What You Need to Know About ELD Requirements for Trucks

eld devices for trucks

Having the right electronic logging device (ELD) for your fleet can lead to an improvement in Compliance, Safety and Accountability (CSA) scores for your drivers. If you’re an owner-operator, it’s a convenient and timesaving tool for efficient recordkeeping. The digital format allows you to keep these records more easily than ever before, and you can also use your ELD to communicate with the Department of Transportation (DOT) seamlessly during long hauls.

Since April 1, 2018, the United States has required every commercial truck to use an ELD. In Canada, it will be required by June 12, 2021. The ELD streamlines record-keeping and maintains a permanent record that can be easily accessed. All information is available in one electronic console instead of being written down in logbooks that can be misplaced. For the driver, it also makes keeping up with Records of Duty Status (RODS) convenient.

ELD Functions and Uses

Your ELD doesn’t just record hours of service. It also provides a log-in and log-out feature and records when the engine is on and off. Duty status is noted and engine malfunctions are recorded. The data in an ELD can be edited with annotations, and a complete record of edits is preserved for examination by DOT inspectors.

The ELD is a valuable maintenance tool for fleets with many trucks. Because of its engine diagnostic function, it helps fleet administrators keep tabs on which trucks need upgrades and repairs. All of the ELDs we’ve reviewed on elddevices.net offer the features you expect to find on the latest ELD models.

Fill out our simple questionnaire with details about your truck or fleet and the type of business you use it for. We can help you narrow down the choices and find financing to equip your trucks with the latest ELD technology.

Specifications and Requirements

According to the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), an ELD must record a commercial truck as being in driving mode when it reaches a speed of five miles per hour. It records all of the data below at various intervals:

  • Date
  • Time
  • Location
  • Vehicle
  • Mileage
  • Engine hours
  • Driver ID
  • User authorization
  • Motor carrier

Important Features

All of these features are needed in an ELD for full compliance and ease of use by drivers and managers:

  • Individual accounts for drivers and administrators
  • Driving time recorded in 60-minute intervals
  • Driver copy of records through digital display or printout
  • Driver certification requirement every 24 hours
  • Ability to connect on all data platforms
  • Retention of data without tampering
  • Records kept for seven consecutive days
  • Assignment of driving records to driver or others
  • Access to all information by DOT and law enforcement officials

ELD Reporting and Connectivity

Data is provided in a standard format that can be read by fleet managers, law enforcement and the DOT. The record from your ELD can be transmitted in these four ways:

  • Wireless internet signal
  • Cell phone signal
  • Bluetooth 2.0
  • USB cable

Many new ELDs have a wireless hotspot built in. You can not only use this connection to transmit logging information, but also to access the web through a tablet or other wireless device. Fleet owners can use this connectivity to view the routes and timeframes of all trucks in operation. Between cell phone and internet providers, a signal is almost always available for immediate updates. Fleet managers can also opt for push notifications that let them know in real time whether a driver is operating the vehicle safely.

Transfer of data via Bluetooth and USB doesn’t update records for fleet managers in real time. However, it does continue to provide information to the driver when the truck passes through areas with no cell phone or internet signal. The record can be immediately updated as soon as an internet signal is once more available.

Differences Between AOBRD and ELD

Onboard (AOBRD) recording devices are an older form of recordkeeping when compared to ELD technology. An onboard device connects to the vehicle engine and records hours of service. However, it records less information than an ELD, and it doesn’t have the convenient digital data display. An ELD is connected to the truck’s engine computer, also called the electronic control module (ECM), instead of directly to the engine. Here are a few of the benefits of ELD over AOBRD:

  • More precise synchronization of data
  • Enhanced location recording
  • Display or printout of changes to duty status
  • Universal Coordinated Time (UTC) synchronization

An ELD automatically switches the duty status to ‘On-Duty, Not Driving’ when a truck doesn’t move for five minutes with no response from the driver. It also records the vehicle’s location at one-hour intervals while it’s being driven. An ELD even tracks the beginning and end times when a truck is being moved within a truck yard.

