Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)

In December of 2015, ELD legislation was approved, and the ELD mandate is set to take effect on December 18, 2017. Over the next few years, electronic logging devices are going to be implemented in the commercial vehicle and public transportation (buses) industries, but there seems to be some confusion over what these devices are and how they will help or hurt the industry. We’re going to try to clear up a few things about ELDs for you.

What is an ELD (electronic logging device)?

An ELD is a device designed to connect to the engine of a heavy vehicle such as a commercial truck or bus in order to accurately log hours of service (HOS) and keep a more detailed record of duty status (RODS).

What are the ELD legislation requirements?

In order to be compliant with the ELD legislation, an electronic logging device must be able to connect to and sync with the truck’s engine to record a variety of things, such as if the truck is in motion, when it is moving, where it is located, how far it has gone, and how long it has traveled. It also must allow for status changes, such as On-Duty, Off-Duty, and On-Duty Not Driving, and must be able to automatically select a status based on the vehicle’s movement. It also should be able to display RODS in an easy-to-read, graphic format and provide data to law enforcement and inspectors in a standardized format. The electronic log can be transmitted in a variety of ways, including e-mail, USB, or Bluetooth. The electronic logging device must also be provider-certified. Eventually, the FMCSA website will have a list of compliant devices.

If a driver’s route is shorter than 150 miles (short haul) or they keep logs no more than eight days in a thirty day period, then they are probably exempt from the ELD mandate. Vehicles manufactured before the year 2000 also are not required to be equipped with an electronic log. Vehicles already equipped with an electronic logging device have until the end of 2019 to either ensure the ELD is compliant with the FMCSA mandate or equip the vehicle with a new device that is compliant.

How might ELDs help the trucking and transportation industry?

The ELD legislation is meant to restrict drivers from working longer than the required limits. This will hopefully improve commercial driver safety on the roads as well as improve the safety of others. In addition, the ELD legislation contains provisions to protect drivers from harassment so that motor carriers cannot pressure drivers into hours-of-service violations or fatigued driving situations. Theoretically, the ELD mandate has the potential to save more than 20 lives and prevent at least 400 injuries every year.

In addition to the safety benefits, electronic logging devices are expected to save the industry $1 billion annually. With ELDs, drivers and managers will spend less time filling out paperwork, and the government will spend less time going through it all. With a shorter and easier way to fill out and process HOS logs, the industry can put greater focus on the hauls.

What might be the downsides to the ELD legislation?

There are concerns that electronic logging devices could lead to privacy violations and a “big brother” government style in the Department of Transportation. It has been suggested that the ELD mandate makes them more like electronic monitoring systems for law enforcement purposes alone. Some critics fear that the ELD mandate could breach the Fourth Amendment’s privacy protections.

Furthermore, there are additional concerns over the impact the ELD legislation will have on independent owner-operators and smaller carriers. While the costs are projected to be offset by the savings in the overall industry, many fear that the costs of implementing the ELDs could put small motor carriers and owner-operators out of business, allowing larger carriers to dominate the industry further simply due to the fact that they can afford the electronic logging systems.

So, where do we go from here with ELD legislation in place?

Well, the FMCSA rule gives drivers and motor carriers at least until 2017 to incorporate ELDs into their trucks and fleets. In the meantime, the OOIDA (Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association) is suing to have the ELD mandate overturned due to the aforementioned concerns. However, most proponents of the rule suggest installing ELDs in trucks sooner rather than later, if possible. If you do decide to get started right away, there are a variety of ELD options already available on the market. They have a diverse range of features and costs, so perhaps it’s worth taking a look to see if there’s something already out there that can help your business with the ELD mandate.