Further InSight (Blog)

Demystifying the Government’s Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate

Fatigued driving was a contributing factor in more than 12% of the 129,120 total crashes that involved large trucks or buses in 2012.  Given this correlation, it is clear that keeping drivers well-rested and alert is essential to avoid the significant direct and indirect costs associated with these types of accidents.

In an effort to reduce driver fatigue, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) introduced Hours of Service (HOS) regulations that restrict the amount of time drivers can spend behind the wheel. These regulations first went into effect decades ago, but have been revised and studied repeatedly since the mid-1990’s.

The pending electronic logging device (ELD) mandate is a continuation of FMCSA’s efforts to make the roads safer. This article answers the common questions drivers and carriers have about compliance with the ELD mandate.


What Are the Current Regulatory Requirements?

The current HOS regulations limit the average work week to 70 hours and require mandatory 30-minute breaks to ensure drivers have adequate rest. To comply with these regulations, drivers have two options for preparing logs that detail their shifts.

  • Drivers can manually prepare paper-based logs using pre-printed forms.
  • Under section 395.15 of the HOS regulations, drivers can use an automatic on-board recording device (AOBRD) to prepare hours of service logs.

If drivers use an AOBRD, it must be integrally synchronized with the vehicle and record engine use, road speed, miles driven, and date and time of day. The vehicle-derived data is only used to determine when the vehicle is being driven. The device must not allow the driver to make status changes while driving.

Additionally, if requested by law enforcement, an AOBRD must be capable of reporting:

  • Total driving hours
  • Total distance driven on any particular day
  • Total on-duty hours for 7 days, including the day the report is requested
  • Times and locations of duty status changes

The HOS regulations are expected to prevent approximately 1,400 crashes, 560 injuries, and 19 fatalities per year. That will result in an estimated $280 million in savings from fewer large truck crashes and $470 million in savings from improved driver health.  Companies that operate fleets stand to be among the main beneficiaries, as employee accidents result in substantial costs for employers.

Who Must Comply With the ELD Mandate?

All drivers covered by the current HOS regulations will be required to comply with the upcoming ELD mandate.

HOS regulations and the ELD mandate apply to:

  • Drivers of commercial vehicles, with or without a trailer.
  • Drivers who engage in interstate commerce. If the goods being carried will move between different states, the driver is engaging in interstate commerce even if the driver’s vehicle never crosses state boarders.
  • Drivers who engage in either interstate or intrastate commerce AND transport hazardous material that requires a placard.
  • Driver of vehicles that weigh 10,001 lbs. or more (including any loads) or have a total weight rating of 10,001 lbs. or more.

What Specific Requirements Are Associated With the ELD Mandate?

Carriers that still use paper logs must implement a compliant ELD system. Carriers that have already implemented AOBRDs must upgrade those devices to meet the new ELD standard.

It is crucial that all effected carriers understand the technical requirements so that they can select the right ELD solution. These requirements include:

  • The ELD solution must have a direct connection with the vehicle’s engine if the vehicle was manufactured after the year 2000. Any black box or smartphone solution that does not include that direct connection will not comply with the mandate.
  • The ELD solution must include the capability to electronically transfer HOS data to law enforcement. Acceptable communication methods include wireless web services, Bluetooth 2.1, USB, email, and compliant printouts.
  • The ELD solution provider must be certified by the FMCSA. This means that the vendor must register with the FMCSA and document that its solution meets both the technical and performance mandates for the ELD mandate.
  • Carriers currently using an AOBRD are covered by a limited “grandfather” clause, which extends two years after the effective date of the rule–a total of four years from the time the final ELD rules are published.
  • Drivers that are required to keep Record of Duty Status (RODS), but fall under an Hours of Service exemption, such as short haul, are not required to use an ELD.

Compliance Is Easy With the Right ELD Solution

To eliminate any confusion surrounding compliance while giving drivers a tool that improves safety, carriers should select an ELD solution that drivers can use with the smart devices they are already familiar with. Implementing such a solution will not only “future proof” the carrier against new federal mandates, it will also provide time-saving convenience and accurate records for drivers with very little effort or training necessary.


An intuitive mobile interface enables drivers to easily record their hours of service, ensuring compliance and providing managers with real-time visibility.

An intuitive mobile interface enables drivers to easily record their hours of service, ensuring compliance and providing managers with real-time visibility.

Drivers Will Appreciate the Intuitive, Familiar Interface

When the ELD solution works through familiar mobile devices, there is less need for extensive and time consuming driver training sessions. Using a simple and intuitive touch interface, drivers can easily and quickly enter driving hours.

HOS Data Will Always Be Accurate and Instantly Available

With a touch of a button, drivers can log into their mobile device and change their duty status, submit logs, or display driving hours. This ease of use helps ensure that the recorded data is accurate and available on demand.

Drivers Will Be Prepared for Inspections and Audits

Using a mobile inspection form, drivers can prepare and instantly submit customizable vehicle inspection reports in seconds. Instead of waiting days or weeks for drivers to return paper forms, managers can have real-time access to inspection reports.

Managers Can Check Every Driver’s Current Status and Past Activity

Safety and efficiency are important, but the right ELD solution is more than a compliance tool—it’s a manager’s dream. That’s because it provides deep insight into all aspects of driver activity, including real-time status and location, along with a detailed history of stops and duty hours. Data can be shared seamlessly between drivers and managers in real time and backend dispatch and ERP systems can be updated automatically ensuring everyone has the same set of accurate information at their fingertips.

What Is the Next Step?

Carriers should be actively evaluating potential technology partners so they can find the right ELD solution and complete implementation well in advance of the deadline. This will help companies avoid last-minute problems that could lead to fines for non-compliance.

Civil penalties for failing to comply with FMCSA regulations reached a record 6,451 cases amounting to $31.8 million in 2012.  With federal officials maintaining such an aggressive enforcement posture, it will be critical for carriers to choose a dependable ELD provider.

Organizations will need to ensure that their technology meets all of the certification, connectivity, and reporting requirements, as well as the ease-of-use concerns discussed above. With the right solution, carriers can look forward to fewer accidents, lower costs, and hassle-free compliance with the FMCSA’s latest regulations.


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