A while ago, the old paper log system was the only option to register a commercial driver's hours of service. However, it was inefficient for two reasons.
First, CDL truck drivers spent too much time filling out those paper logs or, due to fatigue, could easily miscalculate their hours.
To fight this US road phenomenon, CDL truck drivers are mandated to use ELD systems. In this way, the federal government expects to reduce the risk of accidents on the roads and highways.
In this post, I’ll explain the meaning of the ELD systems, how do ELD’s track your HOS, and who is affected by this federal requirement.
What is the hours of service (HOS) law?
An ELD system only counts the driving hours of a driver, but the HOS law gives it power.
In the commercial driving, the drivers must follow the HOS law that stipulate that the commercial truck drivers are required to be on-duty for maximum 14-hour period and during this window they can drive for 11 hours and a 30 minute break. After that, they must take a consecutive 10 hours of off-duty time to restart their 14 hours.
What is the ELD mandate in the trucking business?
In 2012, the United States Congress enacted the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century” bill or more commonly referred to as MAP-21. That bill outlined the criteria for highway funding, including a provision requiring the FMCSA to develop a rule mandating the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs).
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and DOT pushed the ELD rule. This rule applies to all the truck drivers required to keep records of duty service. They must replace paper logs and Automatic On-Board Recording Device (AOBRD) with the ELD system.
The electronic logging device rule or the ELD Final Rule intends to achieve two things. First, is to create a safer working environment on the US roads and highways. Second, is to allow fleet managers to create a better way to track and manage truck driver's duty status.
These ELD devices provide the digital version of the HOS data by synchronizing with the vehicle's engine and recording the truck's driving time.
For example, an ELD must:
- If the truck is in motion, connect to the truck’s engine to record its driving time.
- Allow the driver to log in and select his status such as on-duty, off-duty, or on-duty not driving;
- Driving vehicle segments must be automatically selected once the truck starts moving.
- Graphically display a record of the driver’s duty status, so that he can quickly see his working hours in a day.
- Provide data in a standardized format and can be transmitted to law enforcement in several prescribed ways, such as wireless web services, USB, or Bluetooth 2.0.
- Be provider-certified that the device meets the proper specifications.
The benefits of tracking HOS with ELD devices
The main concern carriers and owner-operators have regarding these ELD devices is the additional required expense that is put on their shoulders to be in the trucking business. That's why many of them wonder if they can use a cell phone as an ELD.
Besides this concern, the benefits are that the ELD units allow you to track in real-time the driver's hours of services, which allows you to comply with the HOS rules.
These benefits are worth the cost.
A truck driver’s benefits:
- Save driver time by reducing paperwork.
- Keep a dispatcher up-to-date on a driver’s status, letting them plan for loads better in light of HOS compliance needs.
- Reduce the hassle of keeping a paper log. This is something that e-logs do very well, and you’ll never want to return.
- Ensures that commercial truck drivers are never forced to violate regulations or endanger public safety.
What is an eld certified?
FMCSA requires that all ELD units are certified.
If the ELD units are not certified, they won’t be considered compliant e-logs.
Make sure that when you are looking into an ELD provider, check if it is found in this ELD certification list.
If an ELD solution is not on the list, don’t bother going forward.
Who is required to run eld?
Are all CDL commercial drivers required to have ELDs installed on their trucks?
The ELD system connects to the vehicle’s diagnostics port.
Currently, there are three types of diagnostics ports used in vehicles that the ELD can be connected to.
An exception are the trucks models built in 2000 and prior. These trucks are incompatible with the ELD systems because they were not equipped with the ports attached to the vehicle’s engine.
Required to have an ELD are:
- 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).
Some vehicle classes and drivers are exempt from the rule are:
- Drivers who operate within a 100-air-mile radius, who may continue to use timecards
- Non-CDL (commercial driver license) freight drivers who operate within a 150-air-mile radius
- “Drive-away, tow-away” operators
- Vehicles manufactured before model year 2000.