The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released their final ruling making the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) for the commercial truck and bus industries mandatory in December 2015. This final rule was issued with several objectives–to enhance road safety, give compliance strength, and safeguard commercial drivers. During the Awareness and Transition Phase that was two years from the publication of the ELD rule–February 16, 2016 to December 18, 2017–the drivers and vehicles subject to the rule could utilize any of the following for the Record of Duty Status (RODS): paper logs, logging software, AOBRD (Automatic On-Board Recording Device), or ELDs.

The drivers and motor vehicles who were subject to the ELD mandate were to start using the devices by the compliance date, which was December 18, 2017, unless they were using the previously used gadget, the Automatic On-Board Recording Device (AOBRD). But after December 16, 2019, all the drivers and motor vehicles subject to the rule will have to use certified and registered ELDs that comply with the ELD regulations. According to FMCSA estimates, the ruling will affect about 3.1 million Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs) and 3.4 million drivers.

Understanding ELDs

An electronic logging device (ELD) is a gadget that attaches to a commercial motor vehicle–as per the definition of FMCSA–to synchronize with the engine in order to ease and expedite the accurate tracking, managing, and sharing of records of duty status (RODS) data. It records accurate data on the Hours of Service (HoS) by automatically recording driving time and keeping track of information including the location, vehicle movement, engine hours, and miles driven.

The device also issues a report on any malfunctioning and detected interference with the gadget. It also records identification information for the driver, approved users, motor vehicles, and motor carriers.

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The ELD mandate was made to enforce the hours of service law, which dictates how many hours CMV drivers can drive and when. It requires them not to drive more than 11 hours during a 14-hour period.

How an ELD works

Once the CMV is moving at a faster speed than the set threshold of 5 mph, the ELD automatically switches to drive mode. The vehicle will be deemed to have stopped once its speed drops to 0 mph and remains there for 3 successive seconds.

When the CMV has not been moving for 5 consecutive minutes and the duty status is set to driving, the ELD requires the driver to confirm a continued driving status or to enter the appropriate duty status. If the driver does not respond to the prompt by the ELD within a minute, the ELD automatically changes the duty status to on-duty instead of driving.

ELD must record location data at 60-minute intervals when the CMV is in motion and when the driver starts and shuts down the engine, alters duty status, and specifies personal use or yard moves. While in on-duty driving status, the location accuracy is roughly within a 1-mile radius, but when the driver drives the CMV for personal use, the location reporting accuracy is roughly within a 10-mile radius to safeguard the driver’s privacy.

Real-time tracking of CMVs

The ELD rule does not require real-time monitoring for CMVs, but an operator can use technology to monitor its CMVs in real-time for their own use. As long as the data does not go against any Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) or cause harassment, a motor carrier can use it.

Benefits of ELDs

Although the shift from paper logs and other methods used to keep records of duty status (RODS) and Hours of Service (HoS) may be a bit costly and seem intimidating to put in place, the use of ELDs has had many benefits beyond compliance with FMCSA’s ELD mandate. Some of the benefits include:

·             Less paperwork, reduced administrative tasks and costs

·             Improved compliance with HOS as the ELD automatically records the duty status. Advanced devices they also issue alerts when the driver is about to exceed the allowed HOS.

·             Improved safety since HOS compliance deters fatigued drivers from getting behind the wheel

·             The ELD may help in engine fault reporting, thus easing vehicle maintenance

·             Improved drivers’ productivity due to removal of paperwork and getting enough rest

Final thoughts

ELDs go beyond compliance with the law and help fleets smooth out their operations, improve driver safety, reduce costs, enhance driver productivity, and allow the business to venture into other opportunities due to the improved efficiency. The data collected by ELDs can also help truck operating companies a great deal.