November 8, 2023

By: Knight Caye
Content Analyst / Marketing

Electronic logging device rules now govern most trucks operating commercially in the U.S. and Canada, but staying in compliance can be challenging. Detailed regulations cover who must follow ELD rules, who’s exempt, what types of devices to use, what documentation is needed, and what kind of information can and can not be collected.. In this blog, we’ll share introductory information on what carriers and drivers need to know about electronic logbook rules. First, we’ll cover the basics of the ELD rule. Then we’ll break down the key requirements for drivers and carriers in both the United States and Canada. Next, we’ll consider some of the challenges of navigating ELD rules, with some reallife examples. Finally, we’ll share some best practices to help drivers and carriers with compliance.

Understanding ELDs: The basics

Electronic Logging Devices (ELD), also known as electronic logs or elogs, are equipment that automatically record driving time in commercial motor vehicles. The device helps drivers and carriers comply with Hours of Service (HOS) requirements resulting in reduced fatigue, improved administrative efficiencies, and safer roads. These devices connect with commercial motor vehicles to monito and record the operation of the vehicle. Each driver has a unique account that helps ensure that driving time is accurately applied to the correct driver. They record data such as engine running time, vehicle location, mileage, and speed. Some ELDs may record additional data, such as idle time, vehicle diagnostics, and safety events. The information collected is used to create logs, called Records of Duty (RODS), documenting changes in driver duty status. ELDs can be devices specifically designed for electronic logging, or they can be applications on devices such as smartphones. ELD devices can be fixed in the cab or mobile. ELDs help trucking fleets comply with regulations governing RODS and HOS records. U.S. and Canadian laws require most motor carriers to use ELDs rather than paper logs, with some exemptions and exceptions. For instance, exemptions may apply to some drivers who only do short-haul routes, conduct tow operations, or operate older vehicleswith a model year earlier than 2000 as indicated in the vehicle identification number (VIN). Drivers may use paper logs for a limited number of days if an ELD is not functioning to allow time for the driver to communicate with the carrier, and the carrier time to repair or replace the device.

Key ELD requirements in the United States

Current ELD rules in the U.S. went into effect in December 2017 and have undergone minor updates since then. U.S. requirements include:

  • Mandate use of registered ELDs by commercial drivers and carriers subject to HOS rules who are required to maintain RODS Internal
  • Establish ELD performance and certification test criteria for ELD providers.
  • Require that only ELDs that are registered with the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) be used.
  • Identify supporting documents drivers and carriers must maintain and for how long.
  • Introduce technical functions in the device that are intended to help guard against harassment of a driver.

Exemptions may apply such as:

  • Carriers exempt from RODS requirements because they run shorthaul routes within 150 air miles of their base of operation
  • Drivers who only use paper RODS for no more than eight days within each 30-day period
  • Drivers conducting driveaway-towaway operations
  • Commercial vehicles with a model year before 2000

ELD devices must be selected from a list registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The FMCSA periodically adds and removes devices from the list and issues instructions on what motor carriers should do if they are using ELDs that are no longer registered. In cases where devices have known issues that cause them to malfunction, the FMCSA may allow motor carriers to temporarily maintain paper records until the service is repaired or device is replaced.

Drivers who use ELDs must carry ELD information packets that include:

  • An ELD user’s manual
  • An instruction sheet explaining ELD data transfer mechanisms and HOS records production procedures, as well as how to report ELD malfunctions and maintain HOS records during ELD malfunction
  • An eight-day supply of RODS paper graph-grids

Motor carriers must retain and back up ELD data for six months, with backups stored on separate devices. “A motor carrier must retain a driver’s ELD records so as to protect a driver’s privacy in a manner consistent with sound business practices.”

The federal ELD rules apply to interstate operations (drivers and carriers who operate across multiple jurisdictions (States). Intrastate or “in state operation” is governed by the state laws and regulations. In most cases, the state will incorporate by reference (adopt) the U.S. federal ELD requirements.

Key ELD requirements in Canada

Current Canadian ELD rules have been in effect since June 2021. The Canadian and U.S. rules are similar, but not the same. The ELD design and performance requirementsare defined by the CCMTA (Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators); Transport Canada defines the test criteria, and approves who can certify product; and independent accredited certification bodies Internal perform the testing and issue the certificates. Only ELDS certified by an approved accredited certification body can be sold in Canada.

