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ELDs Will Soon Replace Paper Log Books For Drivers and Carriers

It's long been a requirement for truck drivers to log their hours of service (HOS), or Record of Duty Status (RODS). This information has, up until now, been documented in paper form by drivers and submitted to their employer and authorities. In 2015, however, a new mandate was introduced requiring truckers to use ELDs, or Electronic Logging Devices. But, just how does this semi-truck technology work, who is required to use them and how long do companies have to implement them by law?

How Does an ELD Work?

An ELD is a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) registered device that is connected to a truck's engine to track the truck's movement, or lack thereof. According to the FMSCA, electronic logging devices will record relevant data such as the current date, time, location of the vehicle at all times. What's more, it will document the total engine hours and vehicle miles within set intervals of time. Additionally, information such as the identity of the driver, as well as identifying information about the vehicle, and motor carrier that owns it. The device will also allow drivers to log in and choose a status, such as "on-duty", "off-duty", or "on-duty and not driving". The data will be compiled in a standardized format that companies can share will law enforcement and others within the organization via wireless services.

When are ELDs Required?

The new ELD Rule applies to the vast majority of motor carriers and drivers operating heavy-duty trucks, buses and other commercial vehicles. These individuals and companies are generally already required to maintain accurate records of duty status (RODS). The rule also applies to commercial buses and trucks operated by Canadian and Mexican drivers operating cross-border operations. However, there are exceptions to the rule. Those that use paper logs for 8 days or less per 30 day period, are moving an empty vehicle for sale, lease, or repairs and drivers of vehicles manufactured before 2000 are excluded.

Implementation Timeline

The mandate for ELD usage is being rolled out in phases, which began in February 16, 2016 and carries on through December 18, 2017. This is considered the Awareness and Transition Stage and allows companies time to prepare for and voluntarily comply with the ruling. The second phase is the Phased-In Compliance Phase, which requires that registered ELDs be used, except by those already using Automatic On Board Recording Devices (AOBRDS) that were installed prior to December 18, 2017. Finally, the Full Compliance Phase begins on December 18, 2017 and all drivers and carriers subject to the rule must be in full compliance, and using an approved ELD by December 16, 2019.

ELDs promise to make driver's lives easier by eliminating the time-consuming process of logging hours of service. They will also give carriers better insight into their fleets so that adjustments can be made to personnel, equipment, or scheduling to assure compliance. Finally, this technology will allow valuable information to be shared in a consistent manner across the industry.