Definitive Guide to Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)

 

Wading through the seemingly endless pool of information on the internet about Electronic Logging Devices, government mandates, exemption requirements, device features, and Hours of Service rules probably isn’t anybody’s ideal way to spend an afternoon.

Fortunately, that’s exactly what we’ve done so you don’t have to.

The aim of this guide is to boil all of it down into an easy and convenient resource that covers all the need-to-know information in one place.

What is ELD?

ELD stands for Electronic Logging Devices, which are often called ELDs, electronic logbooks, or e-logs.

Simply put, they are electronic devices connected to a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) that enables drivers and carriers to easily track Hours of Service (HOS) compliance.

Tracking HOS has typically been done on a paper logbook – a driver would add his time into the logbook, noting when they started the day, any stops or breaks throughout, when they finished, and how much time off they had in between working hours.

This quick video will give you an introduction to ELDs:

 

“ELDs are the next generation of logging, taking the place of paper logs as standard operating procedure.”

We’ll explain how they work, who needs them, and why later on.

ELDs require two basic parts to be compliant with the mandate

The first part is a physical device that is synchronized with a vehicle’s engine and CPU. There are a variety of different ELD devices out there, but most connections between device and vehicle will be through either a hardwired connection, or via a plug-in device that connects through a vehicle’s OBDII or JBUS port.

The second required part is a Bluetooth-capable digital display device, such as a manufacturer built-in display, a tablet, or smartphone. The display synchronizes with the engine-connected device through an ELD provider app, which then allows interaction with the ELD system. Through the display, the driver can toggle their duty status, review HOS data, enable roadside inspections, monitor HOS status from the driver’s seat, and transfer data. Any and all data available to the driver through the Bluetooth-connected digital display is also remotely available through a web-based dashboard to an administrator, fleet manager, dispatcher, or any user who handles HOS or Record of Duty Status (RODS) data or information for a carrier.

Despite the ‘device’ in Electronic Logging Device, it may be easier to think of ELDs as a system made up of an engine-connected piece of hardware, a digital display for drivers and roadside inspectors, and an administrative dashboard or interface for the carrier.

What is the ELD Mandate?

Image Describing Key Dates in ELD MandateThere is a lot of information out there on both the U.S. and Canadian ELD mandates, but questions still remain from drivers, carriers, and anybody else potentially affected on both sides of the border. The FMCSA has been regulating ELD compliance as part of MAP-21 for several years now (since December 2017), and have established a relatively thorough database that covers many of the intricacies and uncertainties surrounding the rule.

On the Canadian side, the mandate is in the earlier stages, and will not be enforced until June 12, 2021, leaving some gaps in available information. On June 13, 2019, Transport Canada released the ‘final rule’, which outlines the majority of the rules and requirements surrounding the mandate, but noted in that release that the third-party certification requirements for ELD devices in Canada are yet to be completed.

Much of the officially-published material is muddled with legal jargon and typically long-winded legislative speak. To define it simply, the ELD mandate is basically a set of rules and regulations requiring motor carriers to install devices that process RODS and HOS data, intended to replace paper logbooks. The mandate is a significant shakeup in the industry, but most HOS rules will remain intact, meaning the switch to ELDs is largely a technological change.

The experts at Titan GPS have followed the ongoing regulatory changes and amendments since the beginning, and are here to help you navigate the switch from the traditional system, and ensure your fleet is ELD compliant.

Why is the ELD Mandate Needed?

Understanding the why behind the mandate is a good first step toward buying in and recognizing the potential for positive impact stemming from the rule.

Here are 5 of the most commonly-cited reasons for the ELD mandate:

 

Key safety statistics for the ELD mandate

  • Reducing occurrences of fatigued driving
  • Increasing safety for everyone on the roads
  • Eliminating falsified or altered logbook entries
  • Cutting down on paperwork and administrative tasks
  • Ensuring accurate record keeping industry-wide

 

Both the FMCSA and Transport Canada have cited safety as a strong motivator behind the implementation of the nation-wide regulation changes. Transport Canada conducted a Cost-Benefit analysis of ELDs in 2016, and found that the safety, administrative, and financial net benefits of ELD implementation far outweigh the overall costs.

