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Top 20 ELD Questions Answered


As the deadline for compliance with the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate looms, many truckers have questions about the new technology.

In order to help truckers better understand the ELD rule, the FMCSA has issued a thorough list of the most frequently asked questions and answers to help you to prepare for the December 18, 2017 compliance date. We’d like to share the top questions in this post but we’ll include the full FAQ below so that you can take a look.

Frequently Asked Questions About Electronic Logging Devices

1. Who must comply with the electronic logging device (ELD) rule?

The ELD rule allows limited exceptions to the ELD mandate, including:

  • Drivers who operate under the short-haul exceptions may continue using timecards; they are not required to keep RODS and will not be required to use ELDs.
  • Drivers who use paper RODS for not more than 8 days out of every 30-day period.
  • Drivers who conduct drive-away-tow-away operations, in which the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered.
  • Drivers of vehicles manufactured before 2000.

The ELD applies to most motor carriers and drivers who are currently required to maintain records of duty status (RODS) per Part 395, 49 CFR 395.8(a). The rule applies to commercial buses as well as trucks, and to Canada- and Mexico-domiciled drivers.

2. Who is exempt from the ELD rule? 

Drivers who use the timecard exception are not required to keep records of duty status (RODS) or use ELDs. Additionally, the following drivers are not required to use ELDs; however, they are still bound by the RODS requirements in 49 CFR 395 and must prepare logs on paper, using an Automatic On-Board Recording Device (AOBRD), or with a logging software program when required:

  • Drivers who use paper RODS for not more than 8 days out of every 30-day period.
  • Drivers who conduct drive-away-tow-away operations, where the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered.
  • Drivers of vehicles manufactured before 2000.

3. Are Canada- and Mexico-domiciled drivers required to use electronic logging devices (ELDs) when they are operating in the United States? 

Yes. Canada- and Mexico-domiciled drivers must comply with the Federal hours of service rules while operating in the United States. This includes using ELDs unless they qualify for one of the exceptions. A driver operating in multiple jurisdictions will be able to annotate the driver’s record of duty status on the ELD with information on periods of operation outside the United States.

4. Can an electronic logging device (ELD) be on a smartphone or other wireless device?

Yes. An ELD can be on a smartphone or other wireless device if the device meets the ELD rule’s technical speci cations.

5. What electronic logging device (ELD) user documentation must be onboard a driver’s commercial motor vehicle? 

Beginning on December 18, 2017, a driver using an ELD must have an ELD information packet onboard the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) containing the following items:

1. A user’s manual for the driver describing how to operate the ELD;

2. An instruction sheet describing the data transfer mechanisms supported by the ELD and step-by-step instructions to produce and transfer the driver’s hours-of-service records to an authorized safety official;

3. An instruction sheet for the driver describing ELD malfunction reporting requirements and recordkeeping procedures during ELD malfunctions; and

4. A supply of blank driver’s records of duty status (RODS) graph-grids suf cient to record the driver’s duty status and other related information for a minimum of 8 days.

Prior to December 18, 2017, FMCSA recommends that drivers have the user’s manual, malfunction instruction sheet, and graph-grids.

6. What electronically transferred data from electronic logging devices (ELDs) will be retained by Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and other authorized safety officials?

FMCSA will not retain any ELD data unless there is a violation.

7. How should an ELD record a driver’s hours of service when operating in another country such as Canada?

The ELD provider may tailor the device to its customers’ needs/operations to assist them in accurately monitoring drivers’ hours of service compliance. This includes cross-border operations.

8. Can a driver use an ELD on a commercial motor vehicle with a model year older than 2000?

Yes. However, the ELD must comply with the ELD rule’s technical speci cations. The ELD may use alternative sources to obtain or estimate the required vehicle parameters, in accordance with the accuracy requirements in Section 4.3.1 of the ELD rule.

9. How soon can electronic logging devices (ELDs) be installed and used in commercial motor vehicles (CMVs)?

Since February 16, 2016, ELD manufacturers have been able to register and self-certify their ELDs with FMCSA, and motor carriers have been able to elect to use ELDs listed on the website. All motor carriers and drivers subject to the requirements in the ELD rule must begin using an ELD or “grandfathered AOBRD” on December 18, 2017, the compliance date of the ELD rule.

10. What is a “grandfathered” automatic onboard recording device (AOBRD)?

A “grandfathered” AOBRD is a device that a motor carrier installed and required its drivers to use before the electronic logging device (ELD) rule compliance date of December 18, 2017. The device must meet the requirements of 49 CFR 395.15. A motor carrier may continue to use grandfathered AOBRDs no later than December 16, 2019. After that, the motor carrier and its drivers must use ELDs. See Section 395.15 (a) of the ELD final rule.

