How To Tell If You Must Install ELDs

Jim Luff
Posted on July 2, 2018

Do your drivers know how to work an ELD?

Do your drivers know how to work an ELD?

What Is An ELD?

ELD stands for electronic logging device. It is a Department of Transportation-certified piece of electronic hardware that connects to the vehicle’s engine to record driving hours of the vehicle. It includes a screen for the drivers so they can monitor their hours of service on a given trip. It also has the ability to print logs when requested during a DOT roadside inspection or a vehicle stop by a commercial vehicle enforcement officer. ELD terminals allow drivers to input various functions in a routine day including driving hours and on-duty hours not driving, such as standing by at a sports game and rest time.

What Does The Law Intend?

Many accidents involving commercial drivers result directly from driver fatigue. In passenger transportation, a sleepy driver can spell disaster for his passengers as well as other motorists. Commercial drivers have long been required to adhere to hours-of-service regulations documented in a paper logbook. Paper logs were frequently inaccurate as employers pressured drivers to fudge their reports and drivers paid by the mile obviously want to get as many miles in each day as possible. The ELD mandate requires the replacement of paper logs with electronic recording that cannot be manipulated.

When Did The ELD Mandate Go Into Effect?

The ELD rule became law on Feb. 16, 2016. However, compliance became mandatory on Dec. 18, 2017. For vehicles already equipped with an automatic on-board recording device, the units must be upgraded or replaced to meet the full requirements of the ELD Mandate by Dec. 16, 2019.

ELDs can help you track important driver information (Photo: Wikimedia Commons user FleetBeat)

ELDs can help you track important driver information (Photo: Wikimedia Commons user FleetBeat)

Making Sure Your ELDs Are Compliant

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) maintains a list of ELD products from various manufacturers. However, this list is compiled based on submissions by independent companies that state their devices comply with the regulations. There is no formal list of ELDs evaluated or tested by FMCSA, and certification is not a guarantee of any quality standard. It is possible to purchase an ELD not on the list, but that meets the FMCSA certification requirements. The opposite may also be true where a device makes it on the list but doesn’t comply.

Who Does The ELD Mandate Apply To?

The ELD mandate covers any commercial driver of a specific type of commercial vehicle. Basically, if a driver had to use paper logbooks in the past, the ELD Mandate requires the use of an ELD. 

Specifically, this includes:

  • Interstate commercial motor vehicle drivers required to keep RODS (record of duty status)
  • Vehicles that weigh more than 10,001 pounds.
  • Vehicles with placarded hazmat loads.
  • Vehicles carrying more than eight or 15 passengers (depending on vehicle class).
  • Some vehicle classes and drivers are exempt from the rule:
  1. Drivers who operate within a 100-air-mile radius.
  2. Non-CDL drivers who operate within a 150-air-mile radius.
  3. Vehicles manufactured before model year 2000.


  • Drivers who use paper logs for not more than eight days out of every 30-day period.
  • Drivers who operate short-hauls who are not required to keep a log book.
  • Drivers of vehicles manufactured before 2000.

Other ELD Matters You Need To Know

A driver using an ELD must have an ELD information packet in the vehicle containing the following items:

  • A user’s manual for the driver describing how to operate the ELD.
  • An instruction sheet describing the data transfer mechanisms supported by the ELD.
  • Step-by-step instructions to produce and transfer the driver’s hours-of-service records to an authorized safety official or law enforcement officer.
  • An instruction sheet for the driver describing ELD malfunction reporting requirements and recordkeeping procedures during ELD malfunctions.
  • A supply of blank driver’s records of duty status (RODS) graph-grids sufficient to record the driver’s duty status and other related information for a minimum of eight days.

Great Ideas provides a broad range of information focused on new ideas and approaches in management, human resources, customer service, marketing, networking and technology. Have something to share or would like covered? You can reach LCT contributing editor and California operator Jim Luff at [email protected]

Related Topics: buses, compliance, ELDs, federal regulations, industry regulations, labor laws, motorcoach operators, motorcoaches, vehicle technology

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