What happens when you don’t become ELD compliant?

Ignoring the mandate can cut in your business’ bottom line right away, and have long-term consequences. Failure to comply with the ELD mandate can result in fines adding up to thousands of dollars.

Any CMV found to be operating without a compliant ELD will placed Out-of-Service for 8-10 hours, which can severely disrupt service and relationships with clients and customers, not to mention, negatively affect Safety Measurement System scores.

The goal of the mandate, however, isn’t to punish drivers, but rather to promote safety.

The technology aims to tackle driver fatigue, which is estimated to cause over 20% of fatal collisions. The general idea is that with electronic, tamper-proof HOS logs, drivers will not be able to alter or lie about their time spent driving, and will be forced to take breaks and allow for ample rest time between driving stints.

The FMCSA has lofty goals for the technology, estimating that ELD implementation will avoid over 1,800 crashes per year, resulting in 562 fewer injuries, and 26 lives spared. Most statistics support the claim that driving while fatigued is a significant safety hazard, and while ELD mandates in North America won’t eliminate driving tired altogether, many within the transportation industry are quick to stand behind the efforts and show support.

The ELD mandate does not pose any significant (immediate) changes to the current HOS regulations, but is aimed at a more strict enforcement of current laws. That isn’t to say that HOS laws won’t be affected eventually, but generally speaking, drivers and carriers can continue operations as normal.

Efficiency is an added benefit of the ELD mandateBesides helping to manage driver fatigue, both the U.S. and Canadian regulators have claimed that their respective mandates will have a significant positive impact on driver and carrier administrative duties. Digitizing the process of tracking hours and eliminating the need for physical paperwork is estimated to save some drivers nearly 100 hours per year, and will offer some reprieve from the mountains of paperwork many administrators are all too familiar with.

The fleet experts at Titan GPS are an excellent resource for determining your fleet’s needs and helping you find the right solution for your business. Our full-service solutions include training for drivers and administrators, ensuring that your business gets the most out of your investment.

Who Needs an ELD?

As a general rule, drivers and carriers who are currently required to use paper logbooks will also be required to switch to ELDs. Any Canadian carrier who operates within the U.S. will already be required to comply with the American version of the mandate, but those who are still utilizing the traditional system have until the June 12, 2020 deadline to find a compliant ELD solution.

Despite the deadline being over a year away in Canada, it may be good practice to start researching and adding ELDs to CMV fleets to allow for an adjustment and learning period for drivers, administrators, and fleet managers before the law takes effect.

Most large carriers who operate across multiple provinces, states, and territories will recognize that they require ELDs for their fleets, but many smaller, regional carriers may be surprised to find that they also fall under their respective country’s new ELD mandate as well.

The rules around who is required to implement ELDs can cause some confusion, as both the FMCSA and Transport Canada do allow for exemptions in certain situations. Talk to an expert at Titan GPS if you’re unclear on what your fleet needs, or if you are eligible for an exemption.

Titan GPS offers both live demonstrations and risk-free trials of our ELD solutions to help make the transition go as smoothly as possible, and ensure every business’ unique needs are met.

Who is Exempt from the ELD Mandate?

Certain vehicles are exempt for the ELD mandateThe new rules apply to all federally regulated carriers, but as is the case with many federal mandates, there are expected to be a few exceptions. There may be some grey area or uncertainty for carriers operating within these exceptions, so it is important to reach out to a fleet expert or government official to clarify any questions about requirements before the mandate takes effect.

