What Does ELD Stand For?
Electronic Logging Device. As the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) defines ELDs, “An ELD is technology that automatically records a driver’s driving time and other aspects of the hours-of-service (HOS) records…ELD monitors a vehicle’s engine to capture data on whether the engine is running, whether the vehicle is moving, miles driven, and duration of engine operation (engine hours).”
All of this is monitored carefully, and the ELD Final Rule (or ELD Mandate) ensures that commercial drivers (such as truck or bus drivers, for instance) are following FMCSA regulations. As part of the ELD Mandate, some of those rules are changing, which we’ll address in the next section.
What Is The ELD Mandate?
The ELD Mandate, or ELD Final Rule, is designed to help commercial drivers do their job in a safer working environment. Toward that end, ELDs help track data toward meeting safety aims; ELDs capture driving time and other records required for records of duty status (RODS) and hours of service (HOS) as required by federal law. While at first glance that may seem like a lot of data and paperwork—and years ago, all of it was tracked by hand in logbooks—that data helps ensure that commercial drivers aren’t driving too far too often and are actually taking the legally required breaks that help ensure they are safer drivers, for instance.
So how is the ELD Mandate or Final Rule different from previous government regulations overseeing driver safety, records of duty status (RODS), hours of status (HOS), and more? The difference is that in previous years, companies were often free to use different systems to track that data. For instance, until the final stage of the ELD Mandate officially goes into effect later this year (December 16, 2019, to be precise), grandfathered devices such as automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) are still allowed. But, you might be asking, what’s the difference between an electronic logging device (ELD) and an automatic onboard recording device (AOBRD)?
Let’s look at the similarities first. Both can act as a GPS fleet tracker, as both can work as part of a fleet GPS tracking system. Both can interface with fleet tracking software or a fleet tracking app, for instance. Both are small devices that synchronize with the truck’s systems to record various pieces of data, such as the date and time, locations covered, engine use, road speed, miles driven, even duty status. At first glance, the two might as well be the same—and many drivers and even enforcement personnel may have trouble differentiating without further education.
It may help to think of electronic logging devices (ELDs) as the next generation of automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs). ELDs, for instance, are more accurate, more easily integrated into other technical systems (meaning you can do more with your fleet tracking software) and telematics, and cannot be overridden or hacked in the ways AOBRDs can.
Because ELDs are a step above AOBRDs, training your fleet may take time—which is a good reason not to wait until that December 16, 2019 deadline. While AOBRDs met Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) standards established back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, they no longer meet all of the regulatory standards—in part because AOBRDs are limited and can be easily overridden (logs can be changed by supervisors, for instance) or tampered with.
Electronic logging devices or ELDs are an upgrade in that regard because of their improved technology. Because they are synchronized with the vehicle’s diagnostic port, not only do they document driving time and speed to ensure hours of status (HOS) compliance, but also vehicle motion activity and engine hours, location, power status, and more, and ELDs are far less subject to tampering. Additionally, driver approval is required for confirmation of any logs, meaning alterations and annotations can be made in the care of an error or any needed clarification, protecting drivers from being overworked by supervisors who might then change their logs (which was sometimes a problem with AOBRDs). So in addition to tracking all of the data AOBRDs tracked, ELDs offer additional data and increased driver protection. Those are good things! Additionally, ELDs record of duty status (RODS) data electronically, updating every 60 minutes (if not more often), creating logs that can be shared wirelessly.
In short? The ELD mandate helps ensure driver safety more effectively than AOBRDs ever could, courtesy improved technology.
All that said, there are a few exceptions to the ELD mandate. The following drivers are allowed limited exceptions by the FMCSA:
- Drivers operating under short-haul exceptions are not required to keep RODs, and therefore are not required to use ELDs;
- Drivers who are only required to use RODS for 8 days or fewer out of every 30-day period are allowed to use paper RODS, and consequently, are not required to use ELDs;
- Drivers who operate drive-away-tow-away operations;
- Drivers of pre-2000 manufactured vehicles.
