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The ELD Mandate in the Trucking Industry

The ELD mandate was implemented in December 2017 and tracks commercial driver hours of service (HOS) to ensure drivers aren't driving more than allowed.

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ABCO Transportation
October 2, 2020
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The trucking industry, like many others, has rules and regulations that need to be followed, including the ELD mandate. The ELD mandate is one of the most important pieces of legislation that trucking companies and their employees need to be aware of today. The mandate relates to the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs), which are required to record driver activity and commercial vehicle operation data. Among other data, it tracks commercial driver hours of service (HOS) to ensure drivers are not driving for more than the maximum number of hours allowed between rest periods.

Automated ELD technology replaces previous methods of recording driver and vehicle data, including keeping paper records and the use of an Automatic On-Board Recording Device (AORD). The electronic logging device ELD mandate was implemented in December 2017 as part of a larger act called MAP-21. The legislation comes under the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and tracks driver data to ensure they are following the Hours of Service rules that drivers are driving no more than 11 consecutive hours in a 14-hour period. After this, they must have 10 hours off-duty, in addition to taking a 30-minute break during the 14 hours on-duty.

Do I Need an ELD for My Truck?

do-i-need-an-eld-for-my-truck

Not everyone who drives a truck commercially necessarily needs to use an ELD for their truck. There are several exemptions, which are generally based on the activities being carried out and the distance traveled. The ELD mandate is designed to set out regulations for long haul truck drivers, so drivers operating within a smaller area generally do not need to have ELDs in their trucks.

The ELD mandate covers commercial driving operations that are required to keep Hours of Service records. This includes:

  • Interstate commercial motor vehicles required to keep records of duty status (RODS)
  • Vehicles weighing over 1,001 pounds
  • Vehicles with placarded hazmat loads
  • Vehicles carrying more than eight or 15 passengers, depending on vehicle class
  • Trucks that are year 2000 or later

Vehicles that previously needed to keep paper records don't necessarily need to have an ELD. It's important for drivers to be aware of the exemptions and understand whether it applies to them. For commercial truck drivers that don't fall under one of the exemptions, it's necessary to have an ELD installed in their truck.

The Hours of Service regulations set out how rules on how long drivers can work and drive for, and when they must take breaks. Data provided by ELDs show whether drivers are complying with these rules.

The Hours of Service rules say that property-carrying drivers:

  • Cannot drive more than 11 consecutive hours in a 14-hour period
  • Must have 10 hours off-duty between 14-hour periods on-duty
  • Must take a 30 minutes break during their 14 hours on-duty
  • May not drive more than 60/70 hours on-duty in seven/eight consecutive days - they can restart the consecutive day period after taking a consecutive 34 hours or more off-duty.
  • Can split their 10-hour off-duty period if one off-duty period is at least two hours long and the other involves at least seven consecutive hours in the sleeper berth. All sleeper berth pairing must add up to a minimum of 10 hours, and, when used together, neither time period counts against the 14-hour driving window.

Some changes to these regulations will take place on September 29, 2020, making them a little more flexible for drivers.

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Are E Logs Mandatory?

E Logs are mandatory for all vehicles that fall under the ELD mandate. The only vehicles that do not need to keep electronic records are those that are exempt. Installing and using an ELD is required for commercial trucks and buses to ensure compliance with the Hours of Service requirements. The ELD rule is congressionally mandated as part of MAP-21. It is intended to make working conditions safer for drivers and to make it easier to track, manage, and share records of duty status (RODS) data.

Unless a vehicle is exempt from the ELD mandate, it is legally required to record E logs using an ELD in the vehicle. The ELD synchronizes with the vehicle's engine to automatically record driving time. This makes the data more accurate and helps to ensure that drivers and truck companies are following the HOS requirements.

E logs are not required for drivers and vehicles that do not have to record Hours of Service. However, even exempt vehicles may no longer be exempt on some occasions, requiring the use of an EDL. For these vehicles, an EDL might need to be installed and turned on whenever they leave the area within which they don't need to record HOS. If exempt and non-exempt drivers share a vehicle, exempt drivers may be able to use a different account on the device so that they can easily not keep records of duty when it's not necessary.

While there is no federal mandate for intrastate vehicles, the majority of states have adopted the mandate for vehicles operating within state lines. Exceptions currently include Hawaii and Maryland.

Is ELD Mandatory in California?

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The federal ELD mandate applies to vehicles crossing state lines in the course of their work. However, since the federal mandate, a number of individual states have also been looking at implementing ELD rules for intrastate vehicles. Among these are a group of states that implemented an intrastate mandate not long after the federal mandate, as well as others that followed later, including Texas and Florida. California intends to adopt the ELD mandate for intrastate carriers at the end of 2020. The deadline is currently December 31, 2020, by which time truck drivers will need to comply with the new rules.

