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The Complete Guide to the FMCSA’s ELD Mandate

If you manage a fleet of commercial motor vehicles, you must comply with the FMCSA's ELD mandate. This mandate embraces the 21st century and marks the change of paper driving logs to electronic logging devices (ELDs) to track your vehicle and hours of service. The United States Department of Transportation (DoT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) work together to instate mandates that decrease the number of accidents on American roads every day.

At Rand McNally Fleet, we create ELDs that help your fleet stay within strict compliance standards while optimizing your operations. To help you understand what you need to know to keep your fleet compliant, we created this FMCSA ELD mandate guide.

What is the ELD Mandate?

The ELD mandate, also called the ELD final rule, was penned by FMCSA to create a safe driving environment for commercial vehicles and drivers. Through enforcing hours-of-service regulations, ELD mandates reduce driver fatigue and minimize road accidents.

Electronic logging devices are small pieces of hardware attached to your commercial vehicle's engine that record total driving hours — or hours of service — as the vehicle moves. ELDs are complex enough to recognize the different states of a vehicle's engine, including when the engine is running and the vehicle is moving. It records the vehicle's date, time, and general location, alongside the engine's hours and the vehicle's mileage. With this real-time insight, your ELD helps increase overall fleet compliance and management and allows for better planning. 

The FMCSA enforces the hours of service that a commercial vehicle can drive every day and week to prevent drivers from becoming exhausted and causing accidents. The FMCSA also creates restrictions such as mandatory rest breaks. Every year, the FMCSA's ELD mandate helps avoid an average of 1,844 crashes and 562 injuries. And through the ELD mandates, 26 lives are saved every year.

ELD Rules and Regulations

The FMCSA ELD mandate includes several rules. All property-carrying and passenger-carrying vehicles must comply with ELD rules and regulations. Here's a quick overview of the ELD mandate's requirements:

  • All commercial drivers must have an ELD connected to the engine to record whether the engine is in motion.
  • Drivers must prepare records of duty status (RODS) and hours-of-service (HOS) records.
  • ELDs must provide a visual RODS graphic to allow drivers to see the hours they've driven.
  • ELDs must be certified and registered with FMCSA and meet certain technical design and performance specifications.
  • ELDs must allow drivers to choose between several non-driving statuses, including not driving, Off-Duty, On-Duty and On-Duty, Not Driving.
  • ELDs must record data in a format that can be provided to law enforcement as needed through USB, Bluetooth, or wireless web services.
  • Drivers may not be harassed using data from ELDs.

Canada has some similar rules for its ELD mandates, with some key differences.

Hours-Of-Service Regulations

The FMCSA specifies that property-carrying drivers are only allowed to drive 11 hours maximum after 10 consecutive hours off duty and have a 14-hour window to drive the maximum 11 hours, with at least a 30-minute break every 8 hours. If a driver is carrying passengers, they may only drive 10 hours maximum after their eight consecutive hours off duty and may not drive past the 15-hour mark after coming on duty.

Drivers must also never drive after more than 60 hours in seven consecutive days or 70 hours in eight consecutive days. Drivers cannot start a new seven-day or eight-day period until they've taken at least 34 consecutive hours off duty.

The hours of service regulations state that a property-carrying driver must take a 30-minute break for every eight cumulative hours they drive without interruption. Drivers may split their required 10-hour off-duty period into two sessions using the sleeper berth provision. This provision lets drivers restart their 14-hour window without taking 10 hours off duty in one period.

Instead, drivers can split their 10-hour off-duty period into two sessions as long as they add to 10 hours, and one is at least 7 hours, spent only in the sleeper berth, and the other is at least two hours, spent any way the driver likes. The 14-hour window starts over, starting from the conclusion of the sleeper berth shift. However, the second break must occur before the 14-hour window can reset.

When driving through adverse conditions, drivers can extend the 11-hour driving limit and 14-hour driving window by up to 2 hours. A driver may also be exempt from requirements if they operate within a 150-air-mile radius of their work reporting location and do not exceed a 15-hour maximum driving period. This is referred to as the short-haul exception, and all conditions must be well-documented by the driver.

Who Does the ELD Mandate Apply to? 

According to FMCSA, ELD mandates apply to all motor drivers and carriers who must keep records of duty service or RODS according to hours-of-service (HOS) regulations. Those who do not keep paper RODs or use the time card exemption are not required to use ELDs.

Exemptions from the ELD Mandate

The FMCA's ELD mandate does not apply to drivers who do not have to maintain RODS. Some drivers who do maintain RODS may also be exempt from the ELD mandate, such as: 

  • Drivers using commercial vehicles manufactured before the model year 2000.
  • Drivers who work in driveaway and towaway operations, so long as the vehicle they are driving is part of the shipment or is a motor home or recreational vehicle.
  • Drivers who only keep a RODS for eight days or less in any 30-day period. 

While not required, carriers exempt from the ELD mandate can choose to use ELDs for drivers.

ELD Solutions

ELD solutions allow your fleet to stay within utmost compliance with FMCSA as well as improve your fleet's productivity and efficiency. With the right ELD, your fleet can save money and time.

New ELD solutions have ample features to improve your fleet, including:

  • HOS Alerts: Most importantly, ELDs give you and your drivers alerts when nearing HOS limits. This feature prevents your drivers from going over time limits, keeps roads safe, and ensures your fleet's FMCSA compliance.
  • Instant Messaging: With instant messaging and notifications from your ELD, you'll instantly be in tune with any problems that arise with your fleet and can track emerging details.
  • Automated IFTA Reports: Smart ELD devices can automatically calculate the fuel purchased and the distance driven to make International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) reporting easier and more accurate.
  • GPS Tracking: Advanced ELD solutions have built-in GPS tracking to let your operation optimize your routes and provide stellar customer service for shipments.

Why use ELDs from Rand McNally?

Rand McNally ELDs & fleet management platform are comprehensive solutions for electronically recording your drivers' hours of service logs and streamlining reporting operations. We have the knowledge and experience to help you avoid potential carrier Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) violations. Our ELDs and services help you improve your fleet's safety and reduce mistakes with technology and interfaces that give you the insights necessary to elevate your fleet.

Rand McNally also specializes in HOS compliance software that's suitable for fleets of any size or makeup. In our hours of service platform, you can see critical data at a glance, such as:

  • Date
  • Driver ID
  • DoT number
  • Off hours
  • On hours
  • Violations
  • Miles
  • Certifications
  • Last data entry

With the Rand McNally app, you can track driver status down to the minute for highly accurate reporting. Our app also increases hours-of-service compliance by sending automatic alerts one hour, 30 minutes, and 15 minutes before a driver's hour limits are reached in a given period.

Request an ELD from Rand McNally Fleet

Rand McNally Fleet offers a comprehensive line of fleet solutions for compliance, tracking, and monitoring. We help you increase your fleet's productivity and efficiency, all while keeping you compliant with FMCSA law and making your fleet even more competitive.

Reach out and contact us today to hear from one of our team members about Rand McNally Fleet's ELD solutions.

A computer screen and phone next to text about the ELD from Rand McNally Fleet.

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