ELD Compliance

What is an ELD?

The ELD is an electronic hardware device which connects with and monitors a vehicle’s usage, often through the vehicle’s diagnostic port, to record driving hours and other pertinent data. As per the FMCSA’s ELD mandate, all non-exempt commercial motor vehicle drivers require compliant ELDs.

It is required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to improve the safety of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers and general motorists.

What does ELD stand for?

ELD stands for Electronic Logging Device.

How do ELDs work?

Once the ELD is attached to a CMV’s diagnostic port, it synchronizes with the vehicle’s Engine Control Unit (ECU) to automatically record the Hours of Service (HOS), Records of Duty status (RODs), and other information required by the DOT.

An ELD monitors a vehicle’s engine to obtain data on whether or not the engine is running, if the vehicle is moving, how many miles have been driven, and the duration of the engine operation.

Other driver information ELDs record includes authorized user or driver information, duty status changes (i.e., on duty, driving, off duty), the driver’s daily record certification, and driver logon and logoff events (among others).

ELDs transmit all this information to a fleet telematics system or software, allowing fleet managers to track and review the Hours of Service status and generate reports important for fleet management.

What is an FMCSA-approved ELD?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) does not directly grant certification to ELD vendors, which means there is no “FMCSA-approved ELD.”
However, the FMCSA provides a list of self-registered ELDs on its website. For an ELD to be compliant, it must be on this list and fulfill all the Technical Specifications given by the FMCSA.

Not all ELDs on the market actually meet the Technical Specifications. Therefore, the onus of choosing a compliant solution is on the user.

Who needs an ELD?

The ELD mandate applies to most CMV drivers who are required to maintain Record of Duty Status (RODS).

However, there are some exceptions.  According to the FMCSA, the following do not need an ELD:

  • Drivers who operate under the short-haul RODS exemptions
  • Drivers with pre-2000 vehicle engines
  • Drivers who maintain RODS for no more than 8 days in a 30-day rolling period
  • Drivers who conduct drive-away-tow-away operations, in which the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered.

What’s the difference between ELD and AOBRD?

ELDs and AOBRDs are different types of devices. After December 16, 2019, AOBRDs may no longer be used for RODS compliance. The ELD mandate requires all non-exempt drivers to install compliant FMCSA-registered ELDs.

There are many differences between an ELD and an AOBRD. For example:

  • Reclassification of time.  Drivers cannot reclassify drive time with ELDs. AOBRDs allowed reclassification of drive time to yard move or personal conveyance at any time.
  • Reassigning trips. AOBRDs allowed reassigning trips to any drivers. With ELDs, you can only reassign trips to co-drivers.
  • Log edits. ELDs expressly require notes for all log edits, while AOBRD didn’t have any such requirement.

For more information, check out the other major differences between an ELD and AOBRD.

When did ELDs become mandatory?

As per the final ELD rule, federally-required ELD implementation began from December 18, 2017. The full ELD compliance phase started from December 16, 2019. 

As of now, compliant ELDs are mandatory for non-exempt commercial motor vehicles and drivers.

Learn more about the ELD implementation timeline.

What are the benefits of ELDs?

The number one benefit of an ELD is that it helps with ELD compliance.

With ELDs, roads are expected to become safer. Hours of Service compliance is also expected to be improved. ELDs may also lead to fewer violations and penalties.

Apart from compliance benefits, Electronic Logging Devices generally offer plenty of other benefits. As an ELD is connected to the vehicle’s engine, it can record important information and share it with drivers and fleet managers that may help them with increasing operational efficiency.

Here are some other benefits of ELDs:

  • Simplified IFTA calculation.  You can simplify IFTA calculations if your ELD calculates the distance each vehicle travels in each jurisdiction and presents detailed trip reports.
  • Improved driver behavior and fleet safety. Some ELDs can also help identify drivers with risky behavior, such as rapid acceleration, speeding, hard braking, and hard cornering. Identification of at-risk drivers is the first step to improving fleet safety.
  • Proactive vehicle maintenance.  As an ELD is connected directly to the vehicle’s engine, it can help catch vehicle maintenance issues early.  Some ELDs can automatically monitor fault codes and send real-time alerts for proactive vehicle maintenance.
  • Increased efficiency.  ELDs can also help identify drivers who idle for too long or too frequently. Fleets can increase efficiency by minimizing vehicle idling and improving utilization rates.
  • Reduced administrative burden.  ELDs minimize the use of paperwork and promote automation. This reduces administrative burden and may also decrease operating expenses.

Can you edit ELD logs?

Both drivers and carriers are allowed to make limited edits to ELD records to add missing information or correct mistakes.

However, all edits must include an annotation (a note) that explains the changes. The ELD rule also requires unedited, original ELD records to be kept intact.

Learn more about editing ELD records.

What happens if you unplug your ELD?

Deliberately unplugging an ELD may lead to violations and potentially hefty fines.

If you experience ELD malfunctions and you need to unplug the device, follow the FMCSA’s ELD Malfunctions and Data Diagnostics Events guidelines. 

Do intrastate drivers need ELDs?

Most states have adopted ELDs for intrastate operations. The use of ELDs for non-exempt intrastate drivers in Florida became mandatory from Jan. 1, 2020. Similarly, Texas mandated the use of Electronic Logging Devices for intrastate drivers by Dec. 17, 2019.

These regulations do vary from state to state. Check with local authorities to determine if you need an ELD or not.

Are owner-operators exempt from ELD?

No. Most owner-operators need ELDs.

Unless owner-operators qualify for an ELD exemption, they are required to install a compliant ELD, just like other non-exempt commercial drivers.

Are livestock haulers exempt from ELD?

According to the FMCSA, transporters of livestock and insects do not need an ELD. This provision will remain in place until further notice.