What to Know About the ELD Mandate

Oct 25, 2022 3:37:32 PM / by Mike Riegel

The ELD mandate was introduced in December 2017, requiring all commercial motor vehicles to keep their Hours of Service (HOS) logs electronically. This was a huge shift from the old way of keeping track of HOS logs using paper logbooks. Years into the ELD mandate, there is still some confusion on what it is, who is exempt, what is required to be collected, and what restrictions are placed on manufactures.

This guide will provide some of the information you will need to understand how electronic logs work and how to make the best decision for choosing a provider.


Who needs an ELD?

ELDs, also known as electronic logs or e-logs, are a system that allows commercial motor carriers and drivers to keep their record of duty status (RODS) logs electronically. Heavy-duty truck drivers, medium-duty truck drivers, light-duty vehicle drivers, and bus drivers all need to keep a record of duty status if they operate a motor vehicle commercially for financial gain.

If you have ever had to keep an hours of service record or log book then chances are you will need an ELD. However, there are some exemptions.

keep hos violations off of your csa score

Who is exempt from using an ELD?

There are a few instances for drivers to be exempt for using electronic log books.

  • Drivers who use paper logs no more than 8 days during any 30-day period.

  • Short Haul drivers who stay local within 150 air miles and don't exceed a 14-hour work day.

  • Driveaway-towaway drivers (where their vehicle is the commodity) or the vehicle being transported is a motor home or a recreation vehicle trailer (at least one set of wheels of the vehicle being transported must be on the surface while being transported)

  • Drivers of vehicles manufactured before model year 2000.

There are a few carriers who have been specifically exempted from use of ELDs.

  • Truck Renting and Leasing Association
    • Effective: October 11, 2017; Expires: October 11, 2022
  • United Parcel Service
    • Effective: October 20, 2017; Expires: October 20, 2022
  • Motion Picture Association of America
    • Effective: January 19, 2018; Expires: January 19, 2023


Agricultural ELD exemption (Ag exempt)

The HOS regulations do not apply to the transportation of agricultural commodities operating completely within the 150 air-mile radius by for hire or private carriers. Therefore, work and driving hours are not limited and the driver is also not required to use an Electronic Logging Device (ELD) or keep paper logs. In an operation where a driver uses a vehicle equipped with an ELD, a driver that is exempt can use an “Exempt Driver” account or annotate the time as exempt ag operation.

Read the full list of agricultural exemptions here.

ELDs can benefit the exempt even if you do not need it to comply with the ELD mandate. There are a lot of features that can help carriers gain visibility or improve their operations.


What does an ELD need to do?

The ELD itself is a complicated piece of hardware that must conform to the detailed guidelines set by the FMCSA's ELD mandate.

There are over 200 specific items that an ELD manufacture must check off to self-certify their electronic logging device for the market. Each certified ELD also goes through testing and periodic review by the FMCSA. You can use the FMCSA's tips for choosing a compliant ELD and also reading more about what an ELD has to do to be compliant.


How do I get an ELD?

Choosing the right ELD is a long and thoughtful process that shouldn't be taken lightly. Deciding to go with the cheapest or first solution you come to can leave you exposed to a bad experience or locked into a multi-year contract with a service you do not need.

After you know what an ELD must do and can't do, you will need to research ELD providers to see what services they offer and make sure they are in line with what you need. Create a shortlist of providers you like and check them against the FMCSA's approved list of ELD vendors.

Make sure you don't select any ELD that is on the revoked list of ELDs. Drivers using non-compliant ELDs have to buy a different ELD within 60 days, losing any money they have sunk into the revoked system.


What happens if I don't get an ELD?

Violations for not having an ELD or properly using an ELD are some of the stiffest violations you can receive. If terms of damage to your CSA score, they rank just below driving under the influence when it comes to severity. A driver's logbook should be a top priority when it comes to driving a motor vehicle and using an ELD is the way to show that to DOT.


Topics: ELDs, Logbook, FMCSA

Mike Riegel

Written by Mike Riegel