Under FMCSA final rule, electronic logging devices will become mandatory in 2017

Dec. 16, 2015
Find FMCSA electronic logging device ruling for driver hours of service.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published its final rule for electronic logging devices for recording driver hours of service in the December 16 issue of the Federal Register. Barring any last-minute delays, truck fleets must be compliant by 2017.

National Tank Truck Carriers (www.tanktruck.org) was an early advocate of an electronic driver log mandate, according to Daniel Furth, NTTC president. Under the leadership of NTTC past chairman Steve Rush (president of Carbon Express), the NTTC publicly supported the mandatory use of ELDs for documentary compliance with hours of service rules back in 2011. 

“The rule is a major advancement for safety in the trucking industry as ELD technology directly improves the working conditions for professional drivers, Furth says.

FMCSA officials have predicted that use of electronic logging devices (ELD) will result in an annual net benefit of more than $1 billion--largely by reducing the amount of required industry paperwork. It will also increase the efficiency of roadside law enforcement personnel in reviewing driver records. Strict protections are included that will protect commercial drivers from harassment. 

On an annual average basis, the ELD final rule is estimated to save 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries resulting from crashes involving large commercial motor vehicles.

“This is a win for all motorists on our nation’s roadways,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Scott Darling. “Employing technology to ensure that commercial drivers comply with federal hours-of-service rules will prevent crashes and save lives.”

An ELD automatically records driving time.  It monitors engine hours, vehicle movement, miles driven, and location information. 

 The four main elements of the ELD final rule include:

• Requiring commercial truck and bus drivers who currently use paper log books to maintain hours-of-service records to adopt ELDs within two years. It is anticipated that approximately three million drivers will be impacted.

• Strictly prohibiting commercial driver harassment. The final rule provides both procedural and technical provisions designed to protect commercial truck and bus drivers from harassment resulting from information generated by ELDs. [A separate FMCSA rulemaking further safeguards commercial drivers from being coerced to violate federal safety regulations and provides the agency with the authority to take enforcement actions not only against motor carriers, but also against shippers, receivers, and transportation intermediaries.]

• Setting technology specifications detailing performance and design requirements for ELDs so that manufacturers are able to produce compliant devices and systems--and purchasers are enabled to make informed decisions.

• Establishing new hours-of-service supporting document (shipping documents, fuel purchase receipts, etc.) requirements that will result in additional paperwork reductions. In most cases, a motor carrier would not be required to retain supporting documents verifying on-duty driving time.

In developing the ELD final rule, FMCSA relied on input from its Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, feedback from two public listening sessions, comments filed during an extended comment period following the 2011 proposed rule, and comments to the 2014 supplementary proposed rule. The final rule also incorporates the mandates included in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act and other statutes.

The ELD final rule permits the use of smart phones and other wireless devices as ELDs, so long as they satisfy technical specifications, are certified, and are listed on an FMCSA website. Canada- and Mexico- domiciled drivers will also be required to use ELDs when operating on US roadways. 

Motor carriers who have previously installed compliant Automatic On-Board Recording Devices may continue to use the devices for an additional two years beyond the compliance date.

A copy of the ELD final rule is available at: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/electronic-logging-devices-and-hours-service-supporting-documents.

Further information, including a comprehensive, searchable list of frequently asked questions, and a calendar of upcoming free training webinars, is available at: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/elds.