ELD Regulations

eld regulationsIn the United States, the grace period for trucks using AOBRD will expire December 16, 2019. Commercial vehicles in Canada will have to phase out AOBRD and install ELD by June 12, 2021. To prevent hacking and manipulation, Canada is requiring that all ELDs be certified by a third party. In the United States, ELDs are self-certified by the manufacturer using FMCSA certification standards.

There are a few differences between U.S. and Canadian ELDs. They mostly deal with reporting requirements and units of measurement. However, there has been a cooperative effort to ensure smooth transport between the two countries at the nearly 80 crossing points for Canadian and U.S. commercial vehicles.

Electronic Logging Device Exceptions

Four categories of commercial vehicles are exempt from the ELD requirement:

Older Trucks: Vehicle with engines manufactured before 2000 don’t have to have an ELD. This exemption is based on the age of the engine, not the truck body.

Drive-Away or Tow-Away Operations: When vehicles are being transported by another truck, they don’t have to have ELDs onboard. This also applies to trucks towing recreational vehicles and motorhomes.

Short-Haul Drivers: Drivers who are only required to maintain a Record of Duty Status (RODS) for up to 8 days in a 30-day period aren’t required to keep electronic logs. This allows short-haul drivers to take occasional longer hauls without having to upgrade to an ELD.

Daily Transport Drivers: Some drivers pick up a vehicle at the beginning of a shift, make deliveries, and then return the vehicle at the end of the day. As long as deliveries are made within a 100-mile radius, they are also exempt.

How to Choose the Best ELD

To start, check the list of electronic logging devices approved for use in the United States and Canada. At elddevices.net, we’ve reviewed the 12 top-selling ELDs for 2019 according to the best features, affordability, and compliance. Whether you need electronic monitoring devices for a personal rig, a small fleet, or a larger operation, you can find one to provide exactly what you’re looking for in an ELD.

best eld

When choosing an ELD for your fleet or rig, consider the following:

  • FMCSA certification
  • Ease of installation
  • Ease of use
  • Affordability
  • Portability
  • Technical Support
  • GPS functionality
  • Extras like fuel monitoring
  • Monthly fee

A quality ELD will be able to access all forms of web connectivity, including internet towers, phone towers, Bluetooth 2.0 and USB. Take the survey we provided to assess your individual needs to find out which ELDs are right for your business.

Other ELD Resources

After you’ve read our expert reviews, check out the feedback from actual users. Each ELD system will have consumer reviews, and they can give you an idea of whether a particular system will work for your business. You can even find tips and tricks for installing and operating various ELDs from customer reviews.

It’s also a good idea to check the files of the Better Business Bureau. You’ll find a record on the BBB website of whether complaints have been made against any ELD manufacturers. Also, be sure to list your new system as a tax deduction for your business, as you would any other business-related expense.

Benefits of ELD Technology

Verifiable records and automatic accountability will remove some of the headaches of recordkeeping for drivers. It will also cut down on driver fatigue, and it’s expected that this will lower the incidence of traffic accidents involving commercial vehicles. For fleet administrators, ELD offers an easier workload for verifying logbooks. Besides increasing road safety, comparable standards between Canada and the United States will increase trade and benefit the economies of both countries.

Using an ELD is a positive step for the driving workforce. In the past, drivers were sometimes harassed if their records didn’t fit the expectations of the shipping companies they worked for. The unscrupulous actions of these few companies reflected poorly on the rest. With ELD technology, records can no longer be changed without a clear record of when they were altered and by whom.

Simply by taking our short survey and entering your zip code, you can access a list of the most effective and cutting-edge ELD systems available in your area. (At this time, we only cover the United States.) We’ll email you a list of devices along with their pricing details and most important features. And, in addition to the elddevices.net buyers guide, we offer a free consultation to help you choose the best ELD for your company.

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