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What Is ELD & Why Does It Matter?

Electronic Logging Devices are an important element for compliance in the fleet industry

June 24, 2021Paige Lichtenwalter

An ELD or electronic logging device is hardware that’s attached to the engine of a truck and monitors the driving hours, driver activity, and record of duty statuses (RODS). The ELD keeps drivers and truck dispatchers aware of important information about the engine and driver conditions in real-time. Read on to learn more about ELDs and why they matter. 

What is an ELD? 

An ELD (Electronic Logging Device) is a special type of hardware connected to a commercial trucking engine. The ELD communicates directly with the vehicle’s engine control unit (ECU). From there, the ELD receives information from the ECU and records it. The information includes miles driven, hours spent driving, ignition status, and GPS location. The full list of information included varies by ELD provider but most provide the following information: 

  • Vehicle identification
  • Motor carrier information
  • Date
  • Time
  • Geographic location (continually updated)
  • Miles traveled
  • Startup/shut down notifications for engine power
  • Yard moves
  • Intervals of motion
  • Engine diagnostics
  • Driver authorization
  • Driver log-in/log-off
  • Hours of Service (HOS)
  • Driver’s daily record & certification
  • Duty status changes

The ELD then stores this information to a server where dispatchers can use software or an app to view the data. The device can also update driving logs and meet compliance checks. Information is often displayed on a tablet in a truck cab so the driver can view it when needed. 

Who Uses ELDs

An ELD is required by law for anyone who’s required to keep hours of service records. If you were previously required to file a ROD, you need to use an ELD. More specifically, if you have eight or more days worth of duty status logs within a 30 day time period, you’re required to use an ELD. This mandate covers most: 

  • Truck drivers in the United States
  • Vehicles that weigh more than 1,001 lbs
  • Vehicles with hazmat loads
  • Commercial motor vehicle drivers

There are few exceptions to the ELD mandate as well. These are the vehicles that don’t need an ELD: 

  • Drivers who don’t use a ROD for more than 8 days within a 30-day period
  • Short-haul drivers
  • Drivers with vehicle models older than the year 2000
  • Drivers for agriculture and livestock vehicles 
  • Driveaway/towaway drivers when the vehicle is part of the shipment

All other commercial motor vehicles and commercial trucks must use an ELD.  

Why Are ELDs Important? 

ELDs are an important part of trucking and transportation goods. They’re important for fleet management operators because they’re required by law but also because they improve safety and help with compliance. Drivers need ELDs to record all the required information in their logs without the hassle. ELDs help improves safety, compliance, and efficiency. 

The Benefits of ELD

ELDs have many important benefits for carriers and drivers. Here are the top advantages to having an ELD:

  • Improved safety. Safety is everyone’s number one priority, and an ELD does help keep drivers safe. An ELD keeps accurate records of the hours spent driving to ensure that drivers aren’t fatigued. ELDs can also monitor additional driver behavior to create a culture of safety across the fleet. 
  • Improved fleet efficiency. Fleet owners can use the data from the ELD to reduce fuel costs. By monitoring engine idling, maintenance needs, and route planning, operators can cut back on costs and keep the fleet running at a higher level of efficiency. 
  • Improved CSA scores. A Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) score is one of the most important metrics for a fleet. Higher CSA scores are what customers are looking for when choosing a fleet. An ELD can improve your CSA scores by helping you meet compliance requirements and removing the element of human error from the HOS logs. 
  • Improved Vehicle Inspections. Roadside inspections take time. Filling out the reports for inspections also takes time. An ELD can reduce the amount of time spent doing inspections and keep your fleet on the road with increased accuracy in the reports too. 
  • Reduced paperwork. RODs and HOSs used to be all paperwork, and they used to cost the industry over a billion dollars in administrative fees. With an ELD, there’s reduced paperwork, which makes drivers happier and also saves the industry a lot of money. The drivers also save valuable time by not having to manually log all the information. 

Getting ELD Ready

Once you know your fleet is required to use an ELD, you’ll want to start transitioning from paperwork to the digital system. What is an ELD transition plan? Here are the basic steps for getting ELD ready: 

  • Start training your staff. They’re the ones who’ll need to make the transition happen, so getting them on board right away is crucial to a smooth transition. 
  • Choose an ELD device. Not all ELD devices are certified by the FMCSA. In order to ensure your fleet is compliant, you’ll want to confirm the ELD device conforms to set technical specifications, is certified by the manufacturer, and is registered with the FMCSA.
  • Choose the right ELD provider. The most important part of getting ready is to choose the best provider for your fleet. The provider will control pricing, timing, and even the layout of the system. You’ll want to take the time to consider the best option for your fleet.

The FTS Solution

Our FTS ELD solution is designed to help you be compliant without complications. You’ll have all the normal benefits of an ELD with the additional benefits of a built-in fleet tracking system, flexible device options, and real-time alerts. To get started with an ELD, schedule your demo today

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