The final deadline of the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate has passed, and the full regulation now applies to nearly all interstate commercial motor carriers and drivers who are required to keep records of duty service.
The ELD mandate has been phased in over several years to allow carriers and drivers slowly transition to the digital age from paper logs.
It started with voluntary compliance in early 2016. In December 2017, soft enforcement of ELDs began, allowing those yet to transition a grace period until April 2018 to potentially avoid fines or being placed out of service for non-compliance.
Those already using AOBRDs before Dec. 18, 2017 were allowed to continue that practice. That was until this final 2019 deadline.
Now all drivers and carriers subject to the rule must use Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration-registered ELDs. Some estimates earlier this year suggested some two million devices needed to be updated before the deadline.
FMCSA had previously warned there would not be any no extensions made to the deadline. In addition, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) had said inspectors would begin fully enforcing the ELD mandate on Dec. 17.
There will be no “soft enforcement” grace period this time, according to the CVSA.
If a commercial motor vehicle driver is required to have an ELD and the vehicle is not equipped with a registered compliant ELD, the driver is considered to have no record of duty status.
That now includes drivers still using AOBRDs. According to the North American standard out-of-service criteria, a driver who does not have a record of duty status in his or her possession will be declared out of service for 10 hours.
CVSA’s Inspection Bulletin regarding handheld and electronic logging devices outlines the requirements for devices used to record drivers’ hours of service.
The ELD final rule does not change any of the underlying hours-of-service regulations, which are currently under review by the FMCSA.
All compliant ELDs are able to electronically transfer HOS data files to inspectors, if requested, via telematics (wireless web services and e-mail) and local transfer (Bluetooth and USB).
They need to obtain data directly from the electronic control module, automatically record engine power status, vehicle motion status, and other information.
“Unlike paper and electronic logs, the differences between compliant ELDs and other onboard recorders aren’t necessarily apparent,” said Doug Schrier, vice president of product and innovation at Transflo, a provider of ELDs and mobile business-management technology to the transportation industry. “As the deadline for full ELD compliance nears, it’s important to make sure you’re using a device that meets all the requirements.”
Schrier said technical support and training is more important than ever.
“Choose an ELD vendor that will make sure your installation and telematics connections are working properly and has resources to help you train drivers and other personnel,” he said.
“There are dozens of ELDs on the FMCSA’s list of registered devices and they all have to produce the same basic set of data. The difference among vendors is in service, support, and your ability to use that data to run your business.”
Transflo recommends drivers have access to paper logs as a backup to their ELD and know where to find clear instructions about how to enter, retrieve and transfer data.