Exemptions apply to:

  • Motor carriers who are exempt from RODS requirements because they operate within 160 kilometers of their home terminal and return there daily (traveling outside this radius at any time removes this exemption)
  • Commercial vehicles under rental agreements no longer than 30 days that is not an extended or renewed rental of the same vehicle;
  • Commercial motor vehicles operated by a motor carrier under a federal permits issued by provincial directors.
  • Commercial motor vehicles operated by a motor carrier under an exemption covered under section 16 of the Motor Vehicle Transport Act.
  • Commercial vehicles with a model year before 2000 ELD devices must be selected from a list of certified ELDs available from Transport Canada.

Motor carriers must retain ELD data for six months and present them when requested by law enforcement officials.

Navigating ELD compliance challenges

Trucking fleets may encounter many obstacles when pursuing ELD compliance. Here are some of the most common issues and some suggested fixes:

  • Device confusion: Some older electronic logging devices similar to ELDs, known as Automatic On-Board Recording Devices (AOBRDs), provide less data than ELDs and are not compliant with current ELD regulations. Drivers and carriers who are required to use ELDs can confirm the device is certified at these sites:
    Canada: List of electronic logging devices (
    United States: ELD – ELD List (
    Make sure your drivers are using the correct devices and understand the devices they’re using.
  • Device authorization recalls: The FMSCA and Transport Canada occasionally revoke registration recall for devices that have known issues. When choosing a new vendor, make sure their device is registered and approved for use. Periodically check the status of your vendor to verify their device remains approved.
  • Hours of service management policies: Before ELD compliance became mandatory, some fleets may have had policies that promoted off-duty driving. For example, dispatching schedules may lead drivers to run out of time to return to a safe parking space. Use automated route planning and dispatching to make sure you allow your drivers time to park and stay compliant with the off-duty requirements. Internal
  • Privacy regulations: ELD data collection is subject to privacy laws and regulations that limit what data may be collected. Check with your legal and tech teams to make sure you’re in compliance with privacy laws as well as ELD regulations. Avoid collecting data you don’t need, and review what data is being collected by your ELD provider and any third-party services you use.

Choosing the right vendor can help you greatly with navigating ELD compliance challenges. Look for a vendor that meets current regulatory requirements and provides transportation management system tools that can assist with compliance, such as hours of service management alerts.

Case studies: Real-world experiences in compliance

Case studies illustrate how selecting the right provider can help you manage compliance challenges. In one compliance case study, North Carolina trucking company Cargo Transporters saw a 75% decrease in over-hours violations after adopting the Omnitracs fleet management platform, dropping from 596 to 145 over eight months. In another instance, Indiana trucking fleet Fraley and Schilling needed to meet the new electronic log laws in time for the upcoming deadline. The first vendor the company tried did not meet its requirements, proving hard to implement and access. Switching to the Omnitracs Intelligent Vehicle Gateway (IVG) solution proved more satisfactory, with a beta test training of 50 drivers yielding efficient, swift implementation. Finally, New York distribution service Hill & Markes needed to upgrade from their aging solution. Adopting Omnitracs yielded a reduction in driver overtime between 11% and 15%. These real-world examples exemplify the compliance benefits fleets can realize with the right provider.

ELD best practices for carriers and drivers

You can achieve ELD compliance more efficiently by following proven best practices. Here are some keys to effective ELD implementation:

  • Audit your HOS reporting: Start by reviewing the efficiency of your existing HOS reporting procedures so you have a baseline when adopting an ELD.
  • Set compliance goals: Use your audit to establish key performance indicators and set compliance goals.
  • Create hours of service policies: To achieve your compliance goals, establish HOS policies that cover essential procedures such as monitoring, dispatching, restricting assignment hours within regulatory limits, and disciplining drivers for HOS violations.
  • Train drivers in ELD compliance: Include ELD training in your onboarding procedures for new drivers and provide periodic training for all drivers.
  • Analyze unassigned driving incidents: Look for contributing factors such as trucks being moved around without a logged in driver, such as yard jockeying or technician drive testing, and annotate those records. Ensure all unassigned driving is either annotated or assigned to a driver.
  • Automate dispatching and tracking: Use fleet management software to automate driver dispatching, proactive monitoring, and HOS alert procedures.

Embrace ELD rules for efficient operations

Electronic logging device regulations present some challenges, but embracing ELD rules can increase your operational efficiency. In addition to automating your compliance, ELD technology can help you plan routes and schedules more efficiently to decrease your fuel costs and save time and money. The Omnitracs platform provides solutions to help achieve regulatory compliance for your entire organization. We offer a variety of solutions to meet the needs of different fleets, all developed to meet the applicable laws and regulations to ensure compliance.

Learn more about our hours of service and ELD solutions to find the one that’s right for your fleet and other solutions provided by Solera Fleet Solutions – Solutions | Solera Inc

Disclaimer: The information provided in this communication does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. All information and content are for general informational purposes only.