Electronic Logging Devices – Mandate begins December 18, 2017


Attempts to Delay Mandate are Failing

By Joe Rajkovacz, Western States Trucking Association Director of Governmental Affairs

A federally imposed $2 billion mandate to switch from paper logs to electronic logging devices (ELDs) to monitor driver hours-of-service compliance begins in December. One of the most frequently asked questions I get is, “does this mandate apply to me?” Many vendors of ELDs have sales staff not sufficiently versed in the regulation and thus they tell everyone “they must comply.”

Simply, the mandate only applies to motor carriers and drivers who are currently required to maintain records of duty status (RODS) under federal hours-of-service regulations. The rule applies to commercial buses as well as trucks. Federal HOS rules apply to all operators of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) defined as greater than 10,001 pounds unless they are covered by some type of exemption such as the agricultural exemptions.

Concrete pump drivers who operate only within a state under a state’s unique HOS regulations are only required to utilize an ELD if that state has adopted the federal requirement to apply to “intrastate” trucking operations. Texas adopted an intrastate mandate to begin in December of 2019. California is “talking” about a compliance date of January 1, 2021! If you operate exclusively within either of these two states’ borders under state HOS rules, no mandate applies for now and you can continue to use paper logs. Some states have adopted, by reference, the federal requirement to apply to their “intrastate” markets. You should check with your state police or highway patrol’s motor carrier unit to determine if an adoption has occurred.   

Federal Exemptions

If your operators are required to use federal HOS regulations because they are crossing a state line, there are a number of exemptions that can be used to avoid the ELD mandate:

  • Drivers who use paper RODS for not more than eight days out of every 30-day period
  • Drivers of vehicles manufactured before 2000 / drivers of vehicles equipped with an engine manufactured before 2000
  • Drivers who conduct drive-away-tow-away operations, where the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered, or the vehicle being transported is a motor home or a recreation vehicle trailer with one or more sets of wheels on the surface of the roadway
  • Drivers operating under the short-haul exception (100 air-mile radius / 12-hour day)

The first exemption (eight days out of every 30) has been the most discussed exemption in terms of how it can be used absent any federal regulatory guidance. Another frequently asked question is, “can I still travel to another city/jurisdiction to reestablish my “home terminal” in order to use the short-haul exception without needing an ELD?”  This question is mostly related to construction trucking-related activities where you are repositioning for a job.

8/30 Exemption and Changing “Home Terminal”

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) explained in its final rule the intention behind the 8/30 exemption, “…was intended to provide relief for drivers who only intermittently needed to use RODS.  For example, drivers in short-haul operations who usually use time cards or occasional CMV drivers.” Much of FMCSA’s discussion on this exemption is directly related to drivers mostly using the short-haul exception in HOS regulations (instead of paper RODS, a time card or time sheet is allowed).

Here is an example of how this exemption could be utilized:

An operator mostly working within 100 air-miles of his Chicago home terminal is offered the opportunity to work for two months on a project 350 miles away in central Iowa. Since he uses a time sheet/time card every day to record his HOS, he can use this exemption to drive the CMV to the new work-reporting location in Iowa without installing an ELD for the trip. Remember: A driver is allowed to designate a new home terminal in order to revert to using the short-haul exception. In instances such as this, the new home terminal is generally the hotel used by the operator near the job site (see: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/regulations/title49/section/395.1  Question #15 for DOT interpretation).

Undoubtedly, operators who use this exemption will encounter uneven enforcement at roadside. This is because officers are generally trained to ask for the current day’s RODS plus the previous seven days of RODS. However, short-haul drivers won’t have seven previous days; they’ll have time cards or time sheets.

I would urge those utilizing this exemption to have their operator carry evidence of their use of time sheets/time cards in order to support the use of this exemption.

Choosing an Electronic Logging Device – Buyer Beware

Selecting an ELD for your particular operation should be done with care. If you don’t choose correctly, you could find yourself needing to replace a system you “thought” was ELD-compliant but wasn’t.

FMCSA maintains a “Registry” of “self-certified” ELD vendors. Whatever solution you choose, the manufacturer needs to be on this list (see: https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/ELD/List). Keep in mind, FMCSA does not endorse any product nor do they “certify” any product. The Feds are very clear about this on their website warning: “The listed devices are self-certified by the manufacturer. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration does not endorse any electronic logging devices.”

Roadside law enforcement can verify if the ELD in your vehicle is listed on the Registry.  If it’s not, you can be ticketed for non-compliance. We are aware of a number of larger companies that had to completely reinvest in new ELDs after having been “scammed.”

Upfront fees for an ELD run anywhere from close to zero (if you are using the “bring your own device” or “BYOD” solution) to nearly a $1,000.00 (high-end fleet management system). There are monthly connectivity fees that typically range between $20-$40.

It’s tough to recommend a particular manufacturer for an ELD because there are many “add-on” features that quickly move a device into the category of a fleet management system. However, the providers I do direct our members towards are: KeepTruckin and Continental VDO RoadLog. They each target a different type of customer; one can be used on smartphones and the other is a fixed device in the vehicle. Both are leaders in the industry.  Continental has been serving the European market for decades, and costs are minimal compared to some other providers.


Joe can be reached at joe[at]westrk[dot]org for more information or questions regarding this regulation.