Frequently Asked Questions

General FAQ's

1.What is an Electronic Logging Device?

In essence, an electronic logging device is a device that captures movement of a commercial motor vehicle. The requirement behind ELDs is that any time a truck is moving, the device will measure the number of miles the truck moves and will periodically provide updates regarding where the truck is located. The rule has very special requirements on how this is done. The device must capture the location of the truck at each change of duty status or at least once every hour. The device must also capture the location each time the engine is turned on or off.

While these devices are required to automatically capture drive time, all other duty statuses will require some input or intervention from the driver. For example, let’s say a driver drives for 100 miles and then stops. If the driver does nothing, the device will start an internal clock at the time the truck stops. After 5 minutes, the device is required to move the driver to on-duty/not driving status. The device is required to display a warning to the driver that it is shifting from driving status to on-duty/not driving status. If the driver does nothing else – the device will continue to keep the driver in on-duty/not driving. If the driver wishes to go off-duty, the driver must manually enter the new duty status into the device.

There are other nuances to the rule. As mentioned above, these devices are really only intended to automatically capture movement of the truck and record it as drive time. Neither the driver nor the carrier can remove drive time. All time a truck moves must be captured in the system and assigned to someone. 

2.Why is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requiring these devices?

The U.S. Congress required the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, to publish a rule (mandate) requiring these devices in commercial motor vehicles. Additionally, Congress required the agency to make this rule apply to motor carriers and their drivers within two years of publishing the rule.

The FMCSA estimates the rule will help avoid 1,844 crashes, 562 injuries and save 26 lives annually. This data is based on improved compliance with Hours of Service (HOS) regulations.

3.Who must comply with the new rules?

All interstate truck drivers who currently are required to fill out records of duty status (RODS) or log books are required to have an ELD. However, there are a few categories of drivers that are NOT required to have these devices.

THE EXEMPT DRIVERS INCLUDE:

1. Drivers who use paper RODS for not more than 8 days during any 30-day period.* 

2. Drivers who conduct driveaway-towaway operations, where the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered.

3. Drivers of vehicles manufactured before model year 2000.

*This group is primarily made up of short-haul drivers that currently use time cards instead of logbooks. However, if a short-haul driver uses a paper ROD more than 8 days in any 30-day rolling period, that driver must have an ELD installed in their truck.

Even though drivers mentioned here do not have to have an ELD, they must still comply with the HOS rules and keep required documents as detailed in the current rules. Additionally, motor carriers that employ ELD-exempt drivers must still have a system in place to ensure their drivers fully comply with HOS rules.

Many states automatically adopt federal rules for intrastate operations. If you live in a state that automatically adopts the federal rules, it is likely the federal ELD requirement will also apply to all your intrastate operations. Carriers that switch between intra- and interstate operations must do as before and comply with the federal regulations in the previous seven days prior to making an interstate trip. If you are a carrier that frequently switches between intra- and interstate operations, it may make more sense to install an ELD and comply with federal HOS regulations.

Each motor carrier should check with their state trucking association or state enforcement agency to find out if their state will adopt the federal ELD requirement and the timing of that adoption.

4.What other requirements were included in the rule?

In addition to mandating ELDs, the rule also spells out what type of supporting documents must now be kept by motor carriers. The requirement behind maintaining supporting documents in conjunction with the ELD is to help carriers identify all work time that should be logged as on-duty not driving.

A motor carrier must retain up to eight (8) supporting documents. These documents should have the following elements:

- Driver’s name or carrier assigned identification number*
- Date
- Location
- Time

*this can also be a truck number, if that truck number can be linked to a driver.

If a carrier does not have eight documents that contain all the above elements, they should keep any document that contains all the above elements except time, as that document would still be considered a supporting document.


The rule has five (5) categories of supporting documents. They are:

1. Bills of lading, itineraries, schedules, or equivalent documents that indicate the origin and destination of each trip
2. Dispatch Records, trip sheets/records, or equivalent documents
3. Expense receipts
4. Electronic mobile communication records (such as those through a fleet management system)
5. Payroll records, settlement sheets or equivalent documents regarding payment to a driver

Only drivers still on paper RODS will be required to keep toll receipts in the future.

Drivers are not required to keep all supporting documents in their possession for roadside enforcement. However, if they have them available in the cab of their truck, they must provide them to roadside enforcement personnel if requested. A driver only has to provide the document in the form they have available to them at the time of the request.                                                                             

Motor carriers are required to keep these supporting documents for six months - the same period as the electronic or paper logs.

5.How does a driver provide their logs to roadside enforcement officers?

The ELD rule requires certain transfer capabilities for all devices. An ELD provider must decide which type of transfer capability they will have.

There are two types of capabilities:

1. Peer-to-Peer Transfer (Local Transfer) – this requires the ELD manufacturer to have both Bluetooth and USB 2.0 available
2. Telematics Transfer (Electronic Transfer) – this requires the ELD Manufacturer to have both web services and SMTP email available.

6.When does the new rule go into effect, and when are companies and drivers required to comply?

The ELD rule becomes effective on February 16, 2016 and the compliance date of the rule is December 18, 2017. For those drivers and motor carriers that currently have Automatic On-Board Recording Devices (AOBRD) as allowed in Part 395.15, they do not have to replace those AOBRD devices until December 16, 2019.

Any current AOBRD provider can continue to over and install older AOBRD technology until December 18, 2017. However, after that date, only ELDs may be installed.

Motor carriers should carefully consider any equipment they install from this point forward. Motor carriers should communicate with their electronic log providers to ensure hardware they are installing will comply with this new rule. If, for some reason the older AOBRD equipment does not comply, it all must be replaced by December 16, 2019 with new ELD equipment.