Electronic Driver Logs (ELDs)

ELDs are about to be mandated for industry wide use to improve HOS compliance. In advance of the mandate, carriers are increasingly using electronic driver logs as a safety and compliance tool that also enables them to achieve productivity gains.

Driver log

ELDs and EOBRs

There is a change in terminology
Electronic on-board recorder (EOBR) has been a common industry term for electronic driver logs for the past decade. However, the MAP-21 legislation that mandates these systems uses the term “Electronic Logging Device” or “ELD.” In fact, as of today, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is now using ELD in its rulemaking, and ATA and others have also started using the term, ELD. While FMCSA used “EOBR” in prior rulemakings, these were vacated in a litigation case and are no longer part of the regulatory records. Accordingly, while use of the term “EOBR”  is still acceptable as a generic reference to electronic driver logs,  ELD refers to systems defined in the new mandate rulemaking.

EOBR-related regulatory and legislative developments:

FMCSA ELD Mandate Rulemaking

FMCSA is actively developing the ELD mandate rule as directed by Congress with the MAP-21 ("Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century") law that became effective October 1, 2012.

Mandate Scope

With the mandate, ELDs will be required for drivers that are currently subject to paper logs--specifically: 395.8 Record of Duty Status (RODS). Below are FMCSA estimates for ELD usage includes:

  Power Units Drivers
Long Haul (subject to RODS) 1.5 M 1.6M
Regional & Private Fleets (subject to RODS) 1.6 M 1.8 M
Total 3.1 M 3.4 M

Exemptions of ELDs include:

  • Short-haul drivers operating within 100 mile radius
  • Non-CDL drivers operating within 150 mile radius

New/Updated Requirements for ELDs

The ELD mandate rulemaking will address the following requirements:

  • Technical revisions to a prior EOBR rule 395.16, which was vacated with litigation in the Circuit Court.  The recommendations for technical revisions were developed by an EOBR Subcommittee of the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee.
  • Inclusion of HOS management system and supporting documents requirements – based on prior proposed rulemaking.  These include requirements that were identified in a 2011 proposed rulemaking that also defined an approach for ELD mandate.
  • Additional requirements as directed in MAP-21:
    • Security
    • Certification
    • Enforcement access
    • Privacy
    • Driver harassment/coercion
    • Supporting documents

The MAP-21 directive requires FMCSA to issue a final rule by October 1, 2013 and ensure that the mandate is in effect within two years. Currently, FMCSA estimates it will have a proposed rulemaking by mid-November 2013.

A realistic expected timeline for the ELD mandate rulemaking includes the following:

  • Proposed Rule: Nov. 18, 2013  (FMCSA target date)
    • Combines EOBR1 (395.16 & MCSAC report), EOBR2 (prior proposed rule on mandate and HOS management system), and MAP-21 mandate requirements
    • Policy issues including driver harassment/coercion, privacy, safety benefit analysis, and carrier functions for HOS compliance management
  • Final Rule:  Late 2014 – early 2015 (Preliminary estimate). 12 to 18 months is realistic timeframe from proposed to final rule
  • Implementation:  
    • Two-year window after final rule for mandate effective date
    • FMCSA to consider sunset period of 395.15-compliant systems installed prior to mandate effective date, and perhaps other extensions for implementation

FMCSA is also continuing to research driver harassment issues and is taking a fast track in developing a rulemaking to prohibit driver coercion related to any regulation. A proposed rulemaking on this is expected in late 2013.

Hours of Service Final Rule

On December 27, 2011, FMCSA published a new final rule for hours of service. The rule will be implemented in two parts:

Effective July 1, 2013:

  • Limitations will be applied on "34-hour restarts" to include: 
    • (1) restart period must include two periods of 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. home terminal time
    • (2) may only be used once per week. 
    • Currently, 34-hour restarts are not subject to any restrictions. Note that as part of MAP-21, Congress has directed FMCSA to conduct a field study on the safety impact of this rule change.
  • Rest breaks – drivers may drive only if 8 hours or less have passed since end of driver's last off-duty period of at least 30 minutes. [HM 397.5 mandatory "in attendance" time may be included in break if no other duties performed].  This is a new HOS requirement. 

