What is the ELD Mandate in Commercial Trucking?

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For truck drivers, the concept of an ELD (Electronic Logging Device) is probably not an unfamiliar one. ELDs and similar devices allow for electronic logging of hours by syncing up with the truck’s engine. Both truckers and fleet managers can then access this information, reducing paperwork and allowing for better distribution of duties. It’s a big step for truck driver safety regulation in California as well as across the nation.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) finalized the ELD Mandate in December 2015. As the first deadline to comply passed in December 2017, understanding the ELD Mandate is a must for anyone in the trucking industry.

What Does the ELD Mandate Do?

The ELD Mandate has its origins in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century bill, also known as MAP-21. Passed by Congress in 2012, MAP-21 outlined criteria for highway funding and included a provision regarding mandated use of ELDs. FMCSA was to develop rules that required use of ELDs.

The ELD Mandate is based on a previous regulation for the use of electronic on-board recording devices (EOBR) that did not last once implemented. The previous standard was concerned with fleets that had serious Hours of Service (HOS) compliance issues. Unlike the current ELD Mandate, the previous regulation did not require all trucks to implement electronic tracking devices.

With the implementation of the ELD Mandate, fleets had until December 2017 to equip their trucks with ELDs. Fleets already using different electronic logging technology, such as automatic on-board recording devices (AOBRDs), have until December 2019 to ensure their currently installed technology meets published specifications.

How Does the ELD Mandate Help Fleets?

Before technological advances, fleets had to use paper log books to keep track of their hours. Paper logs are prone to human error and can contain false information. Since ELDs connect to the truck’s engine, they have a much more accurate record of when drivers are operating their vehicles. ELDs also record changes in a driver’s duty status.

Keeping track of when vehicles are in operation also plays a role in tracking HOS compliance. With the ELD Mandate, fleet operators can keep immediate track of how long a driver has been working and assign or stop work accordingly.

What are the Benefits of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs)?

Even before the passing of the ELD Mandate, many fleets took advantage of ELDs and similar devices to reduce overall paperwork. For drivers, stopping to fill out paper logs took up a significant amount of their time. From a logistical standpoint, transferring and referring to paper records was also time-consuming and less efficient than keeping electronic records.

ELDs also help dispatchers. When dispatchers have up-to-date information on a driver’s HOS, they can give assignments that better comply to HOS needs. Not exceeding HOS helps keep truck drivers from performing excessive amounts of work and driving in unsafe conditions, thus preventing trucking accidents.

Equipment Alternatives

Depending on the size of a fleet, installing ELDs in all trucks can be an expensive venture. Reducing paperwork does bring a cost benefit, but it does not equal out to the cost of installing ELDs. For fleets that already have AOBRDs in place, they will not need to make the switch to ELDs until December 2019, allowing time to gather funds and implement budgets.

Keeping aware of the affordability concern, the ELD Mandate includes allowances for smartphone, tablet, and handheld systems to serve the role of ELDs, so long as they meet FMCSA specifications. The use of familiar devices also makes it easy for truckers to become used to the new technology and provides flexibility in device choices.

The ELD Mandate serves to improve safety and fleet documentation procedures by integrating ELD technology into fleet vehicles and replacing previous logbook methods.

Contact the experienced California truck accident attorneys at Panish | Shea | Ravipudi LLP about your case today! (877) 800-1700