Understanding the ELD Rule: The 5 W’s of the ELD Mandate

Understanding the ELD Rule: The 5 W’s of the ELD Mandate

The electronic logging device mandate, which is more commonly known as the ELD mandate, is the latest attempt by the FMCSA to improve road safety and minimize road accidents in the United States of America. It requires most commercial motor vehicle drivers to install an FMCSA-compliant ELD.

The ELD mandate implementation deadline is December 18, 2017, for most commercial motor vehicles, and it is approaching fast.

The majority of large fleets (more than 81%) have successfully equipped and installed electronic logging devices. However, smaller fleets and owner-operators are still a bit behind in the ELD implementation race.

There are two major reasons for that:

  1. Smaller fleets and independent owner-operators are wary of the cost of installing electronic logging devices. Although the government has mandated it, they are not the ones bearing the cost — which is a big hurdle for many owner-operators.
  2. The lack of accurate information is another big reason why many small fleets and independent owner-operators still haven’t adopted ELDs. The trucking industry is evolving, and there are also many rumors surrounding the ELD mandate and its implementation, which has only caused confusion and delay in the ELD installation process.

In this article, we try to solve both these problems:

  1. We will describe a way that fleets can use to find the cheapest, most cost-effective ELD solution. Moreover, we will also explain why adopting ELDs might actually be a good return on investment.
  2. Second, we will try to debunk all the rumors and confusions surrounding the FMCSA’s ELD mandate and electronic logging devices. Once there is no more confusion, we hope that smaller fleets and owner-operators would also be able to successfully install ELDs before the looming deadline and become FMCSA-compliant.

Let’s begin by the necessary explanations first.

To keep things simple and easy to consume, we will divide this article into “5 W’s of the ELD mandate”.

1. What is the ELD mandate?

This is the biggest question, isn’t it?

Although by now most people understand what the ELD mandate is and what it requires of them, it is still a good idea to explain for those who are not entirely familiar with its nitty gritty details.

As mentioned earlier, ELD mandate is being pushed by the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration).

The FMCSA works in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DoT), and its primary goal is to improve road safety and reduce the number of accidents that happen throughout the United States.

How will the ELD mandate help with improving road safety?

You see, driver fatigue is believed to be the biggest cause of road accidents. Recently, doctors also confirmed driver fatigue to be the chief reason for vehicle crashes.

The FMCSA already has certain Hours of Service (HOS) rules and regulations that limit how many hours a driver can drive in a day. However, the problem is that Hours of Service are recorded with paper logs and, therefore, can be easily manipulated and falsified.

As a result, many drivers, either willingly or unwillingly after being coerced by fleet managers, end up driving more than they are supposed to drive. They breach their Hours of Service limits, drive more hours in a day, and get tired. All of which eventually increase the probability of road accidents.

According to the ELD mandate, most commercial motor vehicles need to be equipped with electronic logging devices.

These ELDs will eliminate paper logs and record driver duty statuses and HOS information automatically. Moreover, ELDs are supposed to be tamper-resistant, so the recorded information cannot be altered by anyone.

So, this is the basic premise of the upcoming FMCSA’s ELD mandate. Now, let’s discuss the ELD mandate timeline and its implementation deadline.

2. What is the ELD Mandate Timeline and Implementation Date?

The ELD mandate timeline is actually pretty simple to understand. We have created an infographic to help our readers grasp the entire timeline.

ELD Mandate Compliance Timeline

As you can see in the infographic:

  • The final ELD rule was published on December 16, 2015.
  • The ELD mandate implementation deadline is December 18, 2017.
  • The ELD mandate implementation for vehicles that qualify for the “grandfather clause” is December 16, 2019.

Let’s explain the last point in more detail.

3. What is the Grandfather Clause?

The ELD mandate has a provision that allows vehicles equipped with AOBRDs two additional years for ELD adoption.

In other words, if you have a vehicle that is equipped with AOBRDs, you do not have to install ELDs by December 18, 2017. Instead, you can install ELDs by December 16, 2019.

The grandfather clause basically extends the ELD mandate deadline by two years for vehicles that already have AOBRDs.

However, there are a couple of important provisions related to the grandfather clause that you must understand:

  • The AOBRDs must fulfill the requirements and criteria set by the FMCSA in 49 CFR 395.15.
  • After December 18, 2017, you will not be able to install AOBRDs in new vehicles.