The Hours of Service rules for California differ from the federally mandated hours. The California regulations state that:

  • Drivers cannot drive for more than 12 hours during a work period
  • Drivers cannot drive after the 16th consecutive hour after coming on-duty
  • Drivers must have ten consecutive hours off-duty before starting work again
  • Drivers cannot drive after having been on duty for 80 hours in any eight consecutive day period
  • The 8th day cumulative total is reset to zero with the beginning of any off-duty period of at least 34 consecutive hours

These rules for intrastate carriers in California are more relaxed than the federal Hours of Service. For example, drivers can drive for one more hour in a work period (12 hours compared to 11 hours).

The California ELD mandate will mean that companies that were not previously affected by the federal mandate may now be required to make changes and install ELDs in their vehicles. Trucks will need to have ELDs installed and in use by the time the deadline arrives to ensure compliance. This includes giving every driver and other users of the ELD system their own accounts so that each individual's activity can be logged.

FMCSA ELD Mandate

There are specific requirements that trucking companies need to follow to be compliant with the ELD mandate. Vehicles need to have an appropriate electronic logging device, as well as access to:

  • The operational manual
  • Instructions for the data transfer tools
  • Instructions for what steps to take if the ELD fails
  • A supply of paper to print RODS graphs for a minimum of eight days

To be compliant, an ELD has to have several attributes, including using telematics or local transfer of data and making automated entries.

Telematics technology

ELD devices need to use telematics technology or local transfer of data to transmit data with ELD software. Using telematics technology, the data is transmitted electronically to an authorized safety official via web-based services or email. Local data transfer uses USB 2.0 or Bluetooth technology to transmit ELD data. The data needs to be viewable by authorized safety officials, either printed out or via a digital display.

Automated entries

An ELD device must make automated entries, tracking, and recording driving activity. ELD devices begin recording data and engine diagnostics as soon as the engine is turned on, whereas the old AOBR devices require manual instruction to record data at a certain speed. Through automated entries, data on driver behavior and engine diagnostics are continually recorded.

Duty status graph

A duty status graph displays a visual representation of the driver's activities. A compliant ELD must have the ability to create this data as a graph on demand. The data that it should display should include when the driver is on or off duty, when they are driving, and their location.

Annotations and edits

ELDs need to have the ability to make annotations and edits, allowing notes to be added to the data. Making an edit to a record allows for the addition of data without overwriting the existing data. When edits are made, they need to be annotated to explain the change. Annotations and edits can only be carried out if mistakes need to be corrected or missing information needs to be added.

Engine diagnostic data detection

ELDs need to be able to detect engine diagnostics to be compliant with the ELD mandate. They should be able to detect positioning, malfunctions, data misinformation, and synchronization, among other things. This means that the ELD will record both driver activity data and data relating to the engine's performance.

ELD Mandate Exemptions

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There are several exemptions to the ELD mandate. If you have never needed to keep a paper log, it's unlikely that you will be required to install an ELD.

Vehicles and drivers that are exempt from the ELD mandate include:

  • CDL drivers operating within 100 air miles of their daily starting location and work no more than 12 hours at a time. They must also report to the same location every day and have at least ten hours off-duty between shifts.
  • Non-CDL drivers operating within 150 miles of their daily starting location, who don't drive through a state requiring a CDL for their vehicle. They must not drive after the 14th hour of coming on duty in a period of seven consecutive days, and they should report to the same location for work every day.
  • Agricultural/farm trucks operating within a 150-mile radius and not operating outside of this radius for more than eight days in a consecutive 30 days.
  • Vehicles manufactured before the year 2000.

HOS exemptions

ELDs are not required for vehicles that are exempt from Hours of Service. If drivers operate beyond the 100-mile or 150-mile radius, HOS regulations apply, and the driver will need to keep records. For exempt agricultural vehicles, this may mean keeping paper logs during the occasions when they operate outside of these areas. The dates during which agricultural vehicles are exempt from the 150-mile rule are decided on a state-by-state basis.

Exemptions to the 30-minute break rule

There are two exceptions to the rule that drivers must take a 30-minute break every eight hours. Short-haul drivers operating within 100 miles are exempt from this rule, as are short-haul drivers operating within a 150-miles radius who operate non-CDL vehicles.

Exemptions to the 14-hour rule

The standard on-duty period allowed is 14 consecutive hours. However, this can be extended to 16 hours once every seven days. There are conditions to be met to use this exemption.

