The Congressionally-mandated Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule went into effect December 18, 2017.  For the past few months, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have agreed to “soft” enforcement – issuing driver warnings, and not citations, for failure to have an ELD. Motor carrier safety ratings likewise have not been “dinged” when ELDs have not been present. Drivers and fleets have responded — FMCSA says roadside compliance has continuously risen, reaching 96% in recent days.

Just days from now, on April 1, full enforcement of the ELD rule begins. If you are among the 4% who do not yet have an ELD, here’s what you should know:

Federal Hours of Service (HOS) rules still require a driver who must keep records of duty status (RODS) to have the current day plus the prior seven days’ records available for enforcement. In other words, failure to have an ELD on April 1, up and recording the present day, does not relieve you of the requirement to produce the past seven days of activity.

During the “soft” enforcement period, ending April 1, CVSA guidance to roadside enforcement stated that the previous seven days of RODS could be provided through any of the following:

  • Paper records.
  • A printout from an electronic logging device.
  • A display from a device installed with logging software and electronic signature capabilities.
  • Having the records available by entering them into an ELD, or
  • Continued use of a grandfathered automatic on-board recording device (AOBRD).

On April 1, that information should be retrievable from the ELD on your commercial motor vehicle (CMV). In no event should you be without the prior seven days’ of records.

Under the ELD Rule, you must also carry an “ELD information packet” onboard your CMV. That information packet contains:

  1. A user’s manual for the driver describing how to operate the ELD;
  2. An instruction sheet describing the data transfer mechanisms supported by the ELD and step-by-step instructions to produce and transfer the driver’s hours-of-service records to an authorized safety official;
  3. An instruction sheet for the driver describing ELD malfunction reporting requirements and recordkeeping procedures during ELD malfunctions; and
  4. A supply of blank driver’s records of duty status (RODS) graph-grids sufficient to record the driver’s duty status and other related information for a minimum of 8 days.

Items 1, 2 and 3 can be in electronic form.

So, what happens if you do not have an ELD on April 1? Enforcement happens.

The driver will be cited and placed out-of-service (OOS) for 10 hours. Think of it this way: on April 1, an ELD – required since December 18 of last year – is the only source of an HOS record that enforcement will accept.  (Yes, there are allowances for grandfathered AORBDs and for ELD malfunctions – but those are exceptions and not the rule.)

From the roadside enforcement officer’s perspective, the driver has no HOS record and thus must get the required 10 hours off-duty before driving again. The citation might also note failure to produce the prior seven days’ records and failure to carry the ELD information packet, if applicable. These citations will now impact motor carrier safety ratings, as well.

What happens after the driver is placed OOS for 10 hours? He still doesn’t have an ELD, after all. How does the driver return to duty? Recently, FMCSA recognized the impracticality of potentially stranding drivers and CMVs for not having an ELD and announced that, after the 10 hours off, the driver will be allowed to travel to the next scheduled stop, where the driver should not be dispatched again without an ELD. Failure to have an ELD thereafter will subject both the driver and the motor carrier to further enforcement.

By the way, the driver should properly record that travel time – it’s still part of HOS – with an annotation that FMCSA allows this trip segment (only) without an ELD. One can be sure that roadside enforcement will keep a similar record and will follow up later.

If you are still holding out on getting an ELD, it’s now time to come into compliance with the ELD Rule. Don’t wait till April 1. Have an ELD onboard, loaded with the prior seven days’ records. Place an ELD information packet in every CMV. Make sure your drivers know how to operate the ELD and how to transfer records to roadside enforcement.

If you are looking for a simple, BYOD ELD solution from a name you can trust, sign up for PrePass ELD. Designed with simplicity in mind, this mobile application takes only seconds to install: simply plug your OBD device into the truck’s diagnostic port, and PrePass ELD app will begin recording movement and driver hours. It’s straightforward and only captures the data required by law.

On April 1, FMCSA may allow that one trip segment after being found without an ELD – but the citations still count against the driver and the motor carrier and you are begging for a full follow-up review of your records. Don’t wait another day. April 1 is right around the corner.