If you own or drive a commercial vehicle, you may have heard of an electronic logbook before. In this article, we’ll tell you all you need to know about this handy little safety device, including how to choose a good ELD for your vehicle.
What Is an Electronic Logbook?
An electronic logbook, also known as an electronic logging device, ELD, or e-log, is a technology invented to accurately track and record a driver’s hours of service and record of duty status (RODS). It can be purchased as standalone hardware or an elogs app that works on mobile devices after installation and activation.
This device mainly works by using GPS tracking, logbook tracking, and a wireless communication device. Accordingly, it can automatically record driving time, on-duty time, off-duty time, personal conveyance, speed, and other information once the driver logs in.
Why Did Using ELD Logs Become Mandatory?
Numerous commercial motor vehicle accidents occur every year due to fatigue and lack of alertness. To stop this, all commercial motor vehicle drivers were required by law to only work for a specified number of hours and to provide a written record of these hours, hence the RODS.
However, many mistakenly recorded their hours wrong or purposely tampered with their RODS. As such, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed the ELD mandate in 2015.
This mandate requires that all drivers who had to maintain RODS change from using paper logbooks to electronic logbooks for accuracy, reliability, comfort, and safety.
Importance and Benefits of Electronic Logs
Since electronic logs store GPS data, such as driving time, vehicle motion, speed, and mileage, they ensure that drivers and the trucking/transportation companies comply with the hours of service regulations and rules enforced by the FMCSA.
ELDs also allow the transfer of this data to law enforcement in case of roadside inspections. And some ELDs even have IFTA mileage reporting and other features that can help a driver pass his DOT audit.
In addition, they can monitor other vehicle data, such as engine temperature, water temperature, oil pressure, fuel consumption, and more. This simplifies planning a vehicle’s maintenance schedule and cuts down on unexpected repair costs.
All in all, this technology allows drivers and trucking companies to increase productivity and efficiency, as they will instead use the time spent on filling out paper logbooks and waiting during inspections for driving. Not to mention, ELDs also inhibit any accidental errors that take extra time to be fixed and prevent violations and their resultant penalties/fines.
Who Is Required to Use an Electronic Logging Device?
In simple terms, motor carriers and drivers that have to provide a RODS for more than 8 days out of 30 days have been required to use an ELD since 2017. This includes long-haul drivers of all commercial motor vehicles, such as trucks, buses, and more.
Also, this usually includes interstate and Canada/Mexico-domiciled drivers. Moreover, the ELD rule also applies to all vehicles manufactured in 2000 and after.
Accordingly, this means that drivers who provide a RODS for 8 days or less out of 30 days don’t need to use an electronic logbook; paper logbooks will suffice. Similarly, short-haul drivers and drivers of vehicles produced before the year 2000 and drive-away-tow-away vehicles aren’t required by federal law to use an electronic log.
Tip: Vehicles equipped with automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) before 2017 didn’t have to use electronic logging devices till the compliance date of December of 2019.
ELD Compliance Requirements and Specifications
Before looking at any ELD features, ensure that the model you’re considering is registered on the FMCSA’s list. Then, confirm that the model’s features comply with the FMCSA requirements, as the ELD providers on this list are self-certified.
To exemplify, some of the FMCSA requirements include providing separate accounts for drivers and administration, having internal synchronization with the engine’s control module, and being tamper-resistant.
Moreover, the ELD should record the date, time, location, miles, engine hours, and driver and vehicle identification. Furthermore, it should support the four exemptions of the hours-of-service rule and retain all the data for the day and the last 7 days.
Most importantly, it should display all the data either on-screen or by printing a graph grid showing the detailed duty status. And it must be able to transfer said data through a wireless connection or by using a USB and Bluetooth.
Some additional features you should look for are ease of use, location accuracy to a one-mile radius, volume control, and the ability to download and use it on a mobile device without the need for hardware.
Also, know that while most electronic logbooks come with a fleet management system to improve fleet performance and keep in contact with the fleet manager, it isn’t a mandatory requirement in an ELD.
Examples of Good Electronic Logging Devices:
- KeepTruckin Driver App: The KeepTruckin Electronic Logbook App is compliant with FMCSA and DOT regulations and easy to use by all KeepTruckin app users, be it drivers or fleet managers.
- Stone EZ-ELD: This is another ELD that’s easy to install. It also allows for better management through its back-office features.
- ThinAir ELD: This ELD app is user-friendly and has voice dictation for free hands when you’re driving.
Since 2017, electronic logbooks have replaced the time-wasting paper logs required of specific commercial vehicle drivers. Not only did the ELD solution save time and money, but it also promoted a more comfortable and safer work environment for those involved with commercial vehicles.
Ultimately, once you find an excellent ELD compliant with the FMCSA checklist, you’ll be able to say goodbye to the tedious paperwork forever.