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What is an ELD?

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An electronic logging device is a tablet computer carried in the truck cab. It records data regarding the operation of the vehicle, as well as driver activity including driver hours of service (HOS) and record of duty status (RODS).

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What is an ELD?

Electronic logging devices, or ELDs, are becoming an integral part of commercial trucking. This technology provides an accurate, simple means of keeping the records that drivers and fleet operators are required by law to maintain.

The United States Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration specifies that ELD use will be mandatory for most commercial vehicles beginning Dec. 18, 2017 and for all vehicles covered under this legislation by Dec. 16, 2019.

It’s important to recognize that ELDs do not impose an additional layer of regulation on the trucking industry. Instead, these devices are designed to make an already-required daily task easier to perform.

What Does an ELD Do?

Vehicle information captured and transmitted by the ELD includes:

  • Vehicle identification
  • Motor carrier identification
  • Date
  • Time
  • Geographic location
  • Miles traveled
  • Engine power up and shutdown
  • Yard moves
  • 60-minute intervals of motion
  • Engine diagnostics and malfunction

Driver information includes:

  • Driver or authorized user identification
  • Driver logon/logoff
  • Hours of service (HOS)
  • Duty status changes (driving, on duty, off duty)
  • Personal use
  • Certification of driver’s daily record

The ELD records these data automatically, but some entries can be manually edited or annotated by the driver or support staff. Edits are tracked and have to be approved by the driver.

ELDs are connected to the vehicle’s engine providing a wealth of data for carriers. The information is uploaded to a telematics system where managers and office personnel can review HOS statuses, run reports and create compliant routes. Businesses can also determine which routes cost the most fuel and time, which drivers need further instruction, and which routes are the most profitable for the company. HOS data may also be displayed on the tablet in the cab, so that the driver can refer to it at any time or present it at a roadside inspection.

ELDs Replace Other Recording Systems

Drivers and fleet managers have used different methods to record vehicle and driver information. At first this was a paper logbook with handwritten entries. Some fleets still use this system, but they must begin operating ELDs in their vehicles before the Dec. 18, 2017 deadline.

Another technology is an Automatic On Board Recording Device, or AOBRD. These are automated but do not perform all the functions of an ELD as specified in the updated technical requirements of the ELD mandate, which is why they must be upgraded or replaced by Dec. 16, 2019.

Some drivers record their hours of service using a personal device — generally a mobile phone or laptop — together with an app that stores and sends this information. This must be replaced by an ELD on or before Dec. 18, 2017.

An ELD is the only technology that meets all the requirements, as shown here:

Integrally Synchronized System No Yes No Yes
Automatic Recording of HOS No Yes No/Maybe Yes
Technical Specifications Approved by FMCSA No Limited No Yes
Registered with FMCSA No No No Yes
Meets ELD requirements on Decemebr 18, 2017 No Temporary* No Yes

*Vehicles equipped with an AOBRD prior to December 18, 2017, are in compliance until December 16, 2019, by which time the AOBRD must be upgraded or replaced with an ELD.

Why ELDs Are Necessary

The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is responsible for encouraging safe-driving practices in the commercial trucking industry. That includes oversight of vehicle safety and all drivers’ records of duty status.

The agency determined that the traditional method used for keeping these records — paper logbooks — was inadequate in meeting the standards for safety and accuracy. Paper logs are prone to error — and collecting, inspecting, revising and storing paperwork is a needless administrative burden in the digital age. They are intended to safeguard drivers from coercion and harassment and protect drivers’ rights.

Electronic logging devices offer advantages to the agency and to trucking fleets or individual operators — in efficiency and ease of use. They make the daily job of keeping records simpler, faster and smarter.

Benefits of ELDs

Vehicle fleets and drivers who have made the conversion to ELDs say that they’d never wish to return to the systems they used before.

With ELDs, they have eliminated having to deal with large amounts of paper. They can make entries to the log in seconds, using simple onscreen commands. Many drivers report that they’ve significantly reduced the amount of administrative work they used to have when filling out, checking and revising paper logbooks.

As ELDs automate much of the process, the possibility of error is decreased, so that drivers and managers spend less time and labor resolving issues with the authorities over disputed entries.

ELDs speed up and simplify roadside inspections, which translates to more time spent on the move.

These electronic logging devices mean less work for federal and local authorities, fleet managers and drivers.

Get ELD-Ready

Different brands and models of ELDs offer a variety of features to choose from, in configurations adapted to the requirements of a particular fleet or industry segment.

The first step in selecting the best ELD solution for your needs is to define what features you require.

Experts recommend allowing ample lead time in order to make sure the system is installed and tested and staff members are fully trained, well in advance of the ELD deadline.

Another very sound reason for implementing ELDs as soon as possible is so that you can begin realizing the advantages in efficiency, reduced overhead and cost savings.

It’s also a good business decision to upgrade your operations ahead of the competition.

For more information on how to get your fleet ELD ready, check out The FMCSA’s checklist for both carriers and drivers: