The ELD Mandate is Here: Now What?

The road to compliance may have met a major milestone in December 2019, but what’s next for the ELD mandate in 2020?

Exploring ELD Enforcement in 2020

Is your fleet up to speed with the ELD mandate? 2020 ushered in the first full official year of the FMCSA’s mandate that made it a requirement for commercial drivers to use Electronic Logging Devices. The ELD mandate was created as a way to establish “minimum performance” and “design standards” for fleets required to produce driver records for the DOT (Department of Transportation). You should be as prepared as possible and understand every aspect of what it means for your fleet to be in full compliance with the ELD mandate. 

Working with a fleet management technology provider with ELD-focused tools and software is the best way to ensure that your business won’t suffer the consequences of non-compliance. 

What is the ELD Mandate?

The Federal Motor Carrier Association (FMCSA) initially published the Electronic Logging Devices mandate in December of 2015, requiring drivers to keep an electronic log of their time behind the wheel. This requirement for the driver’s Hours of Service log officially went into effect in February of 2016, but did not become mandatory for the industry until December of 2019. If your fleet hasn’t made the transition, understand that compliance is crucial to the future of your business. 

The ELD mandate applies to commercial motor vehicle operators and drivers. Electronic Logging Devices produce the Records of Duty Status (RODS) that are required of commercial operators and drivers. It is a record-keeping device that is automated, reliable and verifiable. However, ELD’s should not be confused with AOBRD’s (Automatic On-Board Recording Devices), which are automated and verifiable, but many do not meet the mandate’s requirements. If you are still currently using an AOBRD, it is suggested that you check for its compliance or upgrade to an ELD compliant device, as the deadline has passed.

According to Fleet Owner, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) began officially issuing penalties for non-compliance back in April of 2018. ELD non-compliance can lead to several issues, from fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 to being issued violations that puts drivers out of service. Don’t let your drivers get caught roadside in non-compliance. 

Am I ELD Compliant?

The FMCSA is very specific about their requirements for Electronic Logging Devices. In addition to the proper ELD device, your fleet should also have access to the following at all times:

  • The operational manual. 
  • Instructions for the type of data transfer tools used for your device. 
  • Instructions for what to do in the event of an ELD malfunction.  
  • A back-up supply of paper for printing RODS graphs for at least eight days. 

Here’s what’s also required of your ELD device by the FMCSA:

  • It must use telematics technology or local transfer of data. You can use either or both of these two options when transmitting data via ELD software. Telematics technology allows for electronic transmission of data to an authorized safety official by web-based services or e-mail. The local transfer option allows for the transmission of ELD data via USB 2.0 or Bluetooth technology. In the case of an ELD compliance safety investigation, the data must be viewable by authorized safety officials via printout or a digital display.
  • It must make automated entries. ELD compliant devices must begin tracking and recording driver activity automatically. The dated Automatic On-Board Recording Devices must be manually set to record data at a certain speed, while ELD compliant devices start recording data and engine diagnostics when the engine is turned on. Automated entries allow for continuous recording of driver behavior and engine diagnostics data, which is very useful in successfully managing your fleet.
  • It must have a duty status graph. The duty status graph is a visual display of a driver’s activities. Your ELD device must be able to populate this data in graph form on demand. It must include detailed information regarding the driver’s activity. It should generally provide data that shows when the driver is on or off duty, driving or not and their location. 
  • It must have the ability to make annotations and edits. An annotation to an ELD record means that you’re including a related note. An edit to an ELD record means that you’re including additional data, but not overwriting already stored data. Any edits made to ELD data must be annotated to provide an explanation about the reason for the change. Annotations and edits to ELD data must only be done in order to correct mistakes or to include missing information. 
  • It must have engine diagnostic data detection capabilities. ELD Devices used by commercial motor carriers must be able to detect vehicle engine diagnostics. Your electronic logging device should be able to automatically detect malfunctions, positioning, power-related data misinformation, data synchronization, etc. This ensures that data is being captured based on the driver’s activity as well as the commercial vehicle’s engine and its performance. 

Who has to comply?

The FMCSA has mandated that all drivers who operate Commercial Motor Vehicles (CMVs) are required to provide Records of Duty Status (RODS) via Electronic Logging Devices. The Department of Transportation (DOT) defines a Commercial Motor Vehicle as being a vessel that:

  • Weighs 10,001 pounds or more.
  • Rates at a gross vehicle weight or combination weight rating of 10,001 pounds or more.
  • Transports 16 or more passenger, including the driver (not for compensation)
  • Transports nine or more passengers, including the driver (for compensation)
  • Transports hazardous materials that requires placards

Who’s still exempt?

Though most CMV carriers do fall under the ELD mandate, there are some fleet managers who won’t have to worry about compliance at this time. Whether you are exempt or otherwise, you and your drivers are required to produce documentation of motor carrier records upon request from an authorized safety official. Currently, these are the following exemptions as provided by the FMCSA:

  • If your drivers use paper logs less than eight days out of a 30-day period.
  • Drivers who work as tow-away, drive-away or vehicle trailer operators, mobile home and recreational vehicle transporters (one set of the vehicle’s wheels must be visible during transport).
  • Drivers using commercial vehicles that were manufactured pre-2000.

What’s new for 2020?

In 2020, the focus for the FMCSA’s ELD mandate operations seems to be on enforcement and full compliance. The transition has been gradual, as it’s been five years since ELD’s have been required of CMV carriers in providing RODS. The best plan of action for forward-thinking fleet managers is to work with a reliable ELD technology brand with high-powered devices built for endurance as well as compliance.

Consequences of Non-Compliance

Non-compliance with the ELD mandate is not an option if you are a CMV carrier already required to provide authorized safety officials with RODS. With the December 2019 deadline for compliance having passed, enforcement of ELD requirements have become top priority for the Department of Transportation and all related agencies. The CVSA has been instrumental in the process of creating enforcement protocols to coincide with the ELD mandate. The CVSA estimates that around four million inspections of CMV’s occur annually, and one of the purposes of each of them is to ensure ELD compliance. 

When a CMV is inspected, a violation of the ELD mandate can seriously affect the carrier’s CSA score. They have also enumerated 22 different violations that can cause your driver to suffer the consequences of non-compliance. Here is a list of other penalties your fleet could face as a result of not complying with ELD standards:

  • Drivers without compliant ELD devices can be placed out-of-service for a minimum of 10 hours.
  • Receive fines ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.
  • Increased chance for roadside inspections.

I’m not in Compliance — What Should I Do?

ELD in 2020 is all about enforcement, so it’s important for you to move quickly toward compliance. Finding an industry leader, with the tools you need and service you can depend on, should be your first move. Reliable customer service and training should be a top priority with any telematics company you choose. The learning curve for handling the equipment and software can be a little steep, which is why you should seek out a brand that understands all aspects of the ELD mandate. 

GPS Trackit provides unlimited training and consistent customer service to help you become well acclimated to using your ELD equipment. Our DOT portal enables authorized safety officials to view RODS via e-mail for the previous 24 hours as well as the last consecutive 7-day period. We also include a DOT inspection portal integrated with the software that makes the roadside inspection process easy.

If you’re already using telematics equipment, but you’re unsure if the devices are ELD compliant, it might be time to seek a better solution. Try using our free online ELD Assessment Tool or speak to one of our expert Fleet Advisors today.