FMCSA's Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Rule Is The Law

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate, which went into effect on December 18, 2017, is one of the biggest changes for the commercial transportation industry in recent years.

We've prepared the information below to help you understand the rule, who it affects, the compliance deadlines, and the penalties for drivers and carriers found to be non-compliant, and provided useful resources to help answer your questions regarding the ELD mandate.

(Please note: The FAQs document published by the FMCSA provides a good amount of details on the ELD mandate. Excerpts of general pertinence are reflected below. For more information, please refer to the list of additional resources at the end of this document.)

Key Requirements

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  • Requires ELD use by commercial drivers who are required to prepare hours-of-service (HOS) records of duty status (RODS).
  • Sets ELD performance and design standards, and requires ELDs to be certified and registered with FMCSA.
  • Establishes what supporting documents drivers and carriers are required to maintain.
  • Prohibits harassment of drivers based on ELD data or connected technology (such as fleet management system). The rule also provides recourse for drivers who believe they have been harassed.

What Are the Compliance Deadlines?

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Carriers must evaluate and select ELDs, and ensure they are installed and drivers and administrative staff are trained to use them by the deadline that applies - December 18, 2017 for those using paper logs or logging software or December 16, 2019 for carriers using automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs). More specifically:

February 16, 2016 (ELD Rule Effective Date) - December 18, 2017

This phase is the two-year period following publication of the ELD rule in the Federal Register. During this time, motor carriers and drivers subject to the rule should prepare to comply and may voluntarily use ELDs. Motor carriers and drivers subject to the rule can use any of the following for RODs:

  • Paper logs
  • Logging software
  • AOBRDs
  • ELDs that are registered and listed on the FMCSA website

December 18, 2017 - December 16, 2019

This phase is the two-year period from the Compliance Date to the Full Compliance Phase. Motor carriers and drivers subject to the rule can use:

  • AOBRDs (installed prior to December 18, 2017)
  • ELDs that are registered and listed on the FMCSA website

December 16, 2019

All motor carriers and drivers subject to the rule must use certified, registered ELDs that comply with requirements of the ELD regulations. Note: Any §395.15-compliant AOBRDs that are installed before December 18, 2017, can be used until December 16, 2019. At that time, the AOBRDs must either be updated to the ELD specifications or removed from service and a new device installed that meets the ELD technical specifications.

Who must comply?

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The ELD rule applies to most motor carriers and drivers who are currently required to maintain RODS per Part 395, 49 CFR 395.8(a). The rule applies to commercial buses as well as trucks, and to Canada- and Mexico-domiciled drivers.

Who is exempt?

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Drivers who operate under the short-haul exceptions may continue using timecards; they are not required to keep RODS and are not required to use ELDs. Additionally, the drivers listed below are not required to use ELDs, but are still bound by the RODS requirements in 49 CFR 395 and must prepare logs on paper, using an AOBRD or with a logging software program when required:

  • Drivers who use paper RODS for not more than 8 days out of every 30-day period.
  • Drivers who conduct drive-away-tow-away operations, where the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered.
  • Drivers of vehicles manufactured before model year 2000.

According to the FMCSA, the ELD exceptions delineated in the ELD rule and the ELD exemptions announced by the agency will not be impacted by the December 16, 2019 deadline. Motor carriers and drivers who operate under these exceptions and exemptions will continue to be able to use alternate methods of recordkeeping after ELD full compliance goes into effect.

What about rented or leased commercial motor vehicles?

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Motor carriers or drivers that operate rented or leased commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) are required to record hours of service with an ELD, unless the driver or commercial motor vehicle is exempt from the requirements of the ELD rule.

What is a "grandfathered" automatic onboard recording device (AOBRD)?

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A "grandfathered" AOBRD is a device that a motor carrier installed and required its drivers to use before the electronic logging device (ELD) rule compliance date of December 18, 2017. The device must meet the requirements of 49 CFR 395.15. A motor carrier may continue to use grandfathered AOBRDs only until December 16, 2019. After that, the AOBRDs must either be updated to the ELD technical specifications or removed from service and a new device installed that meets the ELD specifications. See Section 395.15 (a) of the ELD final rule.

Other AOBRD issues worth noting:

  • If your operation used AOBRDs before December 18, 2017, you can transfer an AOBRD to a CMV as long as that vehicle replaces another (see FMCSA FAQs section).
  • If your operation adds a vehicle to its fleet without retiring one equipped with an AOBRD, you must install a device that meets ELD technical specifications.
  • An owner operator that operates with a grandfathered AORBD and is hired by a motor carrier after December 18, 2017 may continue to operate with its grandfathered AOBRD while employed by the motor carrier.
  • If a grandfathered AOBRD subsequently becomes inoperable, then that AOBRD must be replaced by an ELD.
  • You may not purchase and install a new AOBRD in a vehicle after December 18, 2017.

What Are The Non-Compliance Penalties For Drivers/Motor Carriers?

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Drivers/motor carriers operating a CMV without a required registered ELD or a grandfathered AOBRD are subject to the penalties specified by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) on April 1, 2018.

What Must A Driver And Motor Carrier Do If There Is An ELD Malfunction?

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If an ELD malfunctions, a driver must notify the motor carrier in writing within 24 hours of a device malfunction, and follow specific steps to record their records of duty status. In addition, motor carriers must also take steps to correct, repair, replace, or service the malfunctioning ELD as specified by the FMCSA. PLEASE NOTE: All ELD devices MUST have a visual notification when a malfunction has occurred.

While motor carriers may seek an extension of the period of time permitted for repair, replacement, or service of one or more ELDs per 49 CFR Part 395.34, it should be noted that extensions are not guaranteed. Importantly, the FMCSA has reported that most requests are a result of improper training and these requests are denied.

ELD Vendor Options

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With a vast number of ELD solutions currently in the marketplace, selecting a vendor can be a challenging process. This is complicated by the fact that the FMCSA does not certify which products meet all the technical requirements of the ELD mandate. This is, in reality, a "self-certification" process. The FMCSA also does not have mechanisms in place for manufacturers to test to ensure that the data capture and output of these devices is compliant with specifications. To help carriers with their selection, the FMCSA has posted a list of Registered ELDs and has made available a checklist of functions that an ELD solution must provide at a minimum.

The following ELD vendors have proactively reached out to Lancer, offering to assist our policyholders*:

Motor carriers and drivers should regularly check FMCSA’s posted list of Registered ELDs to ensure that their device is still on the list.

ELD Articles

Useful ELD Resources


For further assistance regarding the ELD mandate, please contact us online at Lancer SafetyLink Hotline or call 800-664-7222.

*Reference in this site to any specific commercial product, process, or service, or the use of any trade, firm or corporation name is for the information and convenience of our policyholders, and does not constitute endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Lancer Insurance Company.