The ELD Mandate and HOS Compliance: What Fleet Operators Need to Know

The ELD mandate has been part of the regulatory landscape since 2019, yet it’s still generating questions and confusion. For fleet operators, misunderstanding the mandate or failing to comply can be an expensive mistake. Enforcement is steadily increasing — the DOT performed more than 12,000 audits in 2021 — and ELD violation fines range from $1,000 to $10,000.

You must understand ELD compliance requirements to keep your business in gear and maintain your compliance, safety, and accountability (CSA) scores. Accurately logging your drivers' hours of service (HOS) is critical. Don't risk the consequences of non-compliance.

In this article, we’ll dig deeper into what ELD is, the regulations surrounding it, and how ELD can help you meet other regulations such as HOS, DVIR, IFTA, and more.

What is ELD?

An electronic logging device (ELD) solution includes a tablet mounted in a truck’s cab that connects to the vehicle’s engine or to a telematics device that pulls data from the vehicle’s Engine Control Unit (ECU) in order to automatically record information.

What is ELD?

The ELD solution records driving time, miles driven, engine data, vehicle location, driver identification, and other data. The data can be viewed by the driver on the tablet or by a manager in a fleet management system.

An ELD makes it simple for drivers and managers to keep accurate hours of service (HOS) records. It also makes it easier for drivers to manage their vehicle inspection reports, fuel usage records and receipts. ELD devices can help with:

  • Driver Verification and Inspection Reporting (DVIR). These reports verify that a driver has completed the required pre- and post-trip inspections.
  • International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) Compliance. This agreement for fuel tax collection among 48 U.S. states and all 10 Canadian provinces requires commercial carriers to keep records of fuel purchases, fuel usage and mileage logged by their drivers.

What is a compliant ELD?

Not all ELDs are compliant with requirements set by the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Administration (FMCSA), an agency of the Department of Transportation. A compliant ELD is a tamper-resistant device that connects directly to an engine and records HOS information. To be fully compliant, an ELD must be registered with the FMCSA and meet all technical specifications in the ELD Rule.

ELD compliance

These regulations are designed to ensure that drivers are not overworked and are taking the necessary breaks to avoid fatigue and accidents. A compliant ELD must be registered with the FMCSA and must meet specific technical requirements, such as being tamper-resistant and providing accurate and reliable data. Using a compliant ELD can help improve safety on the roads, reduce the risk of accidents, and ensure that commercial drivers are following HOS regulations. CalAmp’s ELD can help you do all this and more.

If your fleet operates across North America and crosses borders, be sure you are using an ELD solution that has been approved by the FMCSA for interstate and intrastate commerce across America, by a third-party body accredited by the Minister of Transport for Canada and by the Secretaría de Comunicaciones y Transportes (SCT) for Mexico.

What is the ELD mandate?

The ELD mandate is federal law. Commercial truck drivers must use an ELD to track driver record of duty status (RODS) and capture engine data. This includes engine on/off, which validates hours of service records. The goal is to improve the accuracy of HOS logs and prevent accidents due to driver fatigue. This mandate is powerful and necessary to keep our roads safe.

ELDs replace paper logs and automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs). Paper logs were subject to human error — and the possibility that drivers would underestimate their hours so they could drive longer. AOBRDs did not record as much data as ELDs do, and the logs could be edited by drivers.

The ELD mandate rules were published in the United States in December 2015, and a period of “soft enforcement” followed. Drivers using paper logbooks or AOBRDs were required to transition to ELDs by December of 2019. At that point, the ELD mandate was fully enforced.

What does the ELD mandate include?

The mandate includes specifications for the type of device that must be used, as well as requirements for how the data is collected, stored, and transmitted. The mandate also includes provisions for enforcement, including penalties for non-compliance. Overall, the ELD mandate is an important step towards ensuring the safety of both commercial drivers and other motorists on the road.

Considerations for your business

Whether you’re a driver or carrier, a manufacturer, or an enforcement partner, the ELD mandate has implications for you and your business.

Drivers and carriers must carefully consider which ELD model they are going to use. Be sure to check the FMCSA’s list of registered and certified ELD products. If you use an unregistered ELD, you could be in violation of the FMCSA’s regulations.