The three main exceptions for the U.S. mandate, as stated by the FMCSA are:

  • Drivers conducting a drive-away-tow-away operation, if the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered, or if the vehicle being transported is a motorhome or recreational vehicle trailer.
  • Commercial vehicle models built before the year 2000.
  • Drivers who use paper logs for not more than 8 days during any 30 day period

It is expected that the Canadian mandate will follow similar, if not identical exemption parameters. It is important to note that those who fall under these exemptions are not necessarily free from keeping HOS or RODS data, they may still be required to keep paper logs.

However, the rules and regulations that govern long- and short-haul trucking and logistics aren’t necessarily the same ones that govern trucking-related activities in the Oil & Gas industry. Both Transport Canada and the FMCSA have granted Hours of Service regulatory exemptions regarding the Oil & Gas industry.

In Canada, this exemption is under section 16. Of the Motor Vehicle Transport Act and in the U.S., the exemption is under sections 390.3 and 395.1. Without getting into the nitty‑gritty, these exemptions are designed around the remote nature of the oil & gas industry.

In short, drivers can use “waiting time” as “off-duty” time. Additionally, they are entitled to a 24-hour restart cycle instead of the standard 36-hour restart cycle. These HOS rules are not likely to be affected by the ELD mandate, but always check with a government transportation representative about specific requirements such as oil & gas work.

Even in instances where ELD is not required, the benefits may outweigh the costs. Thousands of carriers across North America already implement GPS fleet tracking solutions, and ELD systems are proving to be an excellent compliment to fleet tracking to help manage drivers and fleet assets.

How Do ELDs Work?

Intended as a more accurate and tamper-proof replacement for paper logbooks, ELDs work by recording a variety of data to monitor and track driver status and HOS.

Different devices and apps will have different functionalities and capabilities, but at a minimum, a compliant ELD must record the current time and date (and time zone), location information, vehicle (specific to VIN), motor carrier, vehicle hours and miles/kilometers, and authenticated user information and duty status. Any other data, such as speed, idling time, and braking action are not required to be collected by ELDs, however many ELD solutions currently offered can in fact record such events when paired with a GPS tracking system.

This recording of data is achieved through a connection to the vehicle’s engine. This enables the capture of all required vehicle information, and the connection to an ELD app allows for the user to log in and authenticate themselves, toggle duty status, and transfer data when necessary.

 

How Do ELDs Work?

 

Again, ELD capabilities will differ based on device type and provider, but at a minimum, the governing body for the U.S. ELD mandate, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), states that an ELD must:

  • Connect to the truck’s engine to record if/when the truck is in motion.
  • Allow the driver to log in and select On-duty, Off-duty, or On-Duty Not Driving; drive segments must be auto-selected based on movement.
  • Graphically display a Record of Duty Status, so a driver can quickly see hours of service.
  • Provide data in a format that’s standardized and can be transmitted to law enforcement in a number of prescribed ways (wireless web and email services, USB 2.0, and/or Bluetooth).
  • Be provider-certified, ensuring that the device meets the proper specifications.
  • The device won’t allow any deletion of driving time and must be tamper-proof. Drivers will need to continue to keep supporting documents to verify HOS compliance (bills of lading, dispatch and trip reports, mobile communications, etc).
ELD records a variety of driver and vehicle data
A compliant ELD device must be capable of recording specific data.

The Canadian ELD mandate will likely follow very similar requirements, with one key difference: where the FMCSA requires that devices be provider-certified, the Canadian mandate will require a third-party certification.

That means that some ELDs already installed in CMVs may not be compliant under the Canadian mandate, regardless of their standing in the U.S. As of late November 2019, there has yet to be a formal announcement about those specific third-party certification requirements.

Titan GPS ELD solutions are fully compliant with the U.S. mandate, and as details emerge for the Canadian third-party certification, our goal is to ensure that we remain a leading provider of compliant ELD solutions for fleets all over North America.

Technology and Software Options

Generally speaking, ELD software operates on various modern devices like laptops, smart phones, and tablets, as long as the device meets the ELD rule’s technical specifications.

