You’ve probably heard it by now: The ELD mandate is bound to happen, and the only thing left to do for trucking companies is to prepare for it.
While many people have a negative outlook towards ELD implementation, it’s worth saying that a good number of these negative perceptions came from myths or straight-up lies about ELDs and what these devices have to offer (more on this below).
In most cases, fleet managers and CMV drivers enjoyed using ELDs because of the various benefits these electronic logging devices offer. Yes, the additional cost does seem like an extra burden to fleets, but ELDs also have many benefits that often outweigh the cost — especially if you have the right ELD solution.
Some fleet managers, trucking company owners, and truck drivers are still a little confused about the ELD mandate, its impact on the trucking industry, and what to expect from the ELD rule.
This blog post is meant to clarify such confusions.
In this post, we start by discussing relevant terms that you should know, the ELD mandate deadline, myths, facts, benefits, and everything in between.
At the end of this post, you’d have a better understanding of the ELD mandate and how ELDs work. At that point, you’d be able to make an educated decision towards how you should receive the ELD mandate and prepare for it.
Let’s get started.
An ELD is an electronic logging device that connects to the vehicle’s diagnostic port, which then allows the device to automatically track the movements of a vehicle, driving time, and other pertinent data required by the DOT inspector.
ABORDs are devices that are meant to record or track a driver’s duty status automatically and accurately. It is the term used when referring to the technology regulated by §395.15. According to FMCSA’s final ELD rule, eligible vehicles will need ELDs to be fully compliant. AOBRDs can only keep them compliant until 2019. Beyond that, fleets will need certified ELDs.
EOBR is the term meant to replace AOBRD. The term EOBR does not officially exist anymore.
The Hours-of-Service (HOS) regulations limit the driving hours of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs). It is a regulation issued by the FMCSA. Most CMV drivers need to follow Hours-of-Service rules and regulations to be compliant and avoid penalties and fines.
The FMCSA is a federal government agency that is mainly responsible for regulating and enforcing safety rules for CMVs (Commercial Motor Vehicles). The agency’s mission is to prevent fatalities, road crashes, and injuries involving commercial motor vehicles.
RODS is more commonly known as the driver’s log. It is a document used by drivers to record and track their time.
The organization’s purpose is to protect the rights of all professional truck drivers.
As mentioned earlier, the purpose of ELD mandate is to improve road safety and prevent accidents. Therefore, the mandate requires FMCSA-certified ELDs to be installed in commercial motor vehicles.
Several studies and researches have shown that driver fatigue is the biggest reason behind road accidents. ELDs play an instrumental role in minimizing driver fatigue by notifying drivers of upcoming HOS violations.
CMVs that are not exempt from the ELD mandate must install ELDs by December 2017. However, if they already have AOBRDs installed, they have until 2019 to comply with the mandate.
Not everyone has to install ELDs, though. There are four exemptions to the ELD mandate:
1. Vehicles manufactured before 2000. The threshold is based on the truck’s manufacturing date which can be found in the last 4-digits of its VIN (Vehicle Identification Number).
2. Trucks used for towaway or driveaway operations.
3. Drivers who are not required to maintain their RODS.
4. Drivers who maintain RODS for less than eight days in a thirty-day period.
If you belong to any of the above 4 categories, the ELD mandate does not apply to you.
OOIDA challenged the ELD mandate last year in September. By October, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals released their decision in favor of the FMCSA, keeping the ELD mandate in place.
These are the arguments presented by the OOIDA:
“(a) ELDs will not record enough information automatically; (b) the rule fails to protect drivers sufficiently from harassment; (c) the rule’s benefits will not outweigh its costs; (d) the rule fails to protect the confidentiality of personal data collected by ELDs; and (e) the rule violates the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures.” – (Source – UScourts.gov)
It’s important to note that the same court rejected the 2010 ELD mandate published by FMCSA. The court’s previous decision was based on the grounds that the 2010 mandate didn’t protect truckers adequately (via the devices) against harassment by carriers.
However, now the court believes that the latest ELD rule has successfully addressed those issues. This is the reason the U.S. court rejected OOIDA’s claim and released their decision in favor of the FMCSA and the latest ELD mandate.
Here is a brief history — and timeline — of the ELD mandate, if you are interested.
1980 – The trucking industry has been using electronic logging devices to track their Hours-of-Service.
1988 – Formal regulations have been made, and the AOBRD (and its uses) is defined.
2000 – The FMCSA proposed regulations requiring the use of ELDs.
2004 – The court declined FMCSA’s proposed regulations..
2010 – The FMCSA published a final rule requiring carriers who had terrible HOS issues to use electronic recorders. The OOIDA challenged the rule in the same year.
2012 – The court ruled in favor of the OOIDA. The FMCSA’s 2010 mandate was canceled.
2012 – The MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century) Bill was passed by the US Congress. The Bill required the FMCSA to pass a rule requiring the use of ELDs. This was when the term ELD was introduced. The term was meant to replace the previous terms (AOBRD and EOBR).
2014 – The mandate was forwarded to legislation.
2015 – The ELD mandate’s final version was released.
2016 – The OOIDA challenged the ELD mandate. The SCCA ruled in favor of the FMCSA in the same year and upheld the mandate.
When it comes to ELDs and the ELD mandate, there are a lot of myths circulating around. Here we highlight 4 of the biggest myths.
For a more detailed version, here is a list of 17 big ELD myths.
ELDs don’t have to be expensive. Different ELD manufacturers are charging different prices — and there’s a lot of difference between those prices. If trucking companies just talk to several ELD providers to check out what they have to offer and how much they charge, trucking companies would realize that there is such a big difference between how much ELD manufacturers are charging.
For instance, some ELD providers charge over $500 per month for a single device while charging extra for installation and hardware. At the same time, there are ELD vendors that charge less than $30 per month per device without charging anything extra for installation or hardware.
As mentioned earlier, there is a lot of difference.
The key here is to talk to different ELD vendors and find out what they are charging. To make things easier for you, we have created a ELD price comparison chart. It’s completely free to use and tells you exactly what different ELD providers are charging.
If anything, ELDs are meant to do the exact opposite.
Without ELDs, drivers have to manually track the number of hours they have left to stay within their HOS limits. They also have to maintain paper logs. All these tasks are mentally exhausting and distracting.
ELDs solve that problem.
Since ELDs track (and log) their time automatically, truck drivers won’t have to spend any time on that. Also, ELDs track driving time based on Hours-of-Service rules and notify drivers for upcoming HOS violations.
In summary, ELDs do not distract drivers. Instead, they simplify the driving experience by automating a lot of tasks.
This isn’t true.
ELDs will only generate the reports once processed by the fleet managers or drivers. It doesn’t send the reports automatically to the authorities.
ELDs don’t invade drivers’ privacy. In fact, it often protects their privacy.
The court also ruled against OOIDA on this point. Additionally, ELDs also protect drivers against driver coercion and harassment.
ELDs or electronic logging devices offer many benefits. In fact, many fleets which are exempt from the ELD mandate are also installing ELDs because of these benefits.
It, of course, depends on specific ELD solutions and manufacturers, but following are some of the most common and biggest benefits of ELDs.
Pro Tip: When you are buying ELDs for your fleets, make sure that the ELD solution you’re buying has the following features and benefits.
While there are several areas to cover when talking about the ELD mandate, the points mentioned above are some of the most crucial ones.
If you need more help understanding the ELD mandate and what you need to do about it, you can check out other resources on our website or contact in case you have any specific questions.