper logs in a 30-day period.
  • Drivers who operate vehicles manufactured before the 2000 model year.
  • Drivers of driveaway-towaway vehicles.

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