The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule is a mandate by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and Department of Transportation, and it applies to most motor carriers and truck drivers who are required to keep records of duty service.
ELDs were implemented to regulate the number of hours of service (HOS) a commercial driver may drive to ensure they don’t exceed the maximum driving hours allowed. The fact is, drivers who push their logbook hours can become fatigued and are less alert and able to respond to current driving conditions which impact safety.
ELDs are aimed at replacing manual paper logbooks typically used in the trucking industry. Compared to the paper log system, ELDs are more efficient in helping to reduce HOS violations and in preventing drivers and carriers from manipulating logbook hours.
When drivers or fleet companies violate HOS rules, trucks and drivers could be placed on a temporarily out-of-service order for up to 10 hours for each violation of the updated Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance guidelines, as well as be subject to penalties and fines. In addition, a violation can impact company’s Compliance, Safety and Accountability scores (used to identify high-risk carriers or drivers that the FMCFA may need to act against), driver safety ratings, insurance premiums, and even the quality of future loads.
However, since the ELD’s inception more than four years ago, the FMCSA has made the decision to review the rule to ensure that it remains appropriate for the transportation industry and whether changes should be made. Here, we’ll look at the specific areas in which the FMCSA is proposing possible changes to the ELD rule as outlined in the Federal Register.
All ELD providers must self-certify their technology according to the FMCSA’s standards and notify the administration of any major updates before being added to the list of registered ELDs. According to Fleet Owner, the FMCSA is considering whether a centralized certification process would be more effective in relieving the government of the duty to verify ELDs, as well as decreasing wait times for device approvals. Currently, it’s unsure what that process would look like and how it could impact the transportation industry and existing devices.
ELD malfunction clarification
In the event of an ELD malfunction, a driver documenting his or her records of duty must switch to paper logs that will then be reviewed by enforcement personnel. However, when an ELD malfunctions but continues to accurately record the driver’s hours, the driver is not required to switch to paper logs. The FMCSA is addressing the issue of clarification to help drivers and carriers better determine their responsibilities under the rule as to exactly when they must use paper logs.
Currently, a company has eight days from the time a malfunctioning has been discovered to make repairs or replace the unit. If a device cannot be repaired in time and obtaining a replacement is not an alternative, a company must file for an extension withing five days. During that time, the FMCSA considers a company in compliance until a decision is reached. 
ELDs and pre-2000 engines
The ELD rule exempts all vehicles with pre-2000 engines and most vehicles with rebuilt pre-2000 engines because it was assumed that ELD devices could not accurately record/relay the required information. The FMCSA is considering a rewrite of the exemption, as many pre-2000 vehicles, as well as those with rebuilt engines, have engine control modules that could accommodate an ELD., 
Revoking noncompliant ELDs
There are three main issues of concern for the FMCSA regarding the revoking of noncompliant ELDs.
First, the ELD rule requires ELD providers to keep their information updated in order to remain in compliance, but it does not state a specific time restriction in which to do so. The FMCSA is questioning whether ELD providers should be given a time frame of 30 days to update their listing when changes to their registration information are made. And, if these providers fail to comply, if the FMCSA can make the determination to remove them from the list.
Next, the rule states that when a provider is given written notice of a proposed device removal, it has 60 days to act. Currently, the FMCSA is considering decreasing the notice compliance time to 30 days.
Lastly, if an ELD provider goes out of business and fails to self-revoke, the FMCSA is addressing whether the agency should be granted the authority to remove the device from the registered ELD list.
ELD technical specifications
The FMCSA is also questioning technical specifications associated with ELDs in an effort to ensure that devices remain current with advances in new technology. Key areas the agency is looking to address to help improve ELD technology include data recording and transfer, cross-border commerce and information security and compliance. You can read more about these and other proposed changes by the FMCSA by visiting the Federal Register.
Take note! Effective Jan. 1 of this year, carriers operating in Canada are required to use ELDs certified by Transport Canada. Drivers operating Canadian or American trucks in Canada must use devices from the country’s list of ELDs in order to avoid receiving citations, according to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.
Moving forward, it will become increasingly important for companies and drivers to stay informed regarding changes to the ELD rule and the potential impact of being found in noncompliance should new guidelines be implemented.
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