11. What will be the enforcement procedures for “grandfathered” automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) and electronic logging devices (ELD) during the two-year period following the compliance date of the ELD rule?

During the period when both “grandfathered” AOBRDs and ELDs will be used (December 18, 2017 to December 16, 2019), authorized safety of cials will enforce ELD rule requirements for ELDs and the requirements in 49 CFR 395.15 for “grandfathered” AOBRDs. The supporting document requirements for drivers and motor carriers using either device will take effect on the ELD rule compliance date of December 18, 2017.

12. What is the difference between “paper records of duty status (RODS)” and printouts of RODS from electronic logging devices (ELDs)?

“Paper RODS” means RODS that are not kept on an ELD or automatic onboard recording device (AOBRD), but that are either recorded manually (in accordance with 49 CFR 395.8(f)) or on a computer not synchronized with the vehicle or that is otherwise not quali ed to be an ELD or AOBRD. Printouts of RODS from ELDs are the reports that ELDs must be able to generate upon request from an authorized safety of cial, per section 4.8.1 of the ELD rule.

13. Who can edit an electronic logging device (ELD) record? 

Both the driver and authorized carrier staff can make limited edits to an ELD record to correct mistakes or add missing information. All edits must include a note (annotation) to explain the reason for the edit. In addition, the driver must con rm (certify) that any carrier edit is accurate, and resubmit the records. If the driver chooses not to re-certify RODs, this is also re ected in the ELD record.

The ELD must keep the original, unedited record, along with the edits. Example: a carrier edits a record to switch a period of time from “off-duty” to “on-duty not driving”, with a note that explains “Driver logged training time incorrectly as off-duty”. The edit and annotation are sent to the driver to verify. The edit is not accepted until the driver con rms it and resubmits the RODS.

14. Can a user edit or change driving time that has been recorded by an electronic logging device (ELD) to non-driving time?

No. An ELD automatically records all of the time that a CMV is in motion as driving time that cannot be edited or changed to non-driving time.

15. What must a driver do with unassigned driving time when he or she logs into the electronic logging device (ELD)?

A driver must review any unassigned driving time when he or she logs into the ELD. If the unassigned records do not belong to the driver, the driver must indicate that in the ELD record. If driving time logged under this unassigned account belongs to the driver, the driver must add that driving time to his or her own record.

16. If a driver is permitted to use a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) for personal reasons, how must the driving time be recorded?

The driver must identify the driving time as personal conveyance on the device.

17. How does the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule address harassment of drivers using ELDs?

The ELD rule has provisions to prevent the use of ELDs to harass drivers. FMCSA explicitly prohibits a motor carrier from harassing a driver, and provides that a driver may le a written complaint under 49 CFR 386.12(b) if the driver was subject to harassment. Technical provisions that address harassment include a mute function to ensure that a driver is not interrupted in the sleeper berth. Furthermore, the design of the ELD allows only limited edits of an ELD record by both the driver and the motor carrier’s agents, and in either case, the original ELD record cannot be changed. As a result, motor carriers will be limited in forcing drivers to violate the hours of service (HOS) rules without leaving an electronic trail that would point to the original and revised records. The driver certification is also intended, in part, to protect drivers from unilateral changes—a factor that drivers identi ed as contributing to harassment.

Harassment will be considered in cases of alleged hours of service (HOS) violations; therefore, the penalty for harassment is in addition to the underlying violation under 49 CFR 392.3 or part 395. An underlying HOS violation must be found for a harassment penalty to be assessed.

18. Does the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule require real-time tracking of commercial motor vehicle (CMVs) with ELDs?

No. Real-time tracking of CMVs is not required in the ELD rule. However, a motor carrier may use technology to track its CMVs in real time for business purposes. A motor carrier is free to use this data as long as it does not engage in harassment or violate the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs).

19. What information is automatically recorded by an electronic logging device (ELD)?

An ELD automatically records the following data elements at certain intervals: date; time; location information; engine hours; vehicle miles; and identi cation information for the driver, authenticated user, vehicle, and motor carrier.

20. When will an electronic logging device (ELD) automatically start to record a driving mode or status?

An ELD must automatically switch to driving mode once the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) is moving up to a set speed threshold of ve miles per hour. As a result, the in-motion state must not be con gured greater than ve miles per hour. The vehicle will be considered stopped once its speed falls to zero miles per hour and stays at zero miles per hour for three consecutive seconds.

For more information, check out the full FMCSA ELD FAQ below.

[su_document url=”https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/sites/fmcsa.dot.gov/files/docs/ELD_Rule_Frequently_Asked_Questions_0.pdf” width=”700″]Trucker’s Letter To Paul Ryan In Washington[/su_document]


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