An Electronic Logging Device or ELD is required by the Department of Transportation (DOT) to accurately record a vehicle’s driving hours. This device is connected to the engine itself, and the system provides a monitor for the driver to make sure they are aware. Most also have the ability to connect to a printer or directly print the driver’s log at mandatory DOT inspections. ELDs are essentially an answer to the old problem of driver’s forging their handwritten logbooks.

It’s important to note that ELD compliance regulations have been updated for 2020, with a few notable changes. A driver who is not in compliance with these regulations could be at risk for stiff fines and other punitive measures through the DOT and potentially through their employer.

Who Is Exempt From The New ELD Requirements?

There are a few types of drivers who are considered exempt from the FMCSA’s guidelines. This includes:

Drivers and commercial motor vehicles that use paper “Record Of Duty Status” for eight days or less out of every 30-day period.

Tow truck operators and other professionals who perform driveaway-towaway operations. Though only in a situation where the vehicle being driven is treated as a commodity being delivered.

Commercial motor vehicles that were manufactured before the year 2000.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can A Commercial Vehicle Operator Still Use An AOBRD?

There was a grace period offered to commercial vehicle operators who were “Grandfathered In” when it came to compliance. However, this window of time was intended to give fleets and operators time to make the transition to compliant ELDs and that window closed on December 16th, 2019.

How Are ELD Mode And AOBRD Mode Different?

An AOBRD mode device can synchronize with the commercial motor vehicle’s engine to record data, however, most cannot support the required data transfer methods that are necessary to be compliant with the new ELD rule. This is often related to the “Telematics” features that allow DOT inspectors to access the information via web services or a and local transfer methods like Bluetooth or USB.

This essentially means that while your commercial vehicle’s AOBRD device might be grandfathered in, that you could experience significant delays during DOT inspections. These are of course delays that can be negated by simply upgrading to an ELD compliant device.

Driver’s Checklist For ELD Compliance Features

Per the new ELD rules issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, a compliant device must allow the driver to enter or affect data in the following ways:

  • Log in and log out of their personal driver account
  • Select and change their duty status category
  • Enter and identifiable location description
  • Manually input information and notes
  • Make annotations
  • Edit and correct any inaccurate records
  • Identify and report ELD malfunctions to the carrier

Of course, a driver or operator must also be able to personally review and certify the accuracy of the data the device records.

This includes

  • The ability to confirm or reject any proposed edits including those put in by support personnel
  • The ability to personally certify their Record Of Duty Status

Furthermore, there are also telematics standards and features that a certified ELD device must be capable of performing. This includes:

  • The ability to transfer the Record Of Duty Status electronically at the roadside
  • Enter any pertinent comments supplied by safety officials and DOT inspectors
  • Confirm the successful submission of the ELD data by the device

ELD Compliance For Administrative And Support Staff

It’s also worth bearing in mind that there are some ELD features that must be compliant for administrative and support staff. The following standards are in place to ensure driver/operator compliance as well as to certify accuracy. This includes:

  • The ability to log in as Support Personnel
  • The ability to create or deactivate a driver’s account
  • The ability to update a driver or operators account status
  • Entering all pertinent driver information accurately
  • The ability to configure exempt driver accounts for those who meet the exemption standards
  • The ability to Assign unidentified driving time
  • A feature that allows support staff to request edits to non-driving time information
  • The ability to make annotations
  • The ability to transfer the Record Of Duty Status electronically
  • The ability to provide the requested information to a safety official as part of a safety audit
  • The option to enter comments supplied by a safety official
  • Confirm the successful submission of ELD data

What Should I Do If My ELD Device Isn’t Compliant?

Obviously, there are serious consequences for operating a non-exempt commercial motor vehicle without a compliant ELD device. This is exactly the sort of thing that can spring up on fleet managers, support staff, drivers, and operators for a vehicle that has been out of service for several months. This might be due to maintenance or changes in transport volume. At the same time, independent contractors who work seasonally may have missed the new ELD mandate information leaving them vulnerable to stiff repercussions.

Fortunately, a wide range of manufacturers has been hard at work creating ELD devices to suit just about any commercial driver’s needs. Fleet managers might also be interested to know that buying multiple units at a time can save a significant amount of money on the per-unit cost.

Are There Penalties For Operating A Commercial Motor Vehicle Without A Compliant ELD?

The type of infraction and other possible infractions with a transport load of a vehicle can sway the overall penalty cost for not being ELD compliant. Though even minor non-compliance issues can be significant.

For example, a non-exempt driver could be fined anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 for operating a commercial motor vehicle without a compliant ELD. At the same time, the North American Transportation Association estimates an average fine of $2,867 to the operator with the highest reported fine ringing in at a staggering $13,680!

It’s also worth noting that non-compliance with the new ELD mandate will likely also impact your SMS score from the Safety Measurement System. This could have a severe impact on other aspects of business costs and operations.

When you consider the gravity of these potential penalties and you weight them against the very reasonable costs of simply purchasing a compliant device, a new ELD pays for itself in the veritable blink of an eye.