To be able to extend the working period to 16 hours, the driver must:

  • have returned to their usual work reporting location and been released from duty at that location for the previous five duty tours they have worked,
  • have returned to their normal work reporting location and been released from duty within 16 hours of coming on-duty following ten consecutive hours off-duty,
  • have not taken this exemption within the previous six consecutive days, except when they have begun a new seven or eight-day period with the beginning of any off-duty period of 34 or more consecutive hours as allowed by §395.3(c)

Adverse driving conditions exemption

There is also an exemption in place that may be used during adverse weather conditions or other driving conditions. However, it is only allowed to be used in circumstances where the driver could not have known about the conditions before they started driving. It can include unexpected changes in the weather, such as sudden fog, snow, as well as situations like a road closure. The driver must not have previous knowledge of the adverse driving conditions or could be reasonably expected to check and plan their trip accordingly. For example, if a storm had been forecast, the exemption would not be allowed.

Adverse driving conditions allow the 11-hour driving period to be extended to 13 hours. However, the 14-hour period is not affected, so all 13 hours of driving must be completed within this 14-hour on-duty window.

Direct emergency assistance exemption

Some Hours of Service rules might be lifted in an emergency situation. A driver could be allowed to complete a job outside of the usual HOS rule if they could have reasonably completed the run if the emergency had not occurred. Emergency conditions are those that are declared by the President, state governors, or the FMCSA. The exemption is only applicable if the emergency has been declared by an official federal or state institution.

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ELD Mandate Date

The final deadline for compliance with the ELD mandate was December 16, 2019. This is the date by which vehicles with the old technology, AORDs, had to replace or upgrade them so that they meet the ELD requirements.

Other dates are applicable for state mandates regarding the use of ELDs. Many states implemented intrastate regulations around the same time the federal rules came into effect, while a few still have deadlines that are in the future. It's important for trucking company decision-makers and drivers to be aware of whether their local state mandate deadline has come into effect.

ELD Mandate Apps

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There are various apps available within the trucking industry that help to make it easier to remain compliant with HOS and ELD regulations. Fleet management platforms are available for use on desktop systems, as well as mobile devices. Many apps are designed with ELD compliance in mind. You can look for software that is FMCSA-registered and provides a good user experience for drivers. Some tools have automatic log auditing and other useful tools that make it easier to remain compliant. They can provide alerts to help drivers and fleet managers to avoid HOS violations and connect to ELDs that fit a range of vehicles. They also include a range of other useful features for drivers and managers.

Some examples of ELD mandate apps and software include:

  • Keep Truckin
  • Samsara
  • ELD Mandate Plus
  • TruckingOffice
  • Scalefusion

These are just a few of the options available for compliance with the ELD mandate and general fleet management. Having a mobile app available for drivers makes it easier for them to manage their own vehicles and make sure that they are following the rules. It gives them more control over their electronic logging device account and helps them to play a part in remaining compliant.

ELD Mandate 2020

In 2020, there are still several ways the ELD mandate is subject to change. In terms of state mandates, there are still a few states that have yet to implement or reach their deadline for intrastate carrier compliance. Even the federal mandate could change in some ways. Many truckers and trucking companies are not particularly enthusiastic about the regulations as they feel that they do not match up with their working patterns. While experts in the industry say that the law promotes safety, truck drivers often complain that it makes their jobs too inflexible. Some drivers even say that the mandate has made their jobs more dangerous, as well as decreasing their pay. The mandate has also made things more expensive for consumers.

The deadline for the ELD mandate was just at the end of 2019, so it hasn't been long since trucking companies have been required to comply with the regulations. In the time since the focus of the FMCSA and the Department of Transportation has been enforcement of the mandate and ensuring compliance. The CVSA estimates that around four million inspections are carried out each year, with ensuring compliance with the ELD mandate being one of the main purposes. A violation can affect the carrier's CSA score, as well as specific drivers.

Penalties that could be faced include:

  • Drivers being placed out-of-service for a minimum of 10 hours if they don't have compliant ELD devices
  • Fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000
  • An increased chance of roadside vehicle inspections

With the focus on compliance in 2020, it's essential for trucking companies and their drivers to ensure they know and follow the ELD mandate. In addition to following the state mandate, trucking companies and drivers should be aware of any intrastate regulations for their own state to ensure compliance with those too. It's also important for fleet managers and others in the industry to keep an eye on changing regulations and keep up with any changes that occur.

New HOS regulations for 2020

Another important thing to note is the new HOS regulations, which come into effect on September 29, 2020. These change the Hours of Service in a few ways, responding to some of the concerns that trucking companies and drivers have had.