Drivers who believe they fall under one of the above-mentioned exceptions should still do their due diligence, of course, and may find they would prefer using an ELD even if not required to do so simply because of the data ELDs make available, especially when paired with a GPS fleet tracker and fleet tracking software (or even a fleet tracking app) as part of a larger fleet GPS tracking system and other telematics.
When Does The ELD Mandate Take Effect?
Officially, the last stage of the ELD mandate takes effect on December 16, 2019, but smart fleets have already begun implementing the changes if not fully already embraced them. The full timeline? In March of 2014, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released a proposal that became the ELD final rule, which was published in its final form on December 10, 2015. The rule stipulated that drivers using paper logs must switch to electronic logging devices (ELDs) by December 18, 2017. The final stage—the piece that drivers must complete by December 16, 2019—is for drivers who were previously using automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs), who must now switch to ELDs.
Of course, as noted above, the technological benefits of improved data-tracking mean better and more efficient use of fleet resources and drivers, and that in turn can greatly improve your company’s bottom line—so there’s no good reason to wait to make the switch, especially as it can take time to get used to a new system.
A further word of caution: Not all electronic logging devices or other GPS fleet tracker options are compliant with the mandate. It is you and your organization’s responsibility to ensure that the ELD you use is included in the FMCSA’s approved list of self-certified ELDs. This site can help you, but you alone are responsible for ensuring that the ELD you chose meets the compliance requirements.
Similarly, do your homework to see what your bundling options are. Bundling an electronic logging device with a GPS fleet tracker and fleet tracking software to create a fleet GPS tracking system, for instance, especially if paired with a fleet tracking app, can help you make the most both of your ELD and your fleet’s capabilities. Any sort of telematics system really should help you bundle your electronic logging device with a fleet GPS tracking system (and perhaps even a fleet tracking app) that can help you improve your bottom line in most if not all of the following ways:
- Connect you with other vested interests, including other carriers, drivers, enforcement personnel, office staff, and regulatory agencies, to help you increase efficiency and networking power.
- Connect you with customers to help ensure they are getting their orders right and promptly, as well as potentially increase business as a result of increased efficiency.
- Scalable features such as customized reporting, preventative maintenance scheduling and programming, automated scheduling, route optimization, and improved dispatch—even real-time (or near real-time) alerts.
Even better, electronic logging device options on the market today are future-ready. With the right system of ELDs and telematics (such as a good fleet GPS tracking system, for instance, and the right fleet tracking software or fleet tracking app), companies most affected by the ELD mandate (such as trucking and bus companies, for instance) can position themselves at the top of the marketplace, better prepared for the ever-shifting needs of their customers and clients.
What Is ELD Compliance?
In short? Ensuring you are using an electronic logging device (ELD) that is in compliance with the ELD final mandate and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) regulations.
For starters, an ELD has to actually measure the hours of service (HOS) and record of duty status (RODS) data that FMCSA standards require. For instance, commercial drivers (such as long-range truck drivers, bus drivers, and more) are limited to a set number of hours of driving time between rest periods; ELDs can track that data (as well as much more). Originally paper logbooks were used, though some drivers upgraded to Automatic Onboard Recording Devices (AOBRDs).
ELD compliance not only requires replacing both those paper logbooks and AOBRDs with ELDs, but requires using approved ELDs and tracking the required data to ensure that drivers maintain compliance with all applicable FMCSA regulations.
In large part, these regulations are designed to help prevent overly fatigued drivers from sitting behind the wheel when they might be less responsive—and consequently, less responsible—drivers. Logs that track driving time, rest time, and other driving data can help monitor when a driver might be at risk of driving while overly fatigued. Paper logbooks, however, can and could be easily manipulated; while it was more difficult to manipulate AOBRDs data, it could still be done, which is one of the reasons for the switch to ELDs.
In general, ELD compliance is required of any and all drivers who are required to keep hours of service (HOS) records. To ensure driver privacy, there are restrictions on what ELDs can and cannot record. For instance, there are restrictions on the tracking allowed during a driver’s off-duty hours (as opposed to on-duty hours, whether driving or not).