ELD solutions available through Titan GPS are optimized for both web and mobile use. Our mobile ELD app meets all those technical specifications, is compliant with the mandate, and is available on most major platforms for ease of implementation throughout a carrier’s fleet.

ELD Data

As a device intended to collect, store, and transfer data, there are bound to be questions surrounding who can access that data, and what can be done with it.

One of the more frequently asked questions is regarding the access and editing of ELD, specifically, who can edit an ELD record?

Despite being “tamper-proof” information recorded on ELDs is not written in stone. Entries can in fact be edited by drivers and/or authorized carrier staff, however, edits must be done to correct mistakes or add relevant information that was originally omitted.

Every edit must include an annotation to explain the reason for the edit. If a carrier makes an edit, the driver must certify that the edit is accurate and resubmit the records, which also protects drivers from having their data manipulated. Lack of certification from the driver will be noted in the ELD, and will be visible upon inspection of the records.

Another concern for many drivers and carriers is the storage and access of data by roadside inspectors and/or government organizations. The FMCSA has stated that no data will be retained unless there is a violation. Any data collected through normal ELD operation will only be seen outside of the carrier organization in the event of a roadside inspection, meaning law enforcement cannot monitor drivers remotely and initiate traffic stops based on live information.

In the event a driver is required to provide data to a roadside inspector, compliant ELDs must be able to do so using three methods:

  • Telematics Transfer: The ELD must be able to electronically transfer data to an authorized safety official via wireless web services AND email.
  • Local Transfer: The device must be able to transfer data via USB 2.0 AND Bluetooth.
  • Visual Transfer: The data must be available to be seen via a screen OR paper printout.

AOBRD vs. ELD

A common question about ELD compliance centres around the use of Automatic On-Board Recording Devices (AOBRD). Specifically, whether or not AOBRDs are compliant with the new mandates.

What is AOBRD and what makes it different to ELD?

AOBRDs are a version of an electronic logbook for recording HOS and RODS data in place of paper logbooks, similar to what an ELD does. The key difference, however, is the lack of engine-connectedness in AOBRDs.

Both the U.S. and Canadian mandates explicity state that a compliant ELD must have a connection to the CMV’s engine, which is why AOBRDs don’t count as compliant.

Should you be concerned about AOBRD?

In the U.S., businesses with commercial vehicles that had installed an AOBRD prior to December 2017 were given 2 years to migrate to an ELD solution. As of December 16, 2019, AOBRDs are no longer compliant in the U.S., and carriers are required to make the permanent switch to ELDs.

While the United States had a 4‑year grandfathering period for users to transition from AOBRD to compliant ELD solutions, Canada will not have the same luxury ‑ the June 12, 2021 deadline is for total ELD compliance, regardless of AOBRD use on or before that date. With regards to the deadline date, Transport Minister Marc Garneau said: “The two‑year implementation period may seem quick for some truck owners, but I want to reassure you that this period will allow them enough time to set up and install the devices.”

Canadian carriers currently using or considering AOBRDs for their fleets should strongly consider an ELD solution to avoid the unnecessary stress of switching closer to the mandate implementation date.

U.S. carriers should have made the switch to a compliant ELD solution by December of 2019, as the grandfathering period has now ended, meaning AOBRDs are no longer a viable option for tracking HOS.

Where Do I Get an ELD and How Much Does it Cost?

Estimated ELD Costs
The costs of ELD devices will vary based on device type, service plan, GPS tracking integration, provider, and more.

In both Canada and the U.S., there are a number of providers of both ELDs as well as GPS fleet tracking solutions. As ELDs are already a requirement south of the border and are on the horizon for Canada, it is important to treat the technology as an investment into your business.

Like any investment, making an informed decision based on the specific needs of your fleet outweighs simply purchasing the least expensive device available.

