As of December 16, 2019, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s ELD mandate has gone into full effect. Inspectors have now started to fully enforce the ELD mandate and it is imperative that motor carriers abide by the requirements of this mandate.
Who Must Use ELDs?
Generally speaking, commercial drivers who used to maintain paper logbooks are required to transition to ELDs under the new mandate. However, there are some exceptions to this regulation. The following scenarios do not require the mandatory implementation of ELDs:
- Drivers that focus primarily on short-haul operations that use the logbook timecard exception (i.e., 100 air-miles for CDL drivers) can continue to keep records of their daily log on paper;
- Drivers of vehicles that have engines manufactured prior to 2000 as a result of electronic connectivity capability of the engine;
- Drivers who operate in a driveaway-towaway service in which the vehicle they are driving is a product or commodity being delivered; and
- Most recently, drivers who have rented a truck for eight days or less.
Of the exceptions above, the short-haul exemption and the 100 air-mile exemption for CDL drivers can be the hardest to understand. Drivers who meet the short-haul exemptions outlined in section 395.1 (e) of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations are not required to use ELDs under the recent mandate. FMCSA recognizes that these drivers occasionally do not meet the conditions of these exemptions. In those instances, drivers are required to keep a paper log. However, drivers who use a paper log more than eight days in any rolling 30-day period must start using ELDs when they are not operating under the exception.
As for the 100 air-mile exemption for CDL drivers, they are exempt from the ELDs mandate if they meet all of the following criteria:
- Operate within a 100 air-mile radius;
- Go off duty within 12 hours;
- Reports back to the same work location every day; and
- Have at least 10 consecutive hours off before starting their next on-duty period.
If even one of the above criteria is not met, then the driver will not benefit from the 100 air-mile exemption on that day. It is worth noting, however, that this exemption is optional.
While drivers operating under an exception are not required to maintain detailed logs of their duty status, they are required to keep track of their on-duty time and therefore must maintain an accurate record of:
- The time they go on duty;
- The total number of hours they are on duty; and
- The time they go off duty.
Data Collection and Sharing:
For an ELD to be compliant with the FMCSA, the device must be certified by the vendor and listed on the agency’s online registry. There are some 150 different ELDs that have been registered on the FMCSA website. There are two primary options for data transfer using the ELDs; a telematics option using web-based services or email, or a local option using Bluetooth or USB.
ELDs also must be able to handle one of the two methods for backing up data transfer. You can either choose an ELD with a graphical display that an inspector can view without entering the vehicle, or having an ELD that can print the driver’s log data.
In the event that an ELD malfunctions, the damaged unit must be replaced within eight days of the problem being discovered. During those eight days, drivers are permitted to maintain paper logs until the ELD returns to standard operating procedures.
It is imperative that companies and their drivers understand the requirements of the ELD mandate as vehicles can be placed out of service for as long as 10 hours for an ELD violation.
Drivers must maintain a weeks’ worth of ELD data for law enforcement review. That includes metadata such as the driver’s name, time, and status. Documentation can also include bills of lading, manifests, dispatch records, expense receipts, and payroll documents. This documentation is essential if a driver needs to support his hours of service.
All jurisdictions are required to document a driver or carrier’s inspection report noting that they are in violation of the ELD regulations, which will lead to subsequent inquiries into compliance on all future stops and inspections.
ELD Unit Malfunction:
If a driver’s ELD malfunctions, a driver must do the following to comply with the new mandate.
- Driver must note the malfunction or error of the ELD and provide written notice to the motor carrier within 24 hours of the ELD malfunction;
- Driver must reconstruct the record of duty status (RODS) for the current 24-hour period and the previous seven consecutive days, and record the RODS on graph grid paper logs, or electronic software that complies with 49 CFR 395.8, unless the driver already has the records or retrieves them from the ELD; and
- Driver must continue to prepare RODS until the ELD is serviced and back in compliance. However, the paper log cannot continue for more than eight days after the malfunction. A driver that continues to record HOS on a paper log or electronic logging software beyond the eight days may be placed out of service.
Written by associate Patrick Wachter.