What is an ELD?

An Electronic Logging Device (ELD) is defined as a device or technology that automatically records a driver’s driving time and facilitates the accurate recording of the driver’s hours of service, and meets the technical and functional requirements of Subpart B of 49 C.F.R. Part 395. An ELD must be self-certified and registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

An ELD device must connect to the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) engine to record vehicle information during the driver’s duty status changes and during driving events. ELDs are an evolution of fleet management solutions and utilize the types of technologies: GPS, wireless and/or satellite communications and cloud-based services for storing, accessing and manipulating data. In fact, many of the ELDs on the market today are updated versions of fleet management devices that have been on the market for many years.

A brief history of CMV Driver Safety Regulations leading to the ELD

The first Hours of Service laws impacting truck and bus drivers hit the books back in 1937 and those original laws are still reflected in today’s HOS laws. In 2000, the US Department of Transportation created the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) pursuant to the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act of 1999 (49 U.S.C. 113). Formerly a part of the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s primary mission is to prevent commercial motor vehicle-related fatalities and injuries.

The FMCSA published the Electronic Logging Device mandate in the December 16, 2015 Federal Register. Prior to that, Automatic On-Board Recording Devices (AOBRDs) had been in use starting in the mid-1980’s. Those devices were required to connect to the engine to record engine hours, speed, mileage and time. ELDs, however, must automatically capture driving times, and meet more rigorous technology standards defined by the FMCSA.

The ELD Mandate

On December 16, 2015, the FMCSA mandated that as of December 18, 2017, motor carriers must use certified ELDs or grandfathered AOBRDs to record HOS logs for most interstate drivers of commercial motor vehicles. Grandfathered AOBRDs placed into service before December 18, 2017 were required to be upgraded to ELD specifications before December 16, 2019. The mandate affected millions of drivers and trucks can be placed out-of-service (OOS) if they aren’t compliant.

Self-certified vs independently verified ELD devices

All manufacturers of ELDs must certify that their products meet the rules governing the technical standards of the ELD mandate. FMCSA’s registry shows all the self-certified and registered devices here.

While the FMCSA ELD mandate doesn’t require independent verification of ELD devices, some ELD suppliers like EROAD have had third parties certify their technologies. We realize unbiased verification and peace of mind have great value to fleet operations. Our compliance = your compliance.

Why are ELDs mandated?

Long periods of commercial driving can be physically tiring on drivers. Numerous studies show fatigue is a major factor in increasing road accident rates which has attracted the attention of news media, regulators and the public. Awareness of the matter contributed to the ELD mandate requiring drivers to accurately log driving hours and minimize the falsification around their hours of service and record of duty status (RODS).

Because of the high incidence of paper logbook inaccuracies, the ELD compliance mandate requires the replacement of paper logs with ELDs. The devices must automatically record a driver for accurate reporting.

What type of operations does the ELD mandate affect?

All commercial driving operations must keep hours of service records. This includes interstate CMV drivers currently required to keep RODS, vehicles with placarded hazmat loads, weighing more than 10,001 pounds and carrying more than 8 or 15 passengers (determined by the vehicle class).

Intrastate CMV drivers may also be subject to the ELD mandate. Depending on the state’s timetable for adoption of the federal regulations, an intrastate CMV driver may have longer to adopt and implement an ELD. For example, Texas intrastate carriers had until December 16, 2019 to adopt ELDs.

How do ELDs work?

ELD devices automatically capture driving time and records engine data, miles driven and movement. Telematics systems synchronize the ELD device through a hardwired connection with the engine. A user-friendly touchscreen on the ELD lets drivers view information, add notes to or edit their logs, and easily show their record of duty status at roadside inspections. EROAD ELDs provide a secure, reliable connection to our web-based portal where real-time data and reports can be viewed or transmitted on demand.

ELDs show drivers simple graphics with their Record of Duty Status (RODS), so they are aware of their daily Hours of Service anytime at a glance. The ELD mandate dictates that all ELD data is displayed in a format that’s standardized, and can be transferred to the law enforcement official via either: the Local option such as Bluetooth 2.0 and -USB; or the Telematics option such as via wireless web services and email.