There are a number of factors to consider, not the least of which is compliance with the ELD mandate. As we’ll explain further down this article, both the American and Canadian ELD mandates have specific functionality parameters that must be met in order for a device to be compliant – failure to install a compliant ELD device can result in hefty fines and/or costly downtime.

Another factor to consider when researching the right ELD for your business is whether you want full GPS fleet tracking and monitoring capabilities. Many ELDs will be an excellent complement to fleet tracking systems, but it is entirely possible to be compliant with the mandate regardless of GPS integration.

Titan GPS is a leading provider of both ELDs and GPS fleet tracking solutions. Our team of experts can help any business find the right solution for their unique needs, and of course, meet the standards required for ELD mandate compliance.

 

3 Biggest Concerns About ELD

While there is plenty of evidence suggesting the ELD mandate will be an overall win for drivers, carriers, and general road safety, the new regulations haven’t come without some pushback from those within the industries affected.

Concern 1: Drivers will see a decrease in earnings.

A significant concern amongst those within the trucking industry is the impact it may have on some driver’s earnings. Regardless of whether a driver is compensated based on mileage or hours, there will likely be some sort of impact felt by the implementation on ELDs.  As many people know, paper logbooks were easily altered so that drivers could go above and beyond their allotted hours according to HOS rules – which is one of the main things that ELDs are being implemented to eliminate. However, with the ‘ability’ to work for a few extra hours being taken away because of the new rules, some truckers assume they may see a significant drop in their yearly income.

Concern 2: Lack of rest areas will force drivers to violate HOS.

Another prominent concern drivers had regarding ELD implementation was parking (or more accurately, finding a place to rest). Some drivers feared that without being able to change the numbers on their paper logbooks, that they would either be forced to break their HOS, or be stuck with no place to park and rest when their driveable hours ran out.

Steps are being taken to help solve this problem, such as the Truck Parking Information Management System (TPIMS) that is designed to let drivers and fleet managers know where there is parking available throughout major freight corridors in the U.S.

In Canada, studies are being launched to assess truck parking in problematic areas with limited places to park and rest. There are now even smartphone apps available to show drivers where rest areas are located.

Concern 3: Switching over to ELDs will be expensive.

As with any switch to a new technology, there are obviously going to be costs associated. Both the hardware and subscription fees for ELDs are factors that need to be considered when finding an ELD solution. One option is to simply find the lowest-cost solution to ensure compliance.

On the other hand, fleet-wide implementation of GPS tracking technology is also an excellent investment with a proven ability to increase profits. More and more fleets across North America are using the ELD mandate as an opportunity to find technology solutions that will help the business thrive in the short- and long- term.

With a fleet tracking and management solution that compliments the required ELD, carriers and businesses in nearly every industry can find new efficiencies and opportunities that will turn the costs of ELD into an investment with real potential for return.

Titan GPS is a leading provider of both ELD and GPS tracking and fleet management solutions. By adding the GPS component, fleet operators open the door to a variety of features that are proven to help take businesses to a new level of efficient.

Concerns around overall costs, driver earnings and complying with HOS rules are likely not going away any time soon, but with the ELD mandate already in effect in the U.S. and nearing implementation in Canada, drivers and carriers are finding ways to adjust to the new normal.

What’s Next for Your Fleet Business? ELD Compliance with Titan GPS

Titan GPS has been actively engaged as the ELD mandate has developed, ensuring our solutions are up to the standards set by the governing bodies.

Here’s what we can do for your fleet business:

 

To date, we have launched a fully compliant, integrated engine-connected, FMCSA registered ELD solution suitable for U.S. operations. As more information becomes available about the Canadian mandate and the subsequent device requirements are released, our team is carefully adapting our solution for total compliance across North America.

Our knowledgeable experts are familiar with both Canadian and U.S. rules and regulations, and are here to help find the right solution for your business’ unique needs. Request a Quote and one of our experts can help start preparing your fleet for the future.

 

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