Similarly, drivers and selected support personnel are allowed to make notes or edits to the electronic record produced by the ELD; these notes or edits are tracked, and must be approved by the driver—a way of fixing a previous problem with AOBRDs where managers could change drivers’ records (and which allowed managers to force drivers into working unsafe shifts).
As to which devices are compliant with FMCSA standards, however? That’s a little trickier to determine, in part because those regulations and standards can change. That said, the FMCSA maintains a list of ELDs that are in current compliance according to their manufacturers. Those products were registered by their manufacturers, with a statement that their device meets the FMCSA minimum operational requirements.
Of course, none of these products have been formally tested or otherwise evaluated by the FMCSA, so be sure to do your due diligence, and keep in mind that an ELD not on the list may also meet the standards—just as the opposite may be true, and a product on the list may not actually meet the compliance standards.
All of those caveats aside, however, check out the 15 authorized manufacturers of ELD equipment and their best ELDs:
- AT&T Fleet Complete
- BigRoad DashLink ELD
- Blue Ink Technology ELD
- CalAmp V-Series with iOn Hours
- CarrierWeb CarrierMate
- Garmin ELD
- Gorilla Safety ELD
- J.J. Keller Encompass ELog Electronic Logging Device
- KeepTruckin ELD
- PeopleNet Display.4
- Rand McNally Electronic Logging Device ELD 50
- Teletrac Navman
- Verizon Connect
- VDO RoadLog
Who Is Exempt From ELD?
A select group of drivers are exempt from the ELD mandate and are not required to use electronic logging devices. Those drivers are allowed limited exceptions by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and are the following:
- Drivers of vehicles manufactured before 2000
- Driveaway-towaway vehicle drivers
- Drivers who maintain a record of duty status (RODS) for 8 days or less out of every 30-day period
- Drivers with a commercial drivers license (CDL) who fall under the 100 air-mile radius exception
- Drivers without a CDL who fall under the 150 air-mile radius exception
- Drivers of some farm vehicles
It is your responsibility to understand if you fall under one of these exemptions. For instance, the 100 air-mile radius exemption has several conditions a driver must meet in order to qualify. They must:
- Start and end their day at the same location each workday
- Work shifts of a maximum length of 12 hours or less
- Have at least 10 hours off between each shift of up to 12 hours
- Never drive for more than 11 hours
- Operate only within a 100 air-mile radius of their normal work location
Similar restrictions apply to each of the other exemptions as well, so be sure you know whether or not you actually qualify for an exemption.
GPS Fleet Tracking
Another advantage of using electronic logging devices (ELDs) is how easily they can be synced as part of a larger telematics system, such as a fleet GPS tracking system including a GPS fleet tracker on each vehicle, fleet tracking software at a managerial level, perhaps even a fleet tracking app for drivers and even other relevant personnel.
The benefits of using a GPS fleet tracker on each vehicle as part of a larger fleet GPS tracking system are numerous. Not only does fleet tracking software (whether a fleet tracking app or other software) help you identify inefficiencies in your scheduling and route creation (route optimization is one of the biggest ways you can save your company money, as is better weight and load management), but it also helps you keep a better eye on the big picture. As electronic logging devices can track driver behavior, so too can adding that data to the fleet GPS tracking system help you improve your company’s performance, as you’re better able to get drivers the help they need to become safer and more responsible drivers, for instance.
The combination of an ELD, a GPS fleet tracker, fleet tracking software, and a fleet tracking app, for instance, can make for a great fleet GPS tracking system, allowing a manager to easily keep an eye on each vehicle in the fleet, each driver’s underlying data metrics, and to consequently best manage their team, including more efficient scheduling, route optimization, load management, and much more—all of which can make each piece of the puzzle a little more profitable and allow each driver to do their job more skillfully, for instance.
