The ELD mandate is a US federal government rule that requires qualified commercial vehicles to use electronic logging devices or ELD.
This controversial regulation shook many drivers and trucking companies when it went into full effect.
While the governing body passed this law with good intentions, many groups greeted the directive with resistance. Thus, the implementation of this rule met a lengthy and challenging process.
Despite the repercussions, the ELD mandate became mandatory as of December 17, 2018.
Many drivers and operators were confused, while some continue to raise misunderstandings about different points in this rule.
So that everyone can wrap their heads around this new regulation, it is vital to know more about what it entails and the program behind its enactment.
What is the ELD Mandate?
Also called the ELD Final Rule, the ELD mandate is a US federal law that necessitates the use of electronic logging devices when operating with qualified commercial vehicles.
The simplest of these electronic devices allow professional truck drivers and commercial fleets to track their hours of service (HOS) with high efficiency.
The government restricts holders of commercial driver’s licenses to a certain amount of driving hours between rest periods.
To ensure accuracy in records and prevent organizations from manipulating tracked hours, the regulation phased out the use of paper logs and Automatic On-Board Recording Device (AOBRD), an earlier form of a recorder.
Why Was The ELD Mandate Implemented?
Extended hours behind the steering wheel causes exhaustion and decreased alertness, which is considered as risky driving.
Many studies conducted for many decades have ascertained that fatigue is one of the major street and highway accident triggers.
Out of the findings, the government deduced that preventing drivers from working for longer periods would help alleviate the problem.
Whenever a commercial truck gets involved in an incident, it attracts the attention of the media, local government, and the public.
Such events lead to limitations of driving hours and the requirement of keeping a log of hours. This record will serve as proof that the owner-operator adheres to this restriction.
However, paper logs are not accurate due to the possibility of a miscalculation. These documents are also prone to having false data to escape from their employer’s constraints and other pressures.
As such, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration or FMCSA, a branch of the US Department of Transportation in-charge of regulating trucking companies, sees that Electronic recording through ELD compliance will help automated recording of HOS with 100% accuracy.
Who Is Covered By The ELD Mandate?
The ELD mandate encompasses commercial trucks and other vehicle operations that used paper logbooks before the rule came into effect.
To further delve into its details, the ELD Final Rule includes:
- Vehicles weighing more than 10,001 pounds
- Motor units carrying 8 to 15 passengers
- Commercial motor vehicle drivers who are crossing through different states that are required to keep a record of duty status (RODS).
- Vehicle units with displayed hazardous material loads
Are There Any Exemptions To This Rule?
The ELD mandate specifies exemptions to the following vehicle classes and drivers:
- Non-commercial driver’s license holders within a radius of 150-air-miles.
- Operators of driveaway-towaway trucks
- Drivers of motor units with a model year before 2000.
- Qualified vehicle or drivers who use paper logs not exceeding eight days within 30 days
Carriers not specified in the above may still use ELD even if they’re not required. Although some drivers can continue their operation without ELDs, it doesn’t guarantee full exception from the mandate. Everyone is still obliged to record their duty status manually.
Advantages Of The ELD Mandate
Although a nuisance for those who prefer the traditional way of tracking HOS, one can’t deny the fact that the ELD mandate brought some excellent benefits to trucking companies and their drivers. A few of the many benefits were listed below:
Minimized Administrative Work
Automation and shifting to electronic processes help companies to efficiently track and record the movement of their qualified vehicle units.
ELD saves organizations time, money, and efforts from tons of paperwork as fleet managers and drivers can do something else instead of counting and noting down HOS manually.
Track Fuel Expenditure And Reduce It
ELDs can track idle times of truck drivers. As such, companies can flag these employees and find ways on how they can improve fleet management to save fuel costs.
Location Tracking And Better Route Opportunities
Fleet managers can use ELD to monitor the locations of the fleet through GPS. The feature eliminates the need to call drivers for updates, thanks to real-time visibility provided to the handlers.
Apart from tracking the vehicle units, fleet managers can identify better route opportunities to save time and increase productivity.
If an organization wants to reduce travel hours from 10 to 5 so their trucks can reach more destinations, electronic logging devices can surely assist them with this streamlining initiative.
Automated IFTA Calculation
IFTA reporting makes one of the most worrisome tasks of fleet managers every quarter. With ELDs, a massive percentage of the burden can go away.
Moreover, it is highly accurate, which reduces the chances of human errors and inconsistencies — saving your company from the dreaded audit.
One of the main goals of the governing body is to reduce road accidents by making sure that truck operators won’t stay behind the wheel for an unhealthy amount of hours.
According to studies, the use of ELD will lessen deaths, injuries, and property damages that would have been caused by exhausted drivers.
Companies also feel at ease with ELDs. As managers can track the locations through GPS, it would be easy to tell when a unit was hijacked or stolen. They can easily report to the police and notify them of the hijacked truck’s location.
With lesser administrative work, idle-time tracking, management of routes, automated IFTA reporting, and safer trips, this would sum up quickly to lower operational costs and higher profits.
Issues with ELD Mandate
Drivers and owner-operators contested the ELD mandate due to a few issues they can’t ignore:
Paper logbooks cost lesser compared to electronic logging devices. Companies with large fleets spent a vast amount of money to install ELDs when it became mandatory.
Although the return on investment is promising, this shift caused distress to some organizations.
The use of ELDs posed as another challenge, especially with older drivers. Although companies can provide training, it makes another expense to tabulate.
Finally, many raised concerns as ELDs can potentially breach the drivers’ rights to privacy. However, the ELD mandate already specified what the devices can or cannot do.
It is guaranteed to apply limits on geographical tracking and other measures to maintain separation of work hours and off-duty time.