We hear a lot of the new truck drivers we work with asking the same questions and wondering why we have to use Electronic Logging Devices. Because of this, we wanted to answer the 5 most asked questions we hear and give you some updated ELD mandate info with this article.

What is an ELD?

ELDs are recording devices that register a vehicle’s parameters by synchronizing to the vehicle’s engine. As defined in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), an ELD is functionally defined as any device that:

  • It is capable of accurately and automatically tracking and logging a driver’s duty status and hours of operation.
  • Has complied with the requirements outlined by the Secretary of Transportation through the regulations.

In addition, according to MAP-21, all ELDs must:

  • Have the ability to accurately record a commercial driver’s HOS
  • Record the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) location
  • Be tamper-resistant
  • Be synchronized with the operation of the engine of the vehicle or be capable of detecting when the vehicle is being operated.

ELDs are also required to enable law enforcement personnel to access any data contained in the device while performing roadside inspections.

What are the differences between AOBRD and ELD?

These are the main differences you will notice between AOBRDs and ELDs:

Integral synchronization – ELDs have to be connected to the vehicle’s ECM (electronic control module). So it can track exactly when an engine is running, the amount of time it has been running, when it is moving, and precisely the number of miles it has been driven according to the odometer readings. The AOBRD rules never clearly defined the connection.

Automatic change to “on duty” – If a vehicle has not been moved for 5 consecutive minutes and the driver fails to respond to a warning from the device within 1 minute, the ELD will automatically change its status to “on duty without driving.” Drivers cannot manually adjust this status, as they would be able to do with an AOBRD.

Communication methods – ELDs need to have the ability to share records with law enforcement officials. The ELD must be able to send the data via USB cable and Bluetooth or be able to share information via wireless web services and email. AOBRDs should only be able to interact with a printer.

Unidentified Driver Logs – ELDs are required to show a warning when someone connects to the device if there are unassigned driving times or miles. Drivers should indicate whether or not the unassigned records belong to them.

Location Records – A driver can manually record his location on an AOBRD, however with an ELD, the location of a vehicle is registered automatically at several different times, including

  • Each 60-minutes if the vehicle is running.
  • Every time the driver turns the engine on or off.
  • Whenever someone changes their duty status.

How is location information recorded?

An ELD must record location data every 60 minutes while the vehicle is in motion, as well as every time the driver switches the engine on and off, changes the duty status, or indicates personal use.

While driving in duty, location accuracy should be approximately within 1 mile. If a driver operates a CMV for personal use, location accuracy is roughly within a 10-mile radius in order to protect the driver’s privacy.

The required location information is not accurate enough to pin down street addresses. For each duty status change, the ELD must automatically convert the captured vehicle position in latitude/longitude coordinates to geolocation data indicating the approximate direction and distance to an easily distinguishable location matching a nearby city or town with a state abbreviation.

How do I know my ELD is compliant?

It can be tempting to try to cut corners when buying an ELD. However, one of the critical considerations in choosing an ELD provider and device is that FMCSA does not check that the devices are compliant. The agency recommends that before purchasing an ELD, both carriers and drivers must confirm that the device is certified and registered with FMCSA. To ensure you get a compatible device, you can check this list of the best online ELD resources and find the perfect ELD for your particular situation. 

The FMCSA keeps a record of all devices that are self-certified to meet ELD compliance specifications. Carriers are responsible for verifying that their device is registered. That includes periodic checking of the registration and revocation list.

If an ELD device is removed from the registry list, the FMCSA will do its best to inform the public and all affected users. Carriers and drivers are also encouraged to subscribe to ELD updates so that they can be notified when an ELD has been placed on the revocation list. Since this is basically a ‘buyer beware’ scenario, carriers must also become familiar with ELD regulation. A few ELD vendors have opted to employ third-party consultants to verify the compliance of their ELDs, but this is not mandatory.

How can ELDs help me increase profits?

At first, many people saw the introduction of ELDs as a burden, however, soon that view changed. Why? Simply because ELDs provide an unprecedented amount of data about the operations of a carrier. With the right ELD, you can turn this data into tangible insights that can help increase profitability and help your business grow. Although ELDs were originally introduced to enforce service hours compliance, they offer much more than just that. ELDs offer valuable information and insights into the operation of a fleet. Fleet managers then can use this data to boost efficiency, lower operational costs, and improve profits.

Improving the efficiency of vehicle utilization

A better use of the fleet means greater profitability. Since ELDs are connected directly to the vehicle’s engine, they automatically register excessive idling and can display this information to the fleet manager.

Enhance safety using driver safety scores

ELDs can also provide you useful information about the safety of your drivers. Certain ELDs monitor risky driving habits and identify critical safety events. With this data, fleet managers can swiftly recognize and address high-risk drivers, thus decreasing the risk of accidents and liabilities as well as enhancing the overall fleet safety.

Final Thoughts

These are the top 5 questions about ELDs and the ELD mandate. While many in the commercial trucking industry recognize ELDs as a means of complying with the ELD mandate. There are other less obvious but critically important benefits like cost reductions, time savings, improved fleet productivity, and profitability. 

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