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.

To protect your compliance, safety and accountability (CSA) scores and keep your drivers and your business in gear, it’s critical to understand ELD compliance requirements and ensure that you’re logging your drivers’ hours of service (HOS) accurately.

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. 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 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.

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 a federal regulation that requires commercial truck drivers to use an ELD to track driver record of duty status (RODS) and capture engine data, such as engine on/off, that validates hours of service records. The goal of the mandate is to improve the accuracy of HOS logs and ultimately prevent accidents that stem from driver fatigue.

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.

Who is exempt from the ELD mandate?

The FMCSA currently exempts the following drivers and vehicles from the ELD mandate:

  • 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.

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.

Maintaining HOS rules compliance

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.

According to U.S. HOS regulations, commercial drivers have a maximum duty time of 14 hours per day. In 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.

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.

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.

Learn more about CalAmp’s edge-to-cloud telematics solutions, which integrate seamlessly with the apollo ELD from assured Techmatics.

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