So … Should You Buy AOBRDs Now?

The “grandfather” clause gives fleets the opportunity to extend the ELD mandate deadline by two years. For some trucking companies, it’s a welcome proposition.

Does it mean that — if you haven’t installed ELDs — you should now buy AOBRDs, extend the ELD mandate deadline by two years, and replace ELDs with AOBRDs after December 16, 2019?


It isn’t financially viable, and you should not do that.

Electronic logging devices, or ELDs, are the future of the trucking industry. These devices collect so much data and information that AOBRDs cannot. Ultimately, you are going to use ELDs anyway, so it makes sense to install them now, instead of investing in the AOBRD technology and replacing them with new ELDs in just 24 months.

However, if you absolutely want the flexibility of AOBRDs for two more years, there is a better solution.

Instead of buying AOBRDs and then replacing them with ELDs, buy ELDs that are capable of working as AOBRDs.

For instance, the KeepTruckin ELD is FMCSA-compliant. It can also work in the AOBRD mode until December 16, 2019. You can switch it from ELD to AOBRD to ELD with just a couple of clicks in the KeepTruckin Dashboard for Fleets. In other words, you won’t have to purchase two different devices.

For more in-depth information regarding KeepTruckin AOBRDs, read ELD or AOBRD — KeepTruckin Lets You Choose.

4. Who Needs to Install ELDs? And Who is Exempt?

The ELD mandate applies to most CMV drivers. According to an estimate, it applies to more than 3.5 million commercial drivers across the country.

As a general rule, if a driver maintains RODS (Record of Duty Status), he will require ELDs after December 18, 2017. However, there are some exceptions, too.

The ELD mandate exemptions are listed below. If you belong to any of the following categories, you won’t require electronic logging devices.

  • Drivers who conduct driveaway, towaway operations where the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered.
  • Drivers of vehicles that have pre-2000 model year engines.
  • Short-haul drivers who are not required to maintain RODS.
  • Short-haul drivers who breach the short-haul limitations and have to maintain RODS, but for no more than 8 days in a 30-day period.

ELD Mandate Exemptions [Infographic]

Here are two important points to understand regarding the 8-day exception:

  1. The “30-day period” here does not refer to a month. For instance, a period from June 20 to July 20 would be considered a 30-day period.
  2. Sometimes, short-haul drivers drive more than the short-haul limitation or do not qualify for the short-haul exception. On such days, they are required to maintain RODS on paper logs. However, if they do so for more than 8 days in any 30-day period, they will have to use ELDs.

The short-haul 8-day exception appears to be the biggest concern for most fleets because it requires long-term planning.

Recently, Joe DeLorenzo, the FMCSA director, also stressed the importance of pre-planning, especially in the context of the 8-day exception. According to him, the 8-day exception is his biggest concern. In his own words:

“The one [area] that I’m most concerned about is the 8-day rule. Because the 8-day rule is the one where you can’t be figuring this out on the seventh day in any 30-day period and finding out that this is going to be a problem.”

“That’s what happens a lot: ‘my driver went down sick for a couple of days, and now, suddenly, I’m going to be losing this exception, and that [other] driver is going to need an ELD’. Then you have to got to go back, and you have got to enter all that information into the ELD so the driver can use it, and then it’s just a lot more work for everyone.”

Joe said that the 8-day exception problem could be solved by planning ahead.

“I don’t think I can stress that enough — thinking ahead and figuring out what you as a carrier are really going to need in terms of those exceptions is going to be really important.”

5. What Should You Look for in an ELD Provider?

There are now dozens of ELD providers in the market. However, not every ELD solution guarantees compliance.

Apart from the ELD mandate compliance requirement — which is obviously the most important thing to worry about — there are a few other things that you also need to look for in an ELD provider.

ELDs are powerful devices and can provide the information, data, and insights to trucking companies and fleet administrators that they need to improve their operations.

With the right ELD solution, you get the right information. And with the right amount of information, you can streamline operations, reduce operating costs, minimize administrative burdens, automate numerous tasks, and significantly increase your profits.

In the end, when you fully leverage a powerful ELD solution, you get a better return on investment (ROI).

