What Does the ELD Mandate Mean for the Trucking Industry?


The electronic logging device mandate means nearly everyone must ditch the paper logs and rely on logging devices in 2020. These devices must track their hours of service (HOS) and verify that they’re complying with various labor regulations. And fleets need to be in compliance if you want to avoid various sanctions. But what does the ELD mandate mean for the trucking industry? And what does the average shipping operation have to do to remain compliant?

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The Scope of the Change

There are around 3.5 million professional drivers in the United States. The American Trucking Association says that the ELD mandate impacts more than three million of them. There are few exceptions, such as when you drive a commercial truck older than model year 2000, just drive trucks from the dealer to customers, or only drive locally.

Furthermore, someone who drives vehicles that don’t require a CDL and don’t travel more than 150 miles (measured by air radius) don’t have to install an ELD. However, this means the ELD mandate impacts literally millions of people across the country.

The cost of the mandate led to opposition, but that has not prevented it from being implemented. Supporters point to the estimated 1.6-billion-dollar savings on time otherwise spent on paperwork, while there may be additional savings down the line on reduced fuel usage, improved driver safety, and reduced truck downtime. The only question for many drivers is what type of data collection system they will install and operate.

The Debate Between AORBD and ELD

Most fleets had to ditch paper logs by 2017 and switch to a digital logging device. They either need an AOBRD or an ELD. An AOBRD or automatic onboard recording device is often cheaper, but your drivers might have to manually record their CMV location at each change of duty status. ELDs do this automatically.

ELDs must interface with the engine control module, while AOBRDs theoretically should not have well-defined requirements in the FMCSA rules. ELDs provide far more detailed reporting of the driver’s day. In the aobrd vs eld debate, know that neither has to provide HOS advisory or warning messages, though an ELD must warn when someone is taking on unassigned driving time.

ELDs must either relay telematics data via wireless web services, USB and Bluetooth or both. This makes it much easier to provide logs when demanded by safety officials. The average AOBRD will let you print out a report but it might let you pull up logs and share them. In short, ELDs are more intelligent and have far more functionality out of the box.

The Massive Amount of Data Collected

ELDs track information on when people drive and how they drive. You should look for ELD solutions that automatically feed data to your fleet management software. Then your mechanic will get warnings when a truck’s engine is overheating or taking longer than expected to brake.

Managers will know when someone is driving too aggressively or might be tampering with their logs. ELD systems can track special driving categories, driver certifications and office support staff edits, though truck drivers have to approve edits. This results in a massive amount of data being collected regarding who is driving, what they’re carrying, where they went and how they drive.

Yet trucking companies have many ways they can use that data to improve performance of the fleet and individual drivers. The best ELD solutions allow you to generate a wide variety of reports, whether it is for internal use or reporting required by regulators.

The ELD mandate is one of the farthest-reaching regulations we’ve seen hitting the trucking industry in years. It brings with it costs and a steep learning curve, but the potential benefits from improved driver safety to cost savings are why it was implemented.


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