December 18 is fast approaching, and for commercial drivers, this is an important date. It is the day that the ELD (electronic logging device) rule begins to go into effect, and companies need to understand the mandate and how to comply.

The Basics

The rule requires that an electronic logging device is used by commercial drivers who are required to prepare HOS (hours-of-service) RODS (records and duty status). There are a few exceptions including:

  • Drivers who operate under the short-haul exceptions may continue using timecards; they are not required to keep RODS and will not be required to use ELDs.
  • Drivers who use paper RODS for not more than 8 days out of every 30-day period.
  • Drivers who conduct drive-away-tow-away operations, in which the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered.
  • Drivers of vehicles manufactured before 2000.

Additionally, the mandate helps establish what supporting documents drivers and carriers are required to keep and prohibits harassment of drivers based on the ELD data or connected technology such as a fleet-management system. The rule also provides recourse for drivers who believe they have been harassed.

The Technology

The electronic logging device can come in different forms. It can be a portable device that is mounted in a fixed position during operation and visible to the driver from a seated position. It can also be on a smartphone or other wireless device if the device meets the ELD rule’s technical specifications.

According to the rule technical specifications, an ELD must support one of two options for electronic data transfer. The first is a telematics-type transfer. At a minimum, it must electronically transfer data to an authorized safety official on demand via wireless Web services and email.

The second option is a local-type transfer. At a minimum, it must electronically transfer data to an authorized safety official on demand via USB2.0 and Bluetooth.

Also, the device needs to be certified and registered with the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Admin.),, Washington, D.C. Thus, many of the technology providers have been working to receive certification in recent months. One example of a device that is compliant is the DIRECTOR ELD from Teletrac Navman,, Glenview, Ill., which can track hours and reduce labor costs.

As the deadline fast approaches, companies need to make sure they are prepared to follow the FMCSA’s ELD mandate.

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