A Timeline of the ELD Mandate: History & Important Dates

The new electronic logging device (ELD) mandate has motor carriers in the trucking industry scrambling to make the needed modifications to their vehicles in time for the compliance deadline. However, this legislation was far from a surprise to those who have followed the procedures of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) for the last several decades. An ELD mandate has been long in the works, and even before the legislation for it had been drafted, organizations like the IIHS were advocating for the standardization of devices that would accurately track service time for commercial vehicles. This blog outlines some of the important dates in the history of the ELD mandate, from its inception to its institution. We’ll also discuss the implementation timeline for the policy, including the fast-approaching deadlines for compliance.

ELD Mandate History

The ELD mandate has been in the works for some time. Here are some of the key dates in the history of this legislation:

In the mid-1980s, motor carriers first started using ELDs to record hours of service for drivers. These devices were functional, but not what we would call “high tech” by today’s standards. Wireless technologies like satellite communication and cellular networks were in their infancy, making it difficult to transmit data between carriers and their fleets.

In 1986, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) began lobbying the Department of Transportation for a mandate that would require motor carriers to use electronic logging devices on all their vehicles. This was the first political action in regards to electronic logging devices.

In 1988, regulations were introduced that defined Automatic On-Board Recording Devices (AOBRDs) and standardized how they would be used in the industry. AOBRDs are like ELDs but are differentiated by a few technicalities. For example, AOBRDs aren’t required to connect to the engine of the truck, but ELDs must do so by law.

In the year 2000, the FMCSA first attempted to reform hours of service (HOS) regulations to mandate the use of electronic tracking devices. This attempt to mandate HOS tracking with an ELD device was shot down by a 2004 court order.

On April 5th, 2010, the second genuine attempt was made to establish a mandatory ELD rule. The Department of Transportation announced, in the Federal Register, a rule which allowed the FMCSA to mandate electronic logging devices for carriers with the most egregious track records of non-compliance with HOS legislation.

On July 6th, 2012, The United States Congress passed the MAP-21 Act (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century), requiring that the FMCSA develop a rule that would mandate ELDs. They were also required to conduct a study as to how best to implement ELDs, as well as address concerns surrounding the risk of ELDs being used to harass or coerce drivers.

On December 16th, 2015, the final ELD mandate was published. This includes guidelines for manufacturers on how to build compliant ELDs and what features are required, guidelines for how to track HOS using and ELD, and provisions to protect drivers from harassment.

ELD Mandate Timeline

Now that the ELD mandate has been signed into law, the FMCSA has created a strict compliance schedule that gives motor carriers enough time to adapt their current systems to the new laws. Here are the key dates in the ELD mandate timeline that you need to know.

February 16th, 2016, is when the ELD mandate officially went into effect. This was a full 60 days after the ELD mandate was originally published in the register. The FMCSA has divided the implementation timeline into 3 phases:

Phase One: Awareness and Transition Phase – This phase is intended to last from February 16, 2016 until December 18, 2017. During this time, all methods of logging HOS are acceptable, including paper logs, logging software, AOBRDs and ELDs.

Phase Two: Phased-In Compliance Phase – This phase will last from the end of phase one (December 18, 2017), up until December 16, 2019, a full four years after the ELD mandate was signed into law. During this time, carriers must begin taking compliance measures. Paper logging and logging software will no longer be permitted. Carriers must use either ELDs that are compliant with the mandate or AOBRDs that were installed prior to December 18, 2017.

Phase Three: Full Compliance Phase – The full compliance phase begins after December 16, 2019. After this date, all drivers and carriers operating in the United States will be required to track HOS using only registered and compliant electronic logging devices.

Congratulations! You’re now up to speed on both the history and implementation schedule of the new ELD mandate timeline. Whether you’re a motor carrier or a driver, there’s no better time than now to get your ELD up and running and make sure you’re compliant with the new mandate.