Here are a few important things you need to look for in an ELD provider:

1. ELD Features

As mentioned earlier, the primary purpose of an ELD is to help you comply with the upcoming ELD mandate. Because if you are not, you’d be facing hefty fines and penalties.

However, an electronic logging device is not just about compliance. It’s more than that.

ELDs are now packed with amazing features that help you improve your fleet’s operations, minimize cost, and maximize profits. That is why it is very important that you focus on what kind of features each ELD provider offers you.

For instance, KeepTruckin ELDs have the following features:

  • GPS Tracking — GPS tracking allows you track vehicles in real-time with meter-level precision. You can also see vehicle location history with breadcrumb trails.
  • Log Auditing — KeepTruckin ELDs automatically audit drivers logs and send real-time alerts to fleet managers for upcoming HOS violations. It allows them to intervene at the right moment and save drivers from Hours-of-Service violations.
  • Messaging — With the KeepTruckin ELD solution, drivers and fleet managers can stay in touch with a streamlined messaging system. Individual messages, images, current location, broadcast messages to multiple drivers, and read receipts are some of the many available features in KeepTruckin Messaging.
  • IFTA Reporting — KeepTruckin ELDs automatically calculate the miles traveled in each jurisdiction and calculate IFTA reports — which usually take dozens of hours for fleet managers to do.
  • Idle-Time Tracking — With this feature, fleets can identify drivers who idle for too long or too frequently. Managers can then stop idling and save their fleets thousands of dollars every month.
  • Vehicle Diagnostics — Get real-time alerts whenever a fault code is detected. Moreover, managers can also view the historical fault code reports to identify recurring vehicle issues.
  • Driver Scorecards — KeepTruckin ELDs allow fleet managers to identify drivers with dangerous driving behaviors, such as hard braking, hard cornering, and hard acceleration.
  • KeepTruckin Alerts — Administrators can set up alerts for proactive driver and vehicle management. They can then receive real-time alerts whenever something important happens, e.g., HOS violation or a hard-braking event.

2. Connectivity

How does the engine-connected ELD connect with the driver’s mobile device?

Although many trucking companies totally forget about this, it is an important aspect that you should definitely look into.

In a recent address, the FMCSA confirmed that ELDs which rely on cellular networks to sync data between engine-connected ELDs and drivers’ mobile devices are not dependable and, in fact, a compliance risk.

What if your driver is driving in an area with spotty or no cellular coverage?

The data would not be synced between the two devices, and that would result in the driver being non-compliant in the case of roadside inspection.

Instead of cellular-based ELDs, you should look for ELDs that rely on Bluetooth or USB connections for transferring the data. It would ensure that the data is always 100% synced — even in areas with no cellular coverage.

3. Price

Of course, ELD price is the most important factor for a lot of fleets and owner-operators.

There are many ELD providers who are charging hundreds and thousands of dollars for every ELD. However, there are also some ELD vendors that are not charging much at all. KeepTruckin belongs to the second group.

Use our ELD price comparison chart to find out what different ELD vendors are charging.

Note: When buying from other ELD companies, make sure to confirm the additional hardware or implementation charges. Many ELD providers charge additional costs, which later becomes a huge burden for trucking companies and owner-operators.

4. Certification and Compliance

In a recent address, the FMCSA representatives reminded safety officers that electronic logging devices must be certified.

If they are not certified, they would not be considered compliant electronic logging devices.

Therefore, when you are looking into an ELD provider, make sure to double-check that they are, indeed, offering 100% compliant ELD solutions.

Start your research with the FMCSA’s list of self-certified ELDs. If an ELD solution isn’t listed there, it’s not even worth bothering going forward.

Final Words

Although there are some rumors going on that the ELD mandate is being delayed, there is no truth in that.

The courts in the country have already repealed all attempts to delay the ELD mandate. The Senate DOT bill also skipped any changes related to the ELD mandate. Now, Congress has also voted down the attempt to delay the ELD mandate.

The ELD rule is all set to take into effect from December 18, 2017.

After this deadline, vehicles without ELDs will get citations and fines. After April 01, 2017, vehicles will be put out of service for not having compliant electronic logging devices.

Start the ELD implementation process now. Request a free demo today.

If you have any questions, call 844-325-9230.



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