Once you’ve selected an ELD that works for your business and is on the list of registered devices, it’s important to take time to understand your device thoroughly. Make sure that your drivers know how to perform all necessary functions of the device and record necessary data.

Finally, be ready to show your records and logs when required. All compliant ELD systems have the ability to transfer HOS data logs. Check your ELD manual to confirm the process for transferring HOS files.

Drivers and carriers can work in partnerships with enforcement officials to keep road safety a top priority for everyone.

Who is exempt from the ELD mandate?

While the FMCSA ELD mandate was designed to improve standards across the shipping and logistics industry. There comes with it an acknowledgement that the standards aren't always applicable to every situation. The FMCSA currently exempts the following drivers and vehicles from the ELD mandate:

ELD mandate exemptions

  • Short-haul drivers
  • Drive away/tow-away operations in which the commercial motor vehicle being driven is the commodity
  • Drivers who operate vehicles older than the model year 2000
  • Drivers who keep logs for eight days or fewer in a 30-day period
  • Agricultural, farm and livestock vehicles

All other commercial vehicles and drivers must use an ELD.

Hours of Service (HOS) rules

HOS rules were designed to reduce drowsy driving and associated crashes. By complying with these rules, companies protect the safety of their drivers and the motoring public.

HOS rules

There are different elements to the U.S HOS regulations to consider, including the details of the duty period of a driver, and a variety of exemptions. Let’s explore some of those below.

Duty period

According to HOS regulations, commercial drivers have a maximum duty time of 14 hours per day. During that time, they are allowed to drive for only 11 hours and may not drive for more than eight hours without a 30-minute break.

Drivers can’t be on duty for more than 60 hours during any period of seven consecutive days or more than 70 hours in any eight consecutive days.

Air-mile radius

The air-mile radius is one notable exception to the HOS regulations. For example, drivers that operate within a 150 air-mile radius of their normal work reporting location, they aren’t required to mee the HOS rules.

There are other specific exemptions built into the HOS regulations. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with all of them to ensure you stay compliant at all times.

A good ELD system will help you track the hours of service of your drivers and help you meet compliance needs.

Benefits of ELDs

ELDs offer several significant benefits when used in conjunction with subscription services from a fleet management software solution such as CalAmp's fleet telematics. Here are some of the benefits of an ELD such as apollo from assured Techmatics, offered through CalAmp Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) solutions.

What are the benefits of ELDs?

Maintaining HOS rules compliance

A fleet management solution that includes an ELD allows drivers and dispatchers to be alerted when a driver is nearing the HOS limit.

Reducing crashes and related expenses

By limiting drowsy driving, ELD devices help reduce collisions associated with driver fatigue, including collisions that could result in a nuclear verdict. ELDs can also lead to better CSA scores — and in many cases, lower insurance premiums — by increasing safety and reducing violations of HOS regulations and the ELD mandate.

Easier and more efficient reporting

An ELD drastically reduces HOS paperwork and simplifies DVIR and IFTA compliance, saving organizations countless man-hours.

Report better with ELD

The apollo solution, for example, provides prefilled checklists that guide drivers through the DVIR inspection process. Engine diagnostics (DTC) codes can also be attached to the reports. For IFTA compliance, apollo can automatically generate detailed, customizable IFTA tax reports.

Electronic records not only save carriers time, they also help them minimize errors that could trigger an audit.

Commercial carriers are required to use ELDs, but far from being a burden, these devices, used in tandem with a fleet management solution, are a boon, helping fleet operators improve driver safety, prevent collisions, reduce costs and increase operational efficiency for a healthier fleet and a stronger bottom line.


The ELD mandate holds major implications for companies across the shipping and logistics industry. It’s critical for you to understand and meet compliance requirements when it comes to ELD, including whether you’re eligible for any exemptions.

To do all of that successfully, you need a fully functional telematics solution you can rely on. Discover the unparalleled power of CalAmp's edge-to-cloud telematics solutions, flawlessly integrated with the Apollo ELD by assured Techmatics.

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