Driver Electronic Logging Device Rules Go Into Effect Dec 18

Beginning December 18, 2017, inspectors and roadside enforcement personnel will be looking for driver records of duty status (RODS), also known as hours of service logs, to be captured using an electronic logging device (ELD). Although the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) developed this regulation to apply nationwide, local jurisdictions have been given the authority to decide whether they will issue citations between now and March 31, 2018.

On April 1, 2018, drivers found in non-compliance with the ELD regulations will have their vehicles placed out of service. Given the serious consequence of an infraction, SBCA has pulled together the following information to help component manufacturers understand and comply with this new regulation. If you’ve already chosen your approach to the new rule, check out these best practices for implementation. If, after reading this article, you still have question, please contact SBCA staff.

Who Must Use ELDs?

Except for a few exemptions, any driver who currently has to complete RODS will need to use an ELD starting December 18, 2017.

Drivers with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) are required to fill out RODS, unless any one of the following criteria is not met (i.e., these are exceptions to using an ELD):

  • Must operate solely within a 100 air-mile radius.*
  • Must operate completely within state lines.
  • Must be completely off-duty within 12 hours of the start of their shift.
  • Must report back to the same work location every day.
  • Must have at least 10 consecutive hours off duty between each shift.

* Air miles for a trip are calculated based on a straight line between the vehicle’s point of origin and the vehicle’s current location. As a consequence, the travel miles between the plant and the delivery site can be over 100 road miles. There are several mobile apps and website mapping services that can calculate air miles between two geographic locations.  For example, the map below was generated by and shows a 100-mile radius around the center of Chicago, Illinois.



What are the Exemptions from Using ELDs?

For the component manufacturing industry, the applicable exemptions are for “drivers who are required to keep RODS not more than eight (8) days within any 30-day period” and “drivers of vehicles manufactured before the model year 2000.”

That first exemption comes into play if you have a driver who makes infrequent trips (less than eight in any 30-day period) that require RODS. The second exemption recognizes that ELD interface technology with commercial motor vehicle (CMV) engines wasn’t widely available before the model year 2000.

It’s important to note that if the engine was replaced, and the current engine is newer than model year 2000, the driver of that vehicle will need to comply with the ELD rule. The driver does not need to keep documentation confirming the engine’s model year with the vehicle, but the employer should be able to prove this upon request.

If you have a CMV that meet this criterion and are concerned about compliance with the ELD requirements in the short term, one viable strategy is to use that vehicle on trips that cross state lines and/or exceed the 100 mile air-mile radius.

Are There Different Rules for Different States?

For vehicles crossing state lines during the course of their delivery, the federal guidelines apply. For vehicles operating within a state’s borders, the state’s laws apply. This matters because state regulations can differ. In the state of Texas, for example, all drivers (federal exemptions are eliminated) who have to complete RODS will have to use an ELD by December 19, 2019. Florida is considering adopting the federal rules and exemptions with an enforcement date of December 31, 2018, but the measure has stalled in the Florida legislature. A petition was circulated in August claiming 26 states had not yet incorporated ELD regulations into their own state laws and therefore were not authorized to enforce this new rule. However, most of the states named in the petition pointed out they have state laws that automatically adopt federal rules as they go into effect.

This discrepancy has generated a significant amount of misinformation that everyone from ELD manufacturers to ELD opponents have used to spread rumors. According to FMCSA, all inspectors and roadside enforcement personnel are ready and will be enforcing the new ELD regulations starting next week. If you have heard your state is taking a different approach, please let  SBCA know and we will happy to research those claims.

Do You Need to Have an ELD in Every Vehicle?

Given the parameters above, ELDs may not be necessary for every vehicle in a component manufacturer’s (CM’s) fleet. For instance, if a majority of a CM’s deliveries meet all the criteria listed above and don’t require RODS, ELDs could be reserved for only the vehicles necessary to complete the deliveries needing RODS.

A CM could also elect to not permanently install an ELD, but rather utilize portable ELD devices. If a CM chooses this route, ensure there is a fixed mount in the vehicle that allows the driver to see the ELD’s readout while seated. Smartphones can be used as an ELD, as long as they meet the required technical specifications. The employer, not the driver, is responsible for making sure every device used is a registered and compliant ELD.

It’s important to point out that while the ELD can be portable, there is certain documentation that is required to be in the vehicle with the driver when the ELD is being used. When using portable ELD devices, the CM will have to decide whether to make the packet of documents portable as well, or put a packet in every vehicle.

Here are 14 tips for evaluating ELD systems and choosing the right option  for your fleet.

How Long Must ELD Records Be Kept?

RODS should be retained by the employer for six months, including a back-up copy of the data on a device other than the ELD. The employer must ensure that these records are stored securely to protect driver privacy.

How Does the New Rule Address Driver Harassment?

The new rule defines driver harassment as any action taken by an employer toward one of its drivers that the employer “knew, or should have known, would result in the driver violating hours of service (HOS) rules in 49 CFR 395 or 49 CFR 392.3.”


If RODS aren’t required for a trip now, that will not change under the new ELD rule. While there are a few states that haven’t adopted these rules for intrastate trade (trips within their borders), it is likely all states will do so soon or risk losing important federal transportation funding.

If you have a limited number of trips that require RODS, and you are concerned about enforcement in the short term, you have three simple options. One, you can use a pre-2000 model year vehicle to make those delivers and still fill out paper logs (as long as the engine hasn’t been replaced with a newer model). Two, you can spread these trips out amongst multiple drivers to ensure no one does more than eight in any thirty-day period. Three, you can purchase a mobile ELD and move it to the truck and the driver who needs it. There are a lot of ELD options available. For the long term, it makes sense to evaluate all of the technology and services out there to find the best fit for your company’s circumstances.

Again, enforcement of the new ELD rule begins on December 18, 2017. However, you will likely have until April 1, 2018 before financial penalties are assessed and vehicles are placed out of service at the time of inspection.