ELDs: an evolution of fleet management solutions

ELD systems aren’t mere logging tools. They often become the backbone of fleet management. Once implemented, ELDs provide performance metrics that can help companies improve on-time performance, cut fuel consumption, improve driver behavior and situational awareness, streamline their deliveries and cut overall costs.

ELD compliance can protect everyone’s safety while helping fleets avoid the high financial losses incurred by accidents and legal challenges. A FMCSA report found that commercial drivers using electronic logs reduced their total crash rate by 11.7% and lowered their preventable crash rate 5.1% compared to drivers in trucks not equipped with e-logs.

Issues that have arisen from the ELD Mandate

Flexible logs
ELDs can be leveraged for a better understanding of how driver’s encounter their daily shifts and the impact of HOS rules on operational efficiencies, driver well-being and safety. The industry has numerous anecdotal evidence of shipper delays and parking issues impacting on driver’s hours, and ELD data can help to substantiate them.
Paper versus electronic
Many commercial truck drivers that have adopted ELD devices find it much easier than paper logbooks, eliminating time spent logging by hand.
Privacy concerns

ELD compliance regulations includes provisions that offer drivers peace of mind. For instance, if driving in personal conveyance mode, their location data can only be available within a 10-mile radius. The DOT will not know a driver’s every move. And no, ELD devices can’t shut down a truck.

Benefits of ELD devices beyond safety

How can ELD devices save time and money? They can cut costs, burdens and increase profits in numerous ways actually.

Cost Cutting

ELD systems like EROAD’s can dramatically reduce costs associated with manual paperwork. ELD data enables fleet management to score drivers by tracking performance through meaningful metrics. EROAD’s Leaderboard can show which drivers may be higher risks – like habitual speeders, harsh brakers or sudden accelerators.

Motor carriers can reduce administrative time and associated costs with ELDs. Thanks to ELD compliance, carriers may now negotiate lower liability insurance premiums by lowering the drivers’ rate of risk events. Also, through accident recreation, data from the ELD can provide the proof needed to enable motor carriers to more easily defend themselves in court and potentially avoid major legal costs.

The FMCSA in its Regulatory Impact Analysis for ELDs  estimates annual paperwork savings per driver include: Driver submitting RODS at $56, driver filing of RODS at $487, clerk filing RODS at $120, and elimination of paper driver log-books at $42. In accident reduction savings, the FMCSA figures an average safety benefit of $126 per short-haul ELD and $187 per long-haul ELD user.

Improving efficiency
ELD compliance is helping to increase productivity, efficiency and improving driver safety – the main objective of the ELD mandate. Besides improving communication with drivers, ELD technology allows for better tracking of arrival and departure times, as well as delivery status. It can increase accuracy of records and vehicle uptime with engine fault reporting for proactive vehicle maintenance.

Carriers should consider these important ELD features

Cellular connectivity
How do your ELD devices return data to your solution interface? Many ELD solutions use a single wireless carrier and can be subject to coverage gaps that impact real-time use of the system for dispatch and operations.
Engine connectivity
Depending on the solution, Bluetooth connections can be fragile and problematic in the cab, cause delays for drivers and problems at roadside inspections, which along with such devices are quite risk prone.
Ease of use in the cab
How easy is the system to use? Is it simple for drivers to learn and remember? Will it work effectively for drivers where English is not their primary language?
Recording and reporting features
Will the ELD devices auto-record driving time and details? Where are records located? Be sure the records are at drivers’ fingertips when needed for roadside inspections and that certification of driver records are reported at the end of each 24-hour period.
Your ELD system should also provide on-demand display of reports for safety officials (provided on screen or printed out) and convenient access to user manuals.

The EROAD ELD difference

Successfully implementing an ELD solution involves more than installing the new system or training your fleet. With EROAD, becoming compliant is simple. Our intuitive, driver-friendly ELD, secure web portal and training support have been designed to meet all your needs. From one convenient platform, fleets can capture accurate data automatically and get real-time notifications and reports.

You can be confident that EROAD provides an ELD solution that ensures FMCSA compliance with the ELD mandate. Contact us today to run a safer, more efficient fleet while reducing the burdens and costs of outdated technology.

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