Previous changes that took effect February 27, 2012 include:

  • "On duty time" definition is changed to recognize that time spent in a parked commercial vehicle may be recorded as off-duty,  and a driving team co-driver may be allowed up to 2 hours in the passenger seat in off-duty status if immediately before or after 8 consecutive hours in the sleeper berth.  Currently, all time in the vehicle is considered on duty except time in the sleeper berth. 
  • Egregious HOS violation is defined as 3 or more hours beyond the driving limit and is to be subject to maximum penalties.
  • Oil field exemption for waiting time as off-duty now requires waiting time to be shown on log as waiting time via remarks or separate line.

Not changed in the HOS final rule:

  • 11 hours driving per day.
  • 14 hour driving window per day.
  • 10 consecutive hours of rest per day (off-duty and/or sleeper berth).
  • Cumulative on duty not to exceed 60 hours per 7 day period and 70 hours per 8 day period on a continuous basis.

There is pending litigation for the HOS rule change or require additional rulemaking for HOS changes, including:

  • ATA litigation to stop new weekly reset (continue use of the 34 hour reset approach)
  • Public Citizen litigation to reduce driving time and limit weekly work hours

The Court has heard arguments in the case in April 2013 and will likely issue a ruling prior to the July 1, 2013 effective date.  In the meantime, however, the industry needs to prepare for the HOS rule change.

Policy Update on the Retention of Supporting Documents and the Use of Electronic Mobile Communications/Tracking Technology for HOS Compliance Review

July 2010: Effective Date

This policy update clarifies requirements for paper supporting documents to be retained with HOS records, and it provides additional guidance on a prior policy change to use electronic tracking records as supporting documents.

The policy to also apply electronic tracking records was initiated to provide enforcement with more visibility into discrepancies where paper logs do not match up with GPS location data and identified time and distance of vehicle travel.  More recently, FMCSA has also started to apply electronic tracking records in evaluating electronic log records, looking for data exceptions and discrepancies that indicate incomplete electronic log system records.

How to Prepare Your Business for HOS Compliance with Changing Regulations

For most carriers, electronic logs with EOBRs will be a big leap from manual logs, but nevertheless an important one from a safety and compliance perspective. While many carriers are contemplating the shift from manual logs to electronic logs, forward-looking carriers are adopting electronic logs so they'll be prepared when a mandate comes. Being compliant is paramount to carriers, but at the same time, many believe the technology will improve fleet productivity, safety, and their bottom line. Both EOBR regulation developments and CSA program rollout are initiatives that will serve to improve fleet safety. Where needed, they will also enforce remedial actions for carriers that are in violation or have demonstrated poor results with compliance management programs.

Start Preparing Today

Take advantage of Omnitracs' Hours of Service (HOS), an electronic on-board recording (EOBR) system for electronic driver logs that Omnitracs certifies is compliant with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation 49 CFR § 395.15. Leverage HOS to help maintain regulatory compliance, reduce potential inaccuracies and risk of violations associated with manual log systems.


  • Automatic near real-time updates about duty status, driving time, and remaining hours of service
  • Non-driving duty status changes entered through electronic forms on the driver display
  • Automatic near real-time notification of impending or actual violations to both drivers and dispatch
  • Web-based carrier review of driver status and availability
  • Driver-management and safety audit reports
  • Automated over-the-air updates to ensure compliance and driver awareness as Hours of Service and EOBR regulatory requirements reach their effective dates


  • Enables proactive actions to manage drivers who are having compliance issues
  • Helps avoid fines and other enforcement actions associated with CSA 2010 implementation
  • Supports individual and team drivers
  • Provides automatic response to requests for facsimile copies of records of duty status
  • Includes 24/7 hotline support for roadside inspection and audits
    • Hours of Service: Driver Acceptance

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DISCLAIMER : Due to the continuous changing nature of government regulations, it is impossible to guarantee the accuracy of the materials contained on this website and Omnitracs does not make any guarantee or warranty as to the materials being correct, complete or up-to-date. These materials are for informational purposes only, are not intended to be legal advice, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Omnitracs, Inc.

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HOS: Driver Acceptance