Facts and Fiction: Understanding the Electronic Logging Device Requirement

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By: Abigail Potter, Manager of Safety and Occupational Health Policy, American Trucking Associations

Implementation of the FMCSA’s electronic logging device (ELD) requirement is only a few weeks away. On December 18, 2017, all drivers that currently maintain paper logs will be required to use an ELD for hours of service (HOS) compliance. Before the deadline, both motor carriers and professional drivers will need to ensure their operations are prepared for the ELD rule requirements.

Misconceptions about the ELD rule have been prevalent on message boards and around watercoolers in some corners of the industry. FMCSA, ATA, State Trucking Associations, and many other organizations have worked hard to combat misinformation with the use of educational materials, webinars, and a national road tour. Here are a few of the most common myths about the ELD requirement:

Myth: The ELD requirement is mandatory for all large trucks.

The ELD rule requires that all drivers currently required to maintain a paper log more than 8 days in a 30 day period log their HOS compliance using an ELD with limited exceptions. Currently, these limited exceptions include drivers who operate a vehicle manufactured before model year 2000, and drivers who use the logbook timecard exception (a.k.a short haul exception, and drivers conducting driveaway-towaway operations where the vehicle driven is the commodity). Additionally, motor carriers with automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) installed on trucks before the December 18, 2017 deadline will have until December 18, 2019 to switch those trucks over to ELD devices.

Myth: The ELD mandate made changes to HOS.

The federal HOS regulations did not change under the ELD rule. The use of an ELD will not cause the truck to shut down but the ELD will record the driver going over their allotted hours. As under the current regulations, drivers should always look for safe parking options long before they are out of hours. FMCSA is currently working on enforcement guidance for drivers cited for HOS violations of less than 15 minutes. Additionally, the ELD rule made no changes to the regulations associated with personal conveyances or yard moves.

Myth: Drivers are going to be taken out-of-service if their ELD malfunctions. 

ELDs must be able to electronically transfer information to law enforcement either through wireless web services and email or with a USB2.0 port and Bluetooth. If the electronic transfer fails, the driver can either present a printout of his or her logs or show the actual ELD display to the officer. Law enforcement will then use this to verify HOS compliance. In the event an ELD device needs repair, the driver will be required to notify the motor carrier within 24 hours and reconstruct his or her logs on graph grid paper logs for the current 24 hour period and the previous 7 days unless the driver already has the records or can retrieve them from the ELD. The ELD must be repaired or replaced within 8 days.

Myth: The use of portable devices, like smartphones or tablets, is not allowed.

While some motor carriers will choose to use permanently installed ELDs specific in their fleets, the use of portable devices, including smartphones or other wireless devices are allowed provided they meet the ELD rule’s technical specifications. FMCSA requires that all portable devices must be mounted in a fixed position while the CMV is in operation and must be visible when the driver is seated in a normal driving position. The device must also be integrally synchronized with the engine electronic control module (ECM) to allow it to automatically capture required information. This typically requires an adapter that is plugged into the ECM port.

Myth: With an ELD, drivers are no longer required to keep supporting documentation of HOS.

In the final rule, FMCSA laid out new supporting documentation rules that limit the maximum number of documents a carrier must retain. Motor carriers are now only required to keep up to eight supporting documents for every 24-hour period. Drivers must submit these documents within 13 days and the carrier must keep them for 6 months. All drivers and motor carriers, regardless of logging method, must begin complying with these requirements on December 18, 2017.

Myth: Having a working ELD is all a driver needs to carry in the truck to ensure compliance.

There are a few other documents a driver must possess and produce upon request to ensure compliance. They are:

  • A user manual describing how to use the ELD;
  • An instruction sheet describing the data transfer method supported by the ELD including step-by-step instructions to produce and transfer the driver’s records to enforcement;
  • An instruction sheet detailing the ELD malfunctioning reporting requirements and the recordkeeping procedures during ELD malfunctions; and
  • At least an 8 day supply of blank hours of service graph-grid logs to be used in the event of an ELD malfunction.
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The American Trucking Associations prepared these materials for HireRight for informational purposes only. These materials are not intended to be comprehensive, and are not a substitute for, and should not be construed as, legal advice. The American Trucking Associations and HireRight do not warrant any statements in these materials. Employers should direct to their own experienced legal counsel questions involving their organization’s compliance with or interpretation or application of laws or regulations and any additional legal requirements that may apply.


American Trucking Associations

The American Trucking Associations, founded in 1933, is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry.

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