Many commercial fleet drivers have been distrustful of electronic logging devices (ELDs) at first. Others were concerned about the ELD mandate and the changes it involves. There’s no reason to be worried.
There are a lot of myths and rumors circulating about electronic logging devices that cause mistrust and fear. That’s why some drivers try to postpone the implementation of e-Logs. However, once the truck drivers start to use ELDs and experience the benefits of this new technology, they never want to return to old, tedious paper logbooks.
Electronic logging devices bring greater accountability to those who work within HoS compliance constraints. They are designed to make fleet operations more transparent and record the duty status of drivers. Furthermore, these devices can reduce operating costs and improve productivity.
Here, we will provide everything you need to know about electronic logging devices. Let’s dig in and discover all the important facts about ELDs.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is an ELD?
- 2 Why Do Truckers Need ELDs?
- 3 ELD vs. Paper Logs
- 4 ELDs vs. AOBRDs: What’s the Difference?
- 5 How to Use an ELD?
- 6 How to Fill Out Drivers Daily Logs?
- 7 Conclusion
What is an ELD?
It is an electronic logging device that connects to the engine of a vehicle through the diagnostic port and records driving hours, as well as other driver activity data like RODS (record of duty status) and HOS (hours of service).
An ELD (hardware or tablet computer) is carried in the vehicle cab, and it has a screen that lets the driver view the current status. It also allows the driver to print logs and show them to road inspectors or law authorities. These devices provide a simple yet accurate means of maintaining the records.
Electronic logging devices (ELDs) have replaced traditional recording systems and become an essential part of almost all commercial trucks. ELDs are intended to make it easier for trucking companies and truckers to perform already-required tasks rather than imposing an extra layer of regulations.
How Do ELDs Work?
ELDs work by communicating with the ECU (engine control unit) to get the engine status. At the same time, they provide real-time, accurate location info to the apps or logging devices, which can be checked by DOT officials when required.
An ELD should be DOT certified to be employed for recording Hours of Service. While the data are recorded automatically, there are entries that support staff or truck drivers who need to edit or annotate manually.
Vehicle info recorded and conveyed by electronic logging devices include:
- Motor carrier and vehicle identification
- Geographic location
- Date and time
- Yard moves
- Miles traveled
- Engine shutdown and power up
- Engine malfunction and diagnostics
ELDs also capture driver information like:
- Hours of service (HOS)
- Driver log-in/log-off
- Driver identification
- Duty status (off duty, on duty, driving)
- Daily record certification
All the driver and vehicle data are uploaded and stored in telematics systems. Both office personnel and fleet managers can quickly gain access to data. HOS data can be displayed on the in-cab tablet and presented to roadside inspection if needed.
Why Do Truckers Need ELDs?
Commercial truck truckers need ELDs to become compliant with the ELD mandate and keep operating. As you may know, FMCSA published the final ELD Mandate in 2015. The majority of truck drivers switched to ELDs by December 2017 when the first deadline of this rule passed.
Those who have already installed and used AOBRDs (automatic onboard recording devices) theretofore were grandfathered under ELD rule. They have had an additional 2 years to go through the transition and implement ELDs (until 12/16/2019 – full compliance phase).
Do I Need an ELD?
According to the FMCSA, the ELD rule doesn’t change the Hours of Service regulations. This rule applies to all drivers and motor carriers who were previously obligated to file RODs (Record of Duty Status). It applies to commercial trucks and buses alike.
In addition to truck drivers, owner-operators, and CMV drivers operating across the United States, Mexico- and Canada-domiciled drivers are also required to comply. There are some exceptions, though. Some motor vehicles and drivers are exempt from the ELD rule, including:
- Drivers keeping their logs for up to 8 days over the course of 30 days.
- Those driving vehicles made before the model year 2000.
- Short-haul drivers who operate under the 100- or 150-air mile radius.
- Transportation of Agricultural Commodities that include livestock, agricultural, and farm vehicles.
- Drivers conducting driveaway or towaway operations like transporting empty vehicles for repair, sale, or lease.
What Are the Benefits of Using ELDs?
Basically, truck drivers need telematics technology to handle these 3 finable areas:
- The maximum daily driving time allowed
- Log errors and warnings
- Having up-to-date logs
However, it’s not all about compliance with rules. ELDs are also meant to create a safer environment for truck drivers and owner-operators besides ensuring compliance. They make it faster and easier to share, track, and manage ROD data.
By using electronic logging devices, trucking companies can:
- Reduce Administrative Burden
- Minimize Fuel Wastage
- Identify Fault Codes and Bad Driving Behaviors
- Monitor Vehicles Actively and Optimize Routes
- Automate IFTA Calculation
- Reduce Liabilities
- Prevent Crashes and Increase Safety
- Improve CSA Score
- Get Lower Insurance Rates
- Achieve Higher Profits
ELD vs. Paper Logs
Ever since the paper logs have been replaced with e-logs, carriers and drivers have wondered what that will mean for them and their business. Many have regarded it as just another way of losing money. Today, most of them love ELDs and would never use paper logs again.
What ELDs provide that old paper logbooks cannot offer? Well, electronic logging devices offer a variety of features like load matching, fuel monitoring, GPS tracking, as well as route planning and mapping, just to mention a few. These things are not feasible with the use of paper logs.