GPS Fleet Tracking Pricing
Of course, when it comes to developing a fleet GPS tracking system, incorporating fleet tracking software (including potentially a fleet tracking app), electronic logging devices (ELDs), GPS fleet tracker devices, even a fleet tracker app—things can get pricy quickly. Fortunately, however, there are a wide range of telematics organizations and companies offering these services, and as a result, that competition has helped drive prices to a much more affordable price point, especially as you consider how much money such a fleet GPS tracking system can help you save on your expenses (in the form of fuel savings, time savings, and more) even as it adds to your profitability and increased customer satisfaction, leading to more business.
While not very many GPS fleet tracker companies, fleet GPS tracking system companies, or fleet tracking software companies will necessarily disclose their prices upfront, the vast majority can provide quotes readily and quickly; it never hurts to ask a variety of competitors in the fleet GPS tracking system and telematics marketplace for quotes and then compare those quotes as you narrow down your options.
That said, let’s look at a few pointers that can help you make sense of the quotes you might receive:
- Consider the cost of the basic service plan. For the most basic plans, you can likely count on a range of $15-30 per vehicle per month; more advanced fleet GPS tracking system service plans might cost as much as $50 monthly per vehicle. Keep in mind, however, that this is generally the service plan for the entire system—though keep a careful eye for any additional extras you may need to buy or otherwise supply for the fleet GPS tracking system to work effectively.
- Get detailed quotes. The more detailed the better, as without those details, it can be difficult to compare quotes against what you need—and compare those quotes to what each system might actually be able to save you in increased driver efficiency and reduced fuel costs.
- Consider systems costs that you might otherwise not think of, such as any hardware costs associated with implementing the fleet GPS tracking system or fleet tracking software, or even with the GPS fleet tracker or electronic logging device itself. Other unconsidered costs might include cellular network data, for instance, if part of the GPS fleet tracker communication costs.
- Consider the costs of purchase against the costs of rental. Renting hardware, for instance, may save you upfront costs but may cost you more in monthly fees. Similarly, if purchasing equipment may make you eligible for a volume discount that should be considered in your cost-benefit analysis.
- Do your due diligence in examining hardware choices. While GPS fleet tracker devices and ELDs are all generally in a similar price range, installation fees and monthly service fees may vary a great deal, just as the amount of work required in installation may similarly vary.
- Consider update frequency. Update frequencies can vary extensively, from real-time or near real-time to every three to five minutes up to once or twice a day, for instance. Consider what frequency you need against what you might be willing to pay for that update frequency and be willing to consider compromise at a better price.
- Lastly, be on the lookout for hidden fees. Little hidden service fees for GPS tracking data can add up quickly.
Who Needs ELD Logs?
The better question might be who doesn’t, truthfully. As noted above, not all drivers are eligible for the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate. To more clearly note who is required to follow the ELD mandate, however, here are the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) guidelines:
“The ELD rule applies to most motor carriers and drivers who are currently required to maintain records of duty status (RODS) per Part 395, 49 CFR 395.8(a). The rule applies to commercial buses as well as trucks, and to Canada- and Mexico-domiciled drivers.”
To more clearly detail who that is, check out this list:
- Interstate commercial motor vehicle drivers currently required to keep RODS (record of duty status)
- Vehicles that weigh more than 10,001 pounds
- Vehicles with placarded hazmat loads
- Vehicles carrying more than 8 or 15 passengers (depending on vehicle class).
Those are the drivers required to utilize an electronic logging device (ELD) by the ELD mandate. It is still their responsibility to ensure that the ELD they use meets the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) standards and regulations.
How To Cheat ELD Logs?
If you’re interested in cheating your electronic logging device (ELD) logs, it’s also possible you’re interested in getting fired. For instance, you can turn your ELD to off-duty and theoretically as long as you return to that spot before turning your ELD back to on-duty, you could then log miles that wouldn’t be logged by your ELD. Here’s the thing, though: Not only would you not get paid for those miles, but ultimately you’d still get busted because the truck’s mileage and other data from the GPS fleet tracker wouldn’t line up with your logs. And if anything were to happen, the best that could happen—yes, the best—is that you’d get fired.
As a result, the short version of how to cheat your ELD logs? You can’t. Longer version? You shouldn’t even try unless you really want to get fired or worse.
Resources Used For This Article On The ELD Mandate: