How to Get Started With an Electronic Logging Device

By 2019, all commercial truck drivers including those grandfathered in with their AOBRDs will be required to use an electronic logging device. The ELD Mandate requires truckers to use specially designed devices to track, record, and report driving data. This data goes directly to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration via the Department of Transportation. The new system replaces paper logs entirely. As you get started using an electronic logging device, here is what you need to know.

Find a Self-Certified ELD

First of all, you must choose an ELD that was certified by the FMCSA. However, this is where things get tricky. The federal agency requires ELD manufacturers to self-certify their devices for commercial vehicle driver operations. The FCMSA does point out that companies may incorrectly self-certify their ELDs. This is alarming when you are trying to find the right ELD to use while maintaining your DOT compliance.

The best you can do is to check the updated list of Registered ELDs as presented by the FCMSA. Here you can search among devices and ELD companies. Each self-registered ELD listing also features contact information, an image of the ELD, and the user manual for the device. This lets you review the device specifications to see if it will meet your needs. You can also see which devices have been un-certified, which can save you the trouble of picking up a curiously discounted ELD.

The FMCSA also recommends doing a customer review search online before you buy an ELD. Look up what other truck drivers are saying about an electronic logging device to get a truck driver's insight on how well the ELD actually works in the real world.

Read the User Manual

While you might avoid the user manual for most of your devices, you will be smart to hang on to this manual. In fact, the FCMSA requires commercial truck drivers to retain the user manual and troubleshooting guides in their truck at all times.

You will be expected to know how your ELD works, even in the event of a malfunction over the road. More critically, any DOT inspectors or authorities will also need to know how to access your data in an emergency. Speaking of paperwork, remember those paper logs that were replaced by ELDs? You will also need to keep at least eight days' worth of paper logs in case your ELD is inoperable.

Using an Electronic Logging Device

You will be using your electronic logging device every time you head out for a trip. This includes local trucking jobs, regional hauls, and over the road trucking positions. If you need to have a CDL to drive the vehicle, then you must use an ELD to track your driving behavior.

The way an ELD works is by storing all of your driving data in a system. This data is then transmitted to the FMCSA using an electronic data transfer. You can transfer truck driver data using either wireless internet, email, Bluetooth, or USB2.0.

What happens if your data is incorrect or you make a mistake? Not to worry. Refer back to your user manual that is in your big rig, and make the edits for your hours of service. You will be required to get authorization for these changes from your employer, but it is a legitimate process.

Replacing AOBRDs

If you recall, some truck drivers are currently using AOBRDs or automatic onboard recording devices. What is the difference between these and ELDs? An ABORD is the forerunner of an ELD, but it lacks the ability to track as much data.

For instance, an AOBRD will record each change of duty, i.e., off-duty versus on-duty. However, an ELD will go a step further by telling the system when you turned the truck engine off. In addition, an ELD provides a tracking accuracy of within one mile for on-duty statuses. If you are currently using an AOBRD, you have until December 16, 2019 to switch over to an electronic logging device.