Compliance, ELD, Transportation


The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate was implemented and became enforceable on December 18, 2017.  April 1, 2018 marked the effective date for Out of Service (OOS) criteria relating to the ELD mandate.  In mid June 2018, final guidance was issued for the Agriculture Exceptions and Exemptions and December 16, 2019 – marks the date that those using Automatic On-board Recording Devices (AOBRDs) prior to the mandate’s effective date will have to make the switch to ELDs.

All of these dates and acronyms lead to a lot of questions.  Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) concerning ELDs.

1. What is an Electronic Logging Device?

An ELD is technology that automatically records driver’s driving time.  This allows easier, more accurate hours-of-service record keeping. An ELD monitors a vehicle’s engine to capture data on whether the engine is running, whether the vehicle is moving, miles driven, and duration of engine operation (engine hours).

2.  What is an AOBRD and how is it different from an ELD?

An AOBRD may look and act very similar to an ELD.  An ELD must meet new technical specifications outlined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).  You can visit the FMCSA website to see a tabled comparison of all technical specifications in the AOBRD rule (49 CFR 395.15) and the ELD rule.

The basic differences are:

  • An ELD is more consistent and has standardized specifications.
  • An ELD captures more information than an AOBRD – engine hours for example
  • An ELD allows for driver notes, edits, and annotations
  • An ELD allows for the transfer of information to officers during compliance reviews and roadside inspections

3.  Can you use a smart phone or other wireless device as an ELD?

The short answer is yes and no.  The device must meet the guidelines set forth in the ELD mandate, which includes being able to access data from the vehicle’s engine.  It must also be mounted in a fixed position during operation and visible to the driver from a normal seated position.

Mounts 2

Amazon has a variety of mounts that fit an array of devices.  To view a listing of mounts visit:

A smart phone alone does not meet the ELD requirements.  Only devices that have been certified and listed on the FMCSA website will be considered compliant.  You may find that list here

There are many options that allow you to use your smart phone or other wireless device in conjunction with an ELD.  Keep Truckin is one of the industry leaders.  Their free downloadable app is easy to use and their plug and go ELD is easy to install.  For more information visit

Keep Truckin ELD

4.  Who must comply with the ELD mandate?

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

The ELD rule allows limited exceptions to the ELD mandate, including:

  • Drivers who operate under the short-haul exceptions may continue using time cards; they are not required to keep RODS and will not be required to use ELDs.
  • 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, in which the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered.
  • Drivers of vehicles manufactured before 2000

5. Am I exempt under the 100 air-mile radius?

If you didn’t have to have paper logs before the mandate, generally you won’t be required to use ELDs.

Drivers must meet ALL of the following:

  • The driver must operate within a 100-air-mile radius of his/her normal work reporting location.
  • The driver must start and end the day at the same location.
  • The driver must be released from work within 12 consecutive hours.
  • The driver must have at least 10 consecutive hours off-duty between each 12-hour shift.
  • The driver must not drive more than 11 hours.

If the driver has a special assignment that breaks one or more of these rules, that’s OK; the driver just must fill out a paper logbook for that day – as long as it doesn’t happen more than eight times in a rolling 30-day period. If that happens, the driver is required to install and use an ELD from that point forward.

6.  Am I exempt under the 150 air-mile radius – non CDL short-haul?

If you didn’t have to have paper logs before the mandate, generally you won’t be required to use ELDs.

Drivers must meet ALL of the following:

  • Drive a truck that is a “commercial motor vehicle” but does not require a CDL, and
  • The driver must operate within a 150 air-mile radius of their normal work reporting location and return there each day.
  • The driver must not drive more than 11 hours.
  • The driver must have 10 consecutive hours off duty. between each shift.
  • The driver must not drive past the 14th hour after coming on duty 5 days in any period of 7 consecutive days
  • The driver must not drive past the 16th hour after coming on duty 2 days in any period of 7 consecutive days.
  • The driver must not drive after being on duty 60 hours in any 7 consecutive days or 70 hours in any 8 consecutive days

If the driver has a special assignment that breaks one or more of these rules, that’s OK; the driver just must fill out a paper logbook for that day – as long as it doesn’t happen more than eight times in a rolling 30-day period. If that happens, the driver is required to install and use an ELD from that point forward.

7.  What is the Agriculture Exemptions

49 CFR 395.1(k) provides exceptions from the HOS rules, during planting and harvesting periods as determined by the State, for the transportation of agricultural commodities (including livestock, bees and other commodities) within a 150-air mile radius from the source of the commodities. The same provision applies to the delivery of supplies and equipment for agricultural use from a wholesale or retail distribution point.

HOS rules do not apply to operations within the 150-air mile radius from the source of the commodities or the wholesale/retail distribution point.  Therefore, work or driving hours are not limited and the driver is not required to use an ELD.

Once the driver operates beyond that 150-air mile radius, the HOS regulations apply.  Therefore, starting at the time and location where the driver goes past the 150-air mile radius, the driver must maintain logs using an ELD, unless the driver or the vehicle meets one of the ELD exemptions listed in question 4 above.  The driver must work and drive within the limitations of the HOS rules when operating beyond the 150-air mile radius.  The time spent within the 150-air mile radius does not count towards the driver’s daily and weekly limits.

Covered farm vehicles, as defined by 49 CFR 390.5 are exempted from the HOS regulations and are not required to have an ELD.

8.  What if I am only required to use paper logs occasionally?

If you’re only required to prepare paper logs fewer than 8 days out of every 30, you’re not required to have an ELD.

The 30-day period is not restricted to a single month, but applies to any 30-day period.  For example, June 15 to July 15 is considered a 30-day period.

9.  I don’t need to do anything for two years if I’m already running AOBRDs, right?

A carrier or driver that is using compliant AOBRDs that were installed and in service before Dec. 18, 2017, must convert to a compliant ELD by Dec. 16, 2019. If an AOBRD needs to be replaced after Dec. 18, 2017, the device must be replaced by an ELD.

Also, drivers and carriers must comply with the new “supporting document” rules (49 CFR 395.11) starting December 18, 2017, whether using AOBRDs, ELDs, or paper logs.

You have a grace period until Dec. 16, 2019, to replace your AOBRDs with ELDs. After that date, the trucks installed with AOBRDs but without ELDs will be fined and put out of service.

10.  If I’m grandfathered, what happens if I buy new trucks during the grandfather period? Can I just buy extra AOBRDs now?

No, you won’t be able to stockpile AOBRDs. Only AOBRDs that were installed and in use by Dec. 18, 2017, may be used until Dec. 16, 2019.

The only exception to this is that an AOBRD that was in use before Dec. 18, 2017, may be removed from a truck that’s being replaced and moved to the replacement truck.

11.  What if some drivers are subject to the ELD rule and some aren’t?

In a mixed fleet, it is possible that some drivers may have a compliant but confusing blend of exempt time, time records, paper logs, and electronic records. To simplify, a carrier that has a mixed fleet may decide to exceed the requirements and use ELDs for all drivers in all vehicles.

12.  “Driveaway/towaway” operations are exempt. What exactly does that mean?

FMCSA’s definition of a “driveaway-towaway operation,” which is found in 49 CFR 390.5: An operation in which an empty or unladen motor vehicle with one or more sets of wheels on the surface of the roadway is being transported:

  • Between vehicle manufacturers’ facilities;
  • Between a vehicle manufacturer and a dealership or purchaser;
  • Between a dealership, or other entity selling or leasing the vehicle, and a purchaser or lessee;
  • To a motor carrier’s terminal or repair facility for the repair of disabling damage following a crash; or
  • To a motor carrier’s terminal or repair facility for repairs associated with the failure of a vehicle component or system; or
  • By means of a saddle-mount or tow-bar.

13.  Are my older trucks exempt? How is the age determined? What about glider kits?

Yes, trucks with pre-2000 engines are exempt. This exemption was put into the rule because older engines with fewer electronics may make it more expensive or difficult to install an ELD.

FMCSA recently clarified that exemption to reflect that it refers to the engine model year, not the model year in the VIN number. So, for instance, if you’re using a 2018 Freightliner glider kit with a 1998 Detroit Diesel engine, you don’t have to have an ELD.

14.  What if I have a mix of older and newer trucks but want to run ELDs on all of them?

If you want to voluntarily use ELDs in trucks with older engines, you may be able to. Check with your ELD provider to make sure it can provide the proper cables and adapters.

Keep Truckin has a variety of cables that fits most trucks.  You can contact them and provide your vehicle’s VIN to determine which cable will fit your vehicle.


15.  What if I only run intrastate?

If you operate in intrastate commerce, you will need to check with your local authorities. Some states adopt federal regulations, while others rewrite the rules with changes. Changes can include different definitions of what a CMV is or HOS limits.

Ask your provider how its device works with your state rules.

16.  How does the ELD mandate affect technicians?

Unassigned mileage or unassigned vehicle moves is a key difference with ELDs. If a technician needs to take the truck out for a road test or someone needs to move the truck around the yard, say to take it to the fuel dock, that driving time will be recorded in the ELD and needs to be assigned to a driver. If it isn’t, the next time a regular driver logs in to the ELD, they will be asked if those are their hours. If those hours are rejected, the carrier has to reconcile them.

Carriers can define categories of exempt drivers, which allows those technicians or other people moving the truck around the yard to log in as an exempt driver. That way the driver and the back office won’t be burdened with reconciling those hours. And make sure you’re reviewing and reconciling those; otherwise it could show up in a DOT audit.

Unless the mechanic will be driving beyond a 100 air-mile radius, he/she may take advantage of the federal 100 air-mile radius exception, which exempts the drivers from needing to use a RODS. And when an outside mechanic moves the truck, that mileage would go to the ‘unassigned mileage’ report.  The back office would then simply annotate/document the reason for the unassigned miles (i.e. third party mechanic use).

17.  If I’m driving a truck more than 10,000 pounds, do I need to use ELDs?

Most tend to forget the federal definition of CMVs can include pickup trucks or large passenger vans. If the vehicle’s total gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR), gross combination weight rating (GCWR), is 10,001 pounds or more, and is used in interstate commerce, then the driver would be required to use a compliant ELD – unless one of the exemptions apply.

18. What do I need to know about the harassment provision of the ELD rule?

FMCSA defines harassment as an action by a motor carrier toward one of its drivers that the motor carrier knew, or should have known, would result in the driver violating HOS rules in 49 CFR 395 or 49 CFR 392.3. These rules prohibit carriers from requiring drivers to drive when their ability or alertness is impaired due to fatigue, illness, or other causes that compromise safety. To be considered harassment, the action must involve information available to the motor carrier through an ELD or other technology used in combination with an ELD. FMCSA explicitly prohibits a motor carrier from harassing a driver.

The ELD rule has provisions to prevent the use of ELDs to harass drivers. FMCSA explicitly prohibits a motor carrier from harassing a driver, and provides that a driver may file a written complaint under 49 CFR 386.12(b) if the driver was subject to harassment. Technical provisions that address harassment include a mute function to ensure that a driver is not interrupted in the sleeper berth. Furthermore, the design of the ELD allows only limited edits of an ELD record by both the driver and the motor carrier’s agents, and in either case, the original ELD record cannot be changed. As a result, motor carriers will be limited in forcing drivers to violate the HOS rules without leaving an electronic trail that would point to the original and revised records. The driver certification is also intended, in part, to protect drivers from unilateral changes — a factor that drivers identified as contributing to harassment.

Drivers own responsibility for their own HOS logs and have the final say on any proposed edits.

19. Who can edit an ELD record?

Both the driver and authorized carrier staff can make limited edits to an ELD record to correct mistakes or add missing information. All edits must include an annotation to explain the reason for the edit. In addition, the driver must certify that any carrier edit is accurate, and resubmit the records. If the driver chooses not to re-certify RODs, this is also reflected in the ELD record. The ELD must keep the original, unedited record, along with the edits.

Although the ELD reflects the driver’s RODS, the driver and carrier share responsibility for the integrity of the records. The driver certification is intended, in part, to protect drivers from unilateral changes. However, if the driver is unavailable or unwilling to re-certify the record, the carrier’s proposed edit and annotation would remain part of the record.

20.  How do you handle personal conveyance with ELDs? What about yard moves?

The rules about personal conveyance — drivers’ off-duty use of the truck as a personal vehicle — haven’t changed, but with ELDs, those miles will be recorded automatically, so the rules created an optional driving category for “authorized personal use,” which is to be electronically recorded as off-duty time.

For instance, if a carrier allows a driver to drive the truck home from the terminal for the weekend once he’s off duty, the driver can choose “personal conveyance” instead of the regular driving category.

The ELD mandate rules created a special driving category called yard moves.

If used, the yard moves are electronically recorded as on-duty, not driving time.

FMCSA did not provide a definition of a “yard.”

Trucking companies have the opportunity to define a “yard” for their own operations, and they should also consider providing instructions and training to their drivers on whether, where and when they may select and use the yard moves driving category.

A yard could be limited by a trucking company to its own terminals or company facilities, or, a yard could be expanded beyond that to include a customer’s yard, a receiver’s facility, a maritime terminal, a rail ramp, a drop yard; or any other similar location or facility.

The most important thing is for the driver to remember to select and deselect personal conveyance and yard moves when respectively appropriate.


21. What do I do when I need to put a driver in a short-term rental truck?

The FMCSA granted a limited exemption that provides that all drivers of property-carrying commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) rented for 8 days or less, regardless of reason, are not required to use an ELD in the vehicle. While operating under this exemption, drivers will remain subject to the standard HOS limits, maintain a paper record of duty status (RODS) if required, and maintain a copy of the rental agreement on the vehicle.

22. What do drivers do who work for more than one company?

The motor carrier and the driver are responsible for ensuring that all of the RODS information required by the HOS rules is available for review by authorized safety officials at the roadside. If the driver uses multiple ELDs that are not compatible (e.g., the data file from one system cannot be uploaded into the other system), the driver must either manually enter the missing duty status information or provide a printout from the other system(s) so that an accurate accounting of the duty status for the current and previous seven days is available for the authorized safety official.

23.  What are the penalties for non-compliance?

Starting April 1, 2018, property-carrying commercial motor vehicle (CMV) drivers operating their vehicle without a required ELD or a grandfathered AOBRD will be placed out of service for 10 hours; passenger-carrying CMV drivers will be placed out of service for 8 hours.

Violations will be recorded on a roadside inspection report and the driver may be cited (e.g., issued a violation ticket or a civil penalty) for failing to have a required electronic record of duty status.

After 8 or 10 hours out of service, the driver may continue to their final destination, provided the driver has accurately documented their hours-of-service requirements using a paper record of duty status (e.g., log book, daily log or log) and has a copy of the inspection report and/or citation.

If the driver is stopped again before reaching his/her final destination, the driver must provide the safety official with a copy of the inspection report and evidence (e.g., bill of lading) proving that he/she is still on the continuation of the original trip.

After reaching their final destination, if the driver is re-dispatched again without obtaining a compliant ELD, they will again be subject to the out-of-service process outlined above, unless the driver is traveling back to the principle place of business or terminal empty to obtain an ELD.

All ELD violations will be counted against a motor carrier’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) score, which will drive selection for investigation within the FMCSA Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program. FMCSA will determine appropriate action against non-compliant motor carriers.

24. Do ELDs automatically report hours-of-service violations to law enforcement and government agencies?

No. While law enforcement will be able to quickly view a driver’s logs on an ELD to determine if there is an HOS violation, nothing is transmitted to police unless there is a reason to do so. Reasons include roadside inspections, traffic infractions, or a FMCSA audit.

They do not automatically transmit hours-of-service data to inspectors or law enforcement agencies, and they do not automatically trigger violations. In fact, a great benefit to having an ELD is that inspections go much quicker. Truck drivers are able to get on the road more quickly because roadside enforcement can verify compliance with a glance.