The changes to the Hours of Service include:

  • An expansion to the short-haul exception to expand it to 150 air miles and allows a 14-hour work shift as part of the exception
  • The driving window during adverse driving conditions is expanded by up to two hours
  • A 30-minute break is required after eight hours of driving time, instead of eight hours of time on-duty, allowing on-duty/not driving time to qualify as a break
  • Allow drivers to meet the 10-hour minimum off-duty requirement by spending at least seven (instead of at least eight) hours in the berth and a minimum off-duty period of at least two hours spent inside or outside the berth, as long as the two periods total at least 10 hours, and that neither period counts against the 14-hour driving window

This is the Hours of Service final rule, which was revised in June 2020 but is just now coming into effect. These new regulations relax the existing regulations, hopefully making things more flexible for drivers and trucking companies. The new regulations give drivers more control over when to take their break, driving time, and how long they work, which might help to save some of the problems that have been experienced so far. The changes were made after the FMCSA collected feedback and discussed with people within the trucking industry to alter the rules based on their input.

The new HOS rules mean that ELD software needs to be updated to reflect them. ELD providers have had plenty of time to update their products and should be making new rulesets available for their customers. ELD providers should have informed their customers about updates by now, but any customers that have not heard from their provider should get in touch with them to find out what steps they are taking. In most cases, ELD providers will have made their updates available before the new regulations go into effect.

Latest ELD Mandate News

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The final rule has been made on the ELD mandate, but it's still important to keep up with the latest news on the mandate. As well as ensuring they are up to date on the federal mandate, trucking companies and drivers need to ensure they are aware of intrastate regulations too. It's also wise to watch for news relating to ELD technology, as well as how the ELD mandate is being enforced, and compliance is being checked. The mandate could be subject to change in the future, so it's crucial for trucking companies to pay attention to any potential changes in the law.

Litigation against new HOS rules

Just before the new HOS rules were due to come into effect, four safety advocacy groups filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (AHAS), the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT), and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH), represented by the Public Citizen Litigation Group, were seeking to invalidate the new ruling. The group argued that the new rules would exacerbate the danger of tired drivers by weakening the HOS rules. However, the petition has had no effect on the final rule going ahead and being put into place.

Testing of split-duty period

In August 2020, the FMCSA proposed a pilot project to test the option of allowing drivers to stop their clocks and allow them to work beyond the 14-hour period. The tests will be to determine whether the move would be safe to make. It will allow truck drivers to stop their clocks from anywhere between 30 minutes and three hours. This could provide further flexibility to drivers, allowing them to have more choice in how they use their 11 hours behind the wheel. 

The ability to stop the clock for three hours was originally sought by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. Although it was included in a proposed rule, it was dropped from the final rule. However, there is still a chance that the change could be implemented, depending on what the Split Duty Period Pilot Project reveals. The pilot program will be gathering statistically reliable evidence to ascertain whether such a change could help trucking companies and those they work with, while also maintaining safety. The proposal is likely to be opposed by the safety advocacy groups that have objected to the latest changes.

HOS time limits waived due to Covid-19

Another recent change is the suspension of HOS rules during the Covid-19 pandemic for Covid-19 relief drivers. The FMCSA first issued a national emergency declaration in March to provide regulatory relief to commercial vehicle drivers transporting emergency relief.

The order initially applied to commercial vehicles providing the following:

  • Medical supplies and equipment for testing, diagnosis, and treatment of Covid-19
  • Supplies and equipment for healthcare workers, patients and community safety, sanitation, and prevention of Covid-19 spread
  • Food to restock stores
  • Equipment, supplies, and people needed for establishing and managing temporary housing and quarantine facilities
  • People designated by federal, state, or local authorities for transport for medical, isolation, or quarantine purposes
  • Personnel to provide medical or other emergency services

The waiver was most recently extended in September to continue to support Covid-19 relief efforts until the end of 2020. The order has been extended six times in total, and will now remain in place until at least December 31.

The order now covers:

  • Livestock and livestock feed
  • Medical supplies and equipment related to the testing, diagnosis, and treatment of Covid-19
  • Supplies and equipment necessary for community safety, sanitation, and prevention of transmission of Covid-19
  • Food, paper products, and other groceries for emergency restocking of distribution centers or stores

It's important for trucking companies and drivers that may have previously been covered by the order to remember that they must now follow the HOS rules again. The order could be extended again in 2021 if it's necessary for these relief services to continue to be available. Checking the latest news relating to HOS and ELDs will ensure up to date information and compliance with the law. Non-compliance could result in fines and other consequences, so compliance is a must for good business practice.

Discover Job Opportunities in the Trucking Industry Today

For those interested in working as a truck driver, ABCO Transportation has a broad range of opportunities waiting for you, now that you know all about the ELD mandate. We can help you to find the perfect position and offer you truck driving tips. Take a quiz too to learn how to get CB radio handles. We have truck driving jobs in Modesto CA and local truck driving jobs in Atlanta Ga.

For more information on how we can provide assistance with discovering the right role, get in touch with us. You can also start looking for jobs right away using our truck driving job search and fill out a trucking job application, making it easy for you to start a new career or find your next truck driving job.

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