The ELD (Electronic Logging Device) mandate is a regulation issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requiring all commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in the United States to use electronic logging devices to record their hours of service (HOS). HOS laws have existed for nearly 100 years; the ELD mandate did not change those requirements. It merely stated records of duty (RODS) must be kept using an authorized and approved ELD. The ELD mandate took effect on December 18, 2017, and since then, compliance with HOS requirements can only be recorded via an ELD.
The implementation of the ELD mandate transformed the trucking industry in significant ways, both good and bad. Let’s take a closer look.
Why was the Regulation Needed?
The primary goal of the ELD mandate was to improve road safety by reducing the number of accidents caused by driver fatigue. According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fatigue contributes to a significant percentage of fatal crashes involving commercial vehicles. The ELD mandate was designed to address this issue by ensuring drivers take active steps to prevent fatigue.
Before the ELD mandate, truck drivers were allowed to use paper logbooks to record their HOS. These logbooks were easy to neglect and easily falsifiable, leading to inaccurate record-keeping and low levels of compliance. The ELD rules eliminate these problems by requiring drivers to use electronic logging devices that automatically record their driving time, duty status, and rest breaks. The devices are tamper-proof and cannot be altered, ensuring accurate record-keeping and higher compliance rates.
Key Elements of ELD
The key points of the ELD mandate include the following:
- Commercial drivers must use an ELD to prepare HOS records of duty status.
- Approved ELDs must meet prescribed performance and design standards and be certified and registered with FMCSA.
- Drivers and carriers are required to maintain specified supporting records.
- Harassment of drivers based on ELD data is prohibited, and recourses are provided for drivers who have been harassed.
What is an ELD?
An ELD, an electronic logbook, monitors a commercial vehicle’s location, engine hours, movement, and operating miles. ELDs are available in different forms, including GPS-like devices and certified smartphones. The advantages of ELDs are data is easy to collect, easy to transfer, and difficult to change after the fact. It’s also possible to pair an ELD with a fleet management system to make overseeing transport activity and vehicle monitoring simpler and more effective than ever before.
Impact of ELD Mandates
Folks involved in trucking were concerned about how the ELD requirement would impact the industry. Four years in, the results still need to be determined. In general, it’s unclear if the mandate has impacted safety as intended. That said, here’s what we know so far, good and bad:
Improved Compliance with HOS Rules
One of the main goals of the ELD mandate was to ensure drivers comply with existing HOS rules. The devices automatically record driving time and rest breaks, ensuring drivers abide by the required time off before returning to the wheel. With ELDs in place, drivers cannot manipulate their logbooks to meet deadlines or make up for lost time.
Improved Accuracy of Record-Keeping
Another significant impact of the ELD mandate is the improved accuracy of record-keeping. ELDs automatically record driving time, duty status, and rest breaks, eliminating the need for manual entry. This has reduced the number of errors and omissions and made it easier for authorities to verify compliance with HOS rules. The devices also provide real-time information on driver availability, making it easier for dispatchers to manage schedules and reduce delays.
Increased Use of Technology
The ELD mandate has led to increased use of technology in the trucking industry across the board. ELDs are just one of many technological innovations transforming the industry; tools such as GPS tracking and predictive maintenance systems are helping trucking companies improve efficiency, reduce costs, and increase safety.
Increased Cost of Compliance
Implementing the ELD mandate has come with a cost for the trucking industry. According to the FMCSA, the average cost of an electronic logging device is around $500 per unit plus annual maintenance costs. For fleets, this cost can be significant. Savings in time can offset some of the cost drivers spend manually maintaining logbooks and improve efficiency gained by pairing the devices with fleet management systems. However, adding ELDs still negatively impacts the bottom line, at least in the short term.
Reduction in Capacity
Another impact of the ELD mandate is a reduction in capacity. The strict compliance with HOS rules brought by ELDs has sometimes made it more challenging to meet tight deadlines and schedules. When a driver’s HOS time is up, they have to stop and rest, even if they’re only an hour away from their destination. Many drivers are forced to stop and park before running out of hours. Dock delays are a bigger problem, as they may jeopardize a driver’s entire schedule. The actual impact vastly differs between local vs. long-haul trucking, requiring different carriers to respond differently. All this has led to a reduction in capacity and increased shipping costs for some companies.
Good or bad, the ELD mandate is here to stay. On balance, ELDs are more helpful than harmful. But running a profitable trucking business using ELDs is different than “the old way.” Here are a handful of best practices that can help your business make the adjustment:
- Have reserved parking spaces for your trucks when they run out of hours. Finding truck parking is becoming a significant challenge.
- Expand the times available for loading and unloading.
- Improve the efficiency of unloading and loading.
- Review your layover and detention policies and make changes as needed.
- Expand your fleet. Arrow Truck Sales has an outstanding selection of quality used trucks for sale at unbeatable prices. Our customer service is the best you’ll find, and we provide exceptional after-purchase protection and services. Give us a call today to learn how we can help you increase capacity and profitability in the face of the ELD mandate.