ELDs also offer some significant advantages such as:
- Easy and quick data access
- Real-time info can be seen anytime
- Users can easily search for specific log entries and records
- No hassle of keeping up with a bunch of papers
- Fewer HOS violations
- Improved alertness
Any shortcomings? ELDs are not free, unlike paper, and they include an added expense. Other than that, those who’ve used paper logs for quite a while might be on a steep learning curve.
While paper logs are inexpensive and allow drivers to turn more miles by working overtime, they have a lot of drawbacks.
- Paper logs are prone to damage
- Filling out paper logs is a tedious and time-consuming process
- It is difficult to search paper logs and find specific entries
- Paper logs not only make road inspections lengthy but also complicate audits
- No added features and benefits for drivers
- Paper logs aren’t submitted promptly
ELDs vs. AOBRDs: What’s the Difference?
Electronic logging devices (ELDs) and automatic onboard-recording devices (AOBRDs) are electronic gadgets that record HOS (hours of service) of commercial drivers. While they both share some common functions and features, AOBRDs don’t meet all the regulations defined by the ELD rule. So, what’s the difference?
There are several differences between ELDs and AOBRD devices. The latter can’t display or record as much information as electronic logging devices. Other key differences include:
- Automated Driving Status – AOBRDs don’t record driving status automatically in contrast to electronic logging devices.
- Roadside Inspections – AOBRDs don’t provide the format that’s used for logs transfer, whereas ELDs transfer data via USB, Bluetooth, or web services.
- Editing Driver’s Records – Records of duty status generated and maintained by AOBRD devices may be edited by carriers so that they precisely reflect the activity. In the remark section, carriers should include explanations of the mistakes. When it comes to ELDs, every edit made by the driver/carrier must have a particular annotation that explains the reason.
- Location Records – AOBRDs generate location records that can be either automatic or manually recorded, while ELDs automatically capture coordinates and display the geolocation information.
- Unidentified Driving Trips – These are not required when it comes to AOBRDs. As for the ELDs, unidentified driving trips must be recorded in case the vehicles are operated without drivers logged in.
Once again, it is important to note that AOBRDs are not still compliant. All commercial fleets and drivers subject to the ELD mandate who operate in the USA have had to replace their AOBRDs with FMCSA-registered ELDs by December 16, 2019. No deadline extensions.
How to Use an ELD?
Installing an ELD
The installation process consists of 3 basic steps. Let’s break it down for you.
- Step 1 – finding a diagnostic port: Depending on the vehicle model and make, the diagnostic port can be positioned in the fuse box, underneath the wheel or dash, above the footrest, above the pedals, to the right or left of the pedals, next to the handbrake or clutch pedal. In some vehicles, the connector is located under a plastic cover that needs to be removed.
- Step 2 – attaching an ELD to the diagnostic port. If your truck has an OBDII connector, then you will have to line up the connector making sure it matches the port and press firmly so that the ELD is properly connected. In the event of the 6-pin or 9-pin connector, you should rotate the collar, fit the ELD device, press it firmly, and turn your collar back till it clicks.
- Step 3 – Ensure that your ELD device doesn’t interfere with or totally block the vehicle pedals. Make sure it doesn’t obstruct the driver by any means. Do not install it right under metal surfaces.
As a driver, you can’t have more than one driver account. It must have a unique password and identification number as well. The accounts for administrative functions need to be created separately.
Once a driver logs in, he is supposed to review driving time that is not assigned. It is also important to add the ‘Unidentified Driver’ profile to the driver record. Otherwise, the truck driver should add an annotation, which explains that unassigned hours aren’t his.
How to Fill Out Drivers Daily Logs?
While many truck drivers may never have to manually fill out daily logs, it’s important for a better understanding of what functions and operations ELDs handle. Another reason for this is that the correctness of logs produced by ELDs should be certified by drivers. Therefore, we will highlight the major points of the driver’s daily logs.
Starting the Shift
Truck drivers should begin every shift by entering the following info in their logbooks:
- The name of the driver
- The start time and the date
- The cycle that the driver is following
- The address and name of the home terminal
- The license plate number
- The odometer reading
Recording Hours of Service On the Road
Fleet drivers are also required to update their logbooks every time the duty status changes. Electronic logging devices do this automatically, so drivers now don’t have to worry about duty status changes. ELDs save them the hassle of updating their duty status.
Their duty status can be on-duty, off-duty, or driving. They can also be in the sleeper berth or on duty but not driving (for up to 3 hours a day). Commercial drivers were also be required to indicate how many hours were spent in every status and mark it on the logbook grid.
It was also necessary to record the total distance driven as well as odometer readings at the end of the day. To finalize their HOS records, the truck drivers have had to sign the logbooks and thus verify that the data provided are correct and accurate.
As you can see, there are a lot of reasons to embrace electronic logging devices (ELDs). In addition to making fleets remain HOS compliant, these devices help truck drivers reduce paperwork time, eliminate expensive errors, avoid violations, ease communication with dispatchers, improve safety, and much more.
By automating the driver logging process, ELDs have significantly simplified and sped up roadside inspections. Truck drivers who’ve made the switch to e-Logs say that they would never get back to paper logbooks and AOBRDs or other old systems.
These devices involve less work not only for fleet managers and truck drivers but also for local and federal authorities. It is a win-win for everyone.