Chapter 1: ELD BASICS
The electronic logging device mandate, effective on Dec. 18, requires most carriers and drivers to convert from using paper logs or logging software to a registered ELD if they do not have an automatic on-board recording device in use. And those using AOBRDs prior to the mandate’s effective date will only be able to keep using them for two more years (until Dec. 16, 2019).
It’s a mandate that has led to a lot of questions, with the government continuing to clarify and tweak the regulation even as we went to press. We’ve endeavored to find answers to the most common questions that arise, starting with the basics.
- What is an Electronic Logging Device?
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An ELD is a recording device that records vehicle parameters through its synchronization to the vehicle’s engine. It also allows for entries related to a driver’s record of duty status (RODs) to show compliance with hours of service regulations.
- How is an ELD different from e-logs currently in use?
The e-logs — either in the form of logging software or AOBRDs — that some fleets have been using do not meet the new technical specifications prepared by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that ELD providers must adhere to.
For example, under the 1988 rule enabling AOBRDs, they were not required to be able to present a graph grid of the driver’s daily duty status changes either on a display or on a printout. ELDs, however, must fully provide that capability. (For a table outlining the differences, see www.fmcsa.dot.gov/faq/what-are-differences-specs-1988-aobrd-rule-and-eld-rule )
“From a carrier perspective, they may not see a whole lot of difference depending on the system they’re using,” explains Joe DeLorenzo, director of the FMCSA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance. Some ELD providers may be able to convert their existing AOBRD systems to ELDs with very few visible differences.
“One, it’s a consistent and more standardized specification [for ELDs],” DeLorenzo says. “Right now, all the devices that are AOBRDs are a little bit different. Under the ELD specification, they all may look different, but they all are producing the same output file as required by the specifications.
“Second, there is more information being captured, but again all uniform, like engine hours, that are part of the ELD specifications.
“The third thing is the biggest difference — the ELD specification incorporates what we call edits and annotations, and does it in such as way that if a driver’s record of duty status needs to be corrected or edited, they can do that under certain situations. The ELD specification allows them to put notes in as to why that happened, but also retains the original. It’s good accountability for the driver and the carrier if they have to make an adjustment in the driver’s hours.”