25. What can drivers expect during roadside inspections?

It appears that the type of enforcement may vary greatly by the jurisdiction. While the federal ELD specifications allow for a USB transfer, many states will not allow the use of any external device for security reasons. In fact it’s quite likely that many states will fall back on the ways they’re currently analyzing AOBRD information, such as e-mail, wireless web transfer, looking at the actual device display, or getting a printout of the HOS graph (although most ELDs do not include a printer, some can print out via a peripheral printing device.)

The first step in the enforcement process will be to determine if the driver has either an AOBRD or an ELD. If the driver has neither, they may be cited for non-compliance of the ELD requirement and may be placed out of service.

If the driver has an AOBRD, the inspection process will be no different from it has been since those devices were first put into service.

If the driver has an ELD, he or she will be expected to produce an ELD information packet to assist the inspecting official in determining the functionality of the device.


Additionally, the driver will be expected to produce the current day’s record of duty status as well as the previous seven days electronic logs, and to transfer that data to the inspector if requested. The driver must be familiar with the operation of the device and be able to perform those operations at the inspector’s request.

The driver must also be able to make the device display the current day’s log as well as the previous seven days in case a data transfer cannot be completed.

It is the driver’s responsibility to retrieve and produce the hours. If the driver cannot or refuses to produce the previous days logs on the ELD, they would be cited and the driver would be placed out of service. They would be referred to 395.24(d), which says, ‘on request by an authorized safety official, a driver must produce and transfer from an ELD the driver’s HOS records in accordance with the instruction sheet provided by the motor carrier.’

26. What do drivers do if their ELD stops working?

If an ELD malfunctions, according to FMCSA, a driver must:

  • Note the malfunction of the ELD immediately and provide written notice of the malfunction to the motor carrier within the first 24 hours of it occurring;
  • Reconstruct the record of duty status (RODS) for the current 24-hour period and the previous seven consecutive days, and record the records of duty status on graph-grid paper logs that comply with 49 CFR 395.8, unless the driver already has the records or retrieves them from the ELD; and
  • Continue to manually prepare RODS in accordance with 49 CFR 395.8 until the ELD is serviced and back in compliance. The recording of the driver’s hours of service on a paper log cannot continue for more than 8 days after the malfunction; a driver that continues to record his or her hours of service on a paper log beyond 8 days risk being placed out of service.

27. How long must a motor carrier retain ELD RODS and supporting document data?

Motor carriers must retain RODS and supporting documents for six months. A motor carrier must keep both the ELD RODS data, and a back-up copy of that data on a separate device. The carrier must ensure that these records are stored securely to protect driver privacy.

28. How many supporting documents must be retained by motor carriers, and when must drivers submit them to the motor carrier?

Motor carriers must retain up to eight supporting documents for every 24-hour period that a driver is on duty. Drivers must submit their records of duty status (RODS) and supporting documents to the motor carrier no later than 13 days after receiving them.

29. What are the categories of supporting documents?

FMCSA has identified five categories of supporting documents:

  • Bills of lading, itineraries, schedules, or equivalent documents that show the starting and ending location for each trip;
  • Dispatch records, trip records, or equivalent documents;
  • Expense receipts related to “on-duty/not driving” periods (meals, lodging, fuel, etc.);
  • Fleet management system communication records;
  • Payroll records, settlement sheets, or equivalent documents showing payment to a driver.

Drivers using paper RODS must also keep toll receipts, which do not count toward the eight-document cap. Upon request, a driver must provide any supporting document for an authorized safety official’s review.

Two categories — electronic mobile communications and payroll records — are not documents a driver would have to physically retain. They may be part of a larger record that the carrier retains electronically or physically at the dispatch location or principal place of business. In applying the eight-document limit, all information in an electronic mobile communication record will be counted as one document per duty day.

30. Where can I get more information?

FMCSA has answers to more frequently asked questions here:

You can also Contact Us for additional information.

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