ELD Compliance in 2020: What You Need to Know

The Electric Logging Device (ELD) Rule was put into effect by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on December 18, 2017. This mandate was softly enforced, giving the transportation industry time to become compliant by December 16, 2019. This is the date to ensure all trucks had a working electronic logging device (ELD). Below is more information on the upcoming changes regarding ELD compliance:

What is an Electronic Logging Device?

Before delving into what changes can be expected in 2020 with ELD compliance, it’s important to understand what ELD means. An ELD is a device that tracks service hours. It is designed to replace devices like an Electronic on-Board Recorder (EOBR) or an Automatic On-Board Recording Device (AOBRD). These devices track Record of Duty Statuses (RODs). ELDs must meet Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association standards to be considered in compliance with the ELD mandate.

ELD Compliance in 2020: What You Need to Know

ELD mandate compliance has been a gradual process as mentioned above. However, most motor carrier operations were ELD mandate compliant within the first months of the year 2018.  Operations that had previously used AOBRDs were given until December 16, 2019, to completely switch to an FMCSA approved ELD device. By 2020, ALL commercial motor vehicles are required to have an approved ELD installed to be considered compliant.

The Grace Period For Compliance is Slowly Ending

The grace period once given by officials to allow companies time to completely switch to ELDs is slowly ending. However, presently, there is still a bit of a grace period. Truck drivers who are pulled over for roadside inspections must have the following on board to avoid penalties.

Must Have Items to Avoid Penalties:

·       Instructions explaining the data transfer mechanism that is supported by ELD.

·       An instruction sheet that reports any ELD malfunctions.

·       A regulation-compliant, registered, certified ELD.

·       A user manual for the ELD.

·       Paper log sheets, serving as a back-up.

What Happens if Drivers Are Found Non-Compliant?

Drivers who are pulled over without the above items, without a grandfathered-in AOBRDs or who are not exempt from the mandate will be subject to a penalty in the form of a fine. This fine can be substantial, which could amount to thousands of dollars!

Upcoming Concerns and Issues About The ELD Mandate

Admittedly, adhering to the mandate and making the necessary changes to become ELD compliant is a massive undertaking. After all, there are thousands of trucks on the road at any given time in the United States. However, the safety improvement associated with the ELD mandate is expected to dramatically improve roadway conditions for both professional and pedestrian drivers. Consequently, the logistics of ELD implementation is worthwhile.

Problems That Could Creep Up in The Coming Months and Years

The following are some upcoming issues that might be problematic in the upcoming months and years relating to ELD compliance:

·       Crowded Rest Stops: ELD mandate determines the amount of rest hours a trucker should log. The need for them to log rest hours in order to be ELD compliant could lead to overcrowded rest stops.

·       More Fines And Tickets: Operators who continue to push back against the ELD mandate will face ever growing penalties, which means more tickets and fines. This problem will diminish as more and more operators become compliant.   

·       ELDs Aren’t Always Allowed: Some areas of the nation, like government contractor facilities, do not allow vehicles on property that have ELDs.

Additional Questions Answered About ELD Compliance

Who Must Comply With ELD Mandate?

The ELD mandate applies to most commercial motor vehicles. According to estimates, this represents over 3.5 million truckers. If drivers wonder if they will fall under the mandate and be required to comply, they should consider the fact that in most cases, if they currently keep a logbook, they will be required to follow the ELD rule.

Are Any Drivers or Companies Exempt From The Rule?

Yes, there are some types of trucks that do not have to comply with the ELD mandate. They are as follows:

·       Short-haul drivers. These drivers log no more than 8 days of driving during a 30-day period and currently maintain a Record of Duty Status (RODS).

·       Short-haul drivers who have and maintain RODS.

·       Tow-away drivers.

·       Any vehicles that have a pre-2000 model engine.

What Are The ELD Mandate Compliance Requirements?

The following are the requirements to be considered ELD compliant:

·       Carriers and drivers must keep all supporting documents (as mentioned above) for a stipulated period of time.

·       All ELDs should be shared with law enforcing authorities and safety officials.

·       ELDs should be certified.

·       ELDs should conform in both technology and design to FMCSA standards.

How to Know if a Specific Device is ELD Compliant?

According to the FMCSA, you can access the registered ELD devices that are compliant with the mandate. They are listed here. Owners and operators should be aware that ELD systems that are cellular based can be a risky proposition. If a driver happens to travel outside the boundary of good cell service, their cellular coverage can become spotty or nonexistent. This, in turn, can mean driving data won’t be synced properly. The FMCSA recommends an ELD system that relies on USB and Bluetooth connections to relay data between the engine and the drivers’ mobile apps to prevent this problem.

Can The Use of Mobile E-Logs Take the Place of ELDs?

No. The ELD mandate demands ELD to be connected to the engine of the vehicle. Therefore, even an E-log is not a sufficient substitution and will not be considered ELD compliant.

The ELD Compliance Mandate is Worthwhile

The implementation of a new ELD system into thousands of trucks nationwide can seem arduous. However, the safety benefits are substantial enough to make the ELD mandate worthwhile. In addition, even if drivers don’t want to embrace the change, they are legally required to do so as of mid-December 2019. Therefore, implementing the mandate sooner rather than later is advisable.

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