ELD Mandate Guide: Compliance, Standards, and Devices

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If you’re new to the trucking industry or have been away from it for a while, you may not be familiar with the ELD Mandate. In 2012 Congress passed MAP-21, the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act”. Fleets were given five years to achieve compliance by the end of 2017.

The rule mandates the inclusion of electronic logging devices (ELDs) in commercial vehicles, replacing paper logbooks. This mandate helps to keep the roads safer, and there are penalties for failing to comply. Here, we’ll explain the basics about the ELD mandate, including its origins, standards, and what companies must do to comply.

What Is the ELD Mandate?

The ELD mandate requires commercial vehicles to use an electronic logging device (ELD) in place of a paper logbook for Hours of Service (HOS) compliance. An ELD connects directly with a vehicle’s engine for more accurate and easier HOS recording and compliance. The ELD mandate is intended to improve driver safety, by improving compliance with HOS requirements. This mandate ensures that drivers are given appropriate breaks and helps to make our roads safer for everyone.

ELD Definition

An ELD is a device that connects with a commercial vehicle’s engine to record engine power status, vehicle motion status, miles driven, engine hours, identification of the user, and the user’s duty status.

ELDs are a subset of AOBRDs. An Automatic On-Board Recording Device (AOBRD) is any device that is used to accurately record a driver’s duty status information. This can include ELDs, EOBRs (Electronic On-Board Recorders), and other onboard devices. Fleet managers should be aware that not all AOBRDs record enough data to be compliant with the ELD Mandate.

History of the ELD Mandate

When Congress passed MAP-21, the bill required the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to institute an ELD mandate. The FMCSA published their final rule on the matter (what we now know as the ELD mandate) in December 2015. The first deadline for compliance was in December 2017 for companies not using ELDs at the time. This was considered a “soft enforcement” period until April 1, 2018 when “full enforcement” began. 2018 was the first full year during which the ELD mandate was in effect. Companies who were already using ELDs at the time that the mandate was passed have until December 2019 to ensure that their ELDs meet requirements.

ELD Requirements

In order to be compliant, there are several requirements for devices, drivers, and fleets or companies. Non-compliance with any of these requirements could result in penalties under the law, including fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 and will adversely impact CSA scores.

ELD Devices

Only devices approved by the FMCSA can be used to satisfy the ELD mandate. Sometimes, cell phones and mobile devices can work as long as they meet FMCSA requirements, including being connected with the vehicle’s engine for recording purposes. If you’re not sure if a particular device is ELD Mandate compliant, check the FMCSA Equipment Registration Portal. If you don’t yet have a login for the portal, there is also a searchable list of registered ELDs published by the FMCSA. 

Driver Information

In addition to information on the vehicle and its operation, ELD devices must record the driver’s data. It’s the responsibility of the carrier to make sure this data is reported accurately. Required data must include the driver’s name, a unique ELD username, a valid driver's license number, and the state where the driver’s license was issued. The driver’s social security number cannot be used anywhere in their ELD account for security reasons.

Record Keeping

Carriers are required to keep at least six months' worth of back-up copies of ELD data. That data has to be stored on a separate device from the one that originally recorded the information. Additionally, the driver must be able to access their own ELD records without needing to go through the motor carrier to obtain copies. E-logging, where the device transmits its data to a separate database or fleet management system, is very helpful for ELD compliant record keeping.

Driver Status

Drivers are required to record their status on the ELD. The appropriate status designations are:

  • OFF - off duty
  • SB - sleeper berth
  • D - driving
  • ON - on duty but not currently driving

Each time the driver’s status changes, the ELD must also record the driver’s location, designated by city and state. For locations not within any city or town, the highway number and service plaza or nearest milepost must be recorded, followed by the nearest city name. 

Automatic Recording

An ELD must automatically record the following data as a part of its regular function:

  • Date
  • Time
  • Location
  • Engine hours
  • Vehicle miles
  • User data
  • Vehicle identification data
  • Carrier data

ELD Exemptions

There are several possible ELD exemptions, including:

  • Drivers who use logs no more than 8 days in any 30-day period
  • Driveaway-towaway drivers where the vehicle being driven is the commodity or the vehicle being transported is a motor home or RV
  • Vehicles manufactured before the model year 2000, which may not have the ability to connect to compliant devices.

The FMCSA has also currently exempted the United Parcel Service, the Motion Picture Association of America, and the Truck Renting and Leasing Association.