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Electronic Logging Device (ELD)

Jenna Phipps
Last Updated May 24, 2021 8:03 am

An electronic logging device (ELD) connects to a commercial motor vehicle’s engine and tracks its driving time. The ELD standard is a mandate implemented by the Federal Department of Transportation, intended to increase safety and accountability for drivers and motor carrier organizations. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sets these requirements, initially mandating that they be implemented by December 2017.

What does an ELD do?

An ELD connects to a motor carrier’s engine (often a large truck engine) and tracks each hour that the vehicle drives. This replaces manual logs, which drivers often kept by paper, recording their own driving hours. Those could be manipulated. By automatically tracking how far a truck has driven, an ELD also saves drivers time and work.

The ELD standard is meant to force drivers to accurately record the driving hours they’re allotted so they don’t exhaust themselves. Researchers have found that tiredness causes the majority of driving accidents, and the ELD standard is intended to minimize that.

If drivers were previously driving too long, having an ELD device prohibits them from falsifying their timesheets. It also protects them from managers who might push them to drive farther without a break. ELDs also have features that prohibit road safety officials or motor carrier companies from harassing drivers: a compliant ELD must be able to be put in sleep mode or have alerts turned off so that drivers can sleep uninterrupted.

What are ELD requirements for drivers and vehicles?

An ELD is required for most commercial motor carrier vehicles, with a few exceptions (including trucks with an engine older than the year 2000). It’s required for all drivers who need records of duty status (RODS), which are daily driving logs, and all drivers who need RODS graph-grids. Drivers who have an ELD need to also have an ELD user’s manual, instructions for transferring records into a format that officials can view, and instructions for handling any technical issues with their ELD.

Drivers should be able to provide an accurate, updated record of their driving hours when requested. ELDs provide digital reports of driving hours.

FMCSA permits drivers to use a personal mobile device for an ELD as long as it complies with all ELD requirements. All market ELD devices also need to be fully compliant with FMCSA’s regulations before motor carriers can install them in their trucks; otherwise, they risk penalty. ELD providers offer a variety of features on their devices, including messaging capabilities and vehicle GPS tracking.