Audit, Compliance and Risk Blog

Now in Effect: Electronic Logging Device Rules for U.S. Motor Carriers

Posted by STP Editorial Team on Tue, Feb 16, 2016

Trucks.jpgEffective February 16, 2016, the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has revised the requirements for logging of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers’ hours of service or “HOS.” A motor carrier operating CMVs must install and require each of its drivers to use an electronic logging device (ELD) to record the driver’s duty status no later than December 18, 2017.

Until December 18, 2017, a motor carrier must ensure that its CMV drivers use one of the following methods to record their record of duty status (RODS):

  • A compliant ELD

  • A compliant automatic on-board recording device (AOBRD)

  • Manual recording on a specified grid.

A motor carrier that installs and requires a driver to use a compliant AOBRD before December 18, 2017, may continue to use the recording device until December 16, 2019.

Motor carriers are required to retain certain supporting documents to substantiate drivers’ hours of service. In addition, motor carriers are prohibited from using any collected information to harass a driver in a manner that may cause the driver to violate rules related to hours of service or illness and fatigue.

Essentially, the new federal regulations require drivers to transition to using ELDs in place of paper logbooks or even AOBRDs to record their hours of service. The expectation is that the use of ELDs will improve compliance with the hours of service rules, which in turn will reduce driver fatigue and accidents.

Basic Specifications for ELDs

Motor carriers and their drivers must use only those ELDs that are included on FMCSA’s list of registered ELDs . Manufacturers can begin registering their ELDs with FMCSA on February 16, 2016, and must certify that their devices are compliant with the technical specifications.An ELD must be able to automatically record the following basic data elements:

  • Date

  • Time

  • CMV geographic location information

  • Engine hours

  • Vehicle miles

  • Driver or authenticated user identification data

  • Vehicle identification data

  • Motor carrier identification data.

In addition, an ELD must be able to record events and data as follows:

  • Change of duty status—recorded when indicated by a driver; includes the basic data elements listed above.

  • Intermediate recording—made every hour while a CMV is in motion; includes the basic data elements listed above (except during authorized personal use, when engine hours and vehicle miles are left blank, and geographic location is recorded with a single decimal point to approximate the location in a 10-mile radius).

  • Change in special driving category—recorded when indicated by a driver; includes the basic data elements listed above.

  • Certification of the driver's daily record—recorded when the driver certifies his or her records for each 24-hour period; includes the date, time, and driver identification data elements.

  • Log in/log out—recorded when an authorized user logs into or out of an ELD; includes the basic data elements listed above, except CMV geographic location information.

  • Engine power up/shut down—recorded when a CMV’s engine is powered up or powered down; includes the basic data elements listed above.

  • Authorized personal use—the geographic location information data element is recorded with a single decimal point to approximate the location in a 10-mile radius of the CMV, for any record created during a period when the driver has indicated authorized personal use of a CMV.

  • Malfunction and data diagnostic event—recorded when an ELD detects or clears a malfunction or data diagnostic event; includes the basic data elements listed above, except CMV geographic location information.

An ELD can be provided either as a stand-alone device or be integrated in another electronic module. It can be installed in a CMV, or may include a mobile device that can be moved from one CMV to another, so long as all technical and functional specifications are met. The manufacturer must certify and register all of the components of the system together as an ELD device.The ELD system must be designed so that the ELD is integrally synchronized with the CMV engine to allow automatic recording of driving time, and it must allow for manual inputs from the driver and authorized motor carrier personnel. Finally, the ELD must be able to store the recorded data and generate a standard data file output that can be transferred when requested to an authorized safety official.

New Anti-Harassment Provisions

The ELD requirements include a new rule prohibiting motor carriers from using ELDs or data collected by ELDs to harass a driver. Harassment could, for example, take the form of asking drivers to record their on-duty not-driving time as off-duty, or insisting that they drive for the maximum amount of time legally permitted despite being too tired. The new rule defines “harassment” as:

“[…]an action by a motor carrier toward a driver employed by the motor carrier involving the use of information available to the motor carrier through an electronic logging device (ELD) or through other technology used in combination with and not separable from the ELD, that the motor carrier knew or should have known would result in the driver violating 49 CFR 392.3 (impairment of driver due to illness or fatigue) or 49 CFR Part 395 (hours of service).”

As a safeguard against abuses and errors, drivers must be able to access their own records without going through the motor carrier if the records are stored on or are automatically retrievable through the driver’s ELD. If the records are not available to the driver directly through the ELD, the motor carrier must provide the driver with access to and copies of his or her own ELD records upon request. A process for error corrections must be in place.

New Supporting Document Requirements

The new ELD rules also require motor carriers to keep certain supporting documents to substantiate drivers’ ELD records of hours of service—although this requirement does not take effect until December 18, 2017. For their part, drivers must submit such supporting documents to their employer.The following types of supporting document generated or received in the normal course of business must be retained to verify on-duty not driving time:

  • Bills of lading, itineraries, schedules, or equivalent documents that indicate the origin and destination of each trip

  • Dispatch records, trip records, or equivalent documents

  • Expense receipts related to any on-duty not driving time

  • Electronic mobile communication records, reflecting communications transmitted through a fleet management system

  • Payroll records, settlement sheets, or equivalent documents that indicates payment to a driver.

The supporting documents must include the following data elements, either on the document or on another document that allows the carrier to link the document to the driver:

  • The driver’s name or personal identification number (PIN), or a unit (vehicle) number if the unit number can be associated with the driver operating the unit

  • The date, which must be the date at the location where the date is recorded

  • The location, which must include the name of the nearest city, town, or village to enable federal, state, or local enforcement personnel to quickly determine a vehicle’s location on a standard map or road atlas

  • The time, which must be convertible to the local time at the location where it is recorded.

A motor carrier need not retain more than 8 supporting documents for an individual driver’s 24-hour period.

The supporting documents must be retained in such a manner that they can be readily matched to the corresponding driver’s record of duty status. Neither the motor carrier nor the driver may obscure, deface, destroy, mutilate, or alter existing information contained in a supporting document.

Canadian Requirements Coming Soon

Canada will be enacting similar federal regulations, expected to be in effect by the end of 2017. Canadian requirements will substantially align with the new U.S. ELD rules, as more fully described in a CBC News (Canadian Press) article posted on February 15, 2016.

Making the Transition

The compliance deadlines allow almost 2 years for motor carriers to make the transition to using ELDs—or almost 4 years if they are already using AOBRDs. Some manufacturers and suppliers are ready to provide compliant ELDs immediately—that is, as soon as they can complete the formal registration process.

With the considerable flexibility permitted for ELD system design, including the use of hand-held devices as part of the system, motor carriers should be able to find a reasonably cost-effective solution over the course of the transition period. In fact, FMCSA’s analysis suggests that the total cost of adopting ELDs will be more than offset by savings due to reduced paperwork—and reduced crash rates.

The full text of the final rule was published in the Federal Register on December 16, 2015; see 80 FR 78291, and FMCSA has developed a helpful FAQ webpage.

STP has recently published an update to its U.S. federal regulatory audit guide DOT Hazardous Materials Transportation & Motor Carrier Safety, to incorporate the specific requirements of the new ELD rules.STP also publishes the following related guides:

Like What You've Read? Subscribe to Our Blog Now


photo credit: Competition challenge: Fuel economy driving via photopin (license)

Tags: Employer Best Practices, Health & Safety, Greenhouse Gas, ghg, Hazcom, Transportation