Pushing paperless - electronic data logging rules and how to deal with them

New ELD rules spell the end of the old log book.
Paul Miles segment manager, Trimble Field Service Management
August 20, 2018
By Paul Miles segment manager, Trimble Field Service Management
Everyone hates forced change, but the mandate for electronic logging devices in trucks is likely to benefit drivers and owners in the long run.
Everyone hates forced change, but the mandate for electronic logging devices in trucks is likely to benefit drivers and owners in the long run.
It has been almost a full year since the U.S. implemented its electronic logging device (ELD) and hours of service (HOS) mandate and now the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators (CCMTA) plans to roll out a similar mandate.

On Dec. 18 of last year the United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) instituted a mandate that requires motor carriers and drivers to retain supporting documents to verify their driving hours. But the biggest change the rule instituted is requiring drivers track their hours of service using an electronic logging device.

Understanding the Mandate
First, it’s important to know that the ELD mandate includes a number of provisions intended to help reduce crashes and bring everyone home safe at the end of a shift. The Canadian government also realizes that in order to support trade between the U.S. and Canada, it must take action.

The ELD mandate establishes the following:
  • Replacement of paper logs with a compliant ELD
  • A rule for the mandatory use of ELD by drivers that requires preparing HOS as a part of records of duty status
  • Standardized measures to address errors, logbook tampering and driver harassment
  • Requirements concerning HOS supporting documents
ELDs sync with a truck’s on-board systems to capture additional data points such as power status, motion status, miles driven and engine hours to demonstrate compliance. Under the mandate, all of this information should be available to authorized safety officials during roadside inspections and as part of on-site or other reviews.

CCMTA Timeline for Rentals
To accommodate the time required for carriers and other affected parties to implement the technology and train staff, the Canadian government has considered a two-year, phased-in compliance period. The Canadian ELD rule compliance deadline is 2020, when ELDs meeting National Safety Code technical standard become mandatory. The extended compliance date is 2022 for those already using ELD

At this point, it is unclear whether Canada will provide an additional grace period for rental and leasing companies. In the U.S., the Truck Renting and Leasing Association (TRALA) worked with the FMCSA to provide a 90-day waiver for short-term rentals, allowing companies to use paper logs to record HOS if the rental time frame is 30 days or less. Rental vehicle operators were required to print and carry the federal register in their vehicle at all times.



What Benefits will the ELD Mandate provide?
There are many benefits to drivers and rental companies implementing an ELD solution beyond merely being compliant. Transport Canada estimates the combined savings to be $255.4 million, annualized at $36.4 million. The cost savings and benefits are expected to come from a few different areas. One is benefit to the driver. Many drivers are used to relying on memory when filling out logs. With ELD, drivers no longer need to worry about recording their drive times – the ELD does this automatically for them. The ELD also gives the driver a clear display indicating how long they have been driving, how many hours of drive time they have left and when they need to take a break. This information is calculated automatically by the ELD and eliminates the need for drivers to spend time making calculations and verifying hours driven.

Another positive benefit is improvement to efficiency. With ELD, fleet supervisors and managers receive the logs of their drivers in real time and no longer have to wait for drivers to return from trips to hand them in. This information is stored in a database and the data can be used to monitor trends across the entire fleet even at different locations. ELD data is also useful in the event of an audit. Federal regulations require carriers to retain at least six months of logs for all drivers in the organization. ELD makes this easy and hassle-free.

Transport Canada expects to see fleet costs lowered by ELD because ELD helps to keep drivers safe and reduce costly incidents. Driver behavior can be monitored and drivers can be encouraged to support good habits that help to increase fuel efficiency, reduce idling time and improve overall utilization of the vehicle. It has been found that electronic logging devices can reduce traffic violations by as much as 35 per cent. In addition, ELD can save as much as 40 minutes per day for each driver, which can result in thousands of dollars per year in reduced costs.

Choosing an ELD
Because of the need for reliability and ease of use, dedicated hardware integrated with a fleet management system is the most common type of solution available today. The hardware is installed in the cab of the truck and includes a tablet for displaying hours of service information to the driver, including the number of hours driven, the on-duty hours recorded and the remaining available hours.  In addition, the tablet is connected via a wired or wireless connection to a telematics device in the truck, which is connected to the on-board vehicle systems.

When compared to a personal mobile device-based ELD solution, a dedicated hardware solution is more reliable, more rugged and is not reliant on a driver’s mobile device for communication. Data transmitted to the back office allows fleet managers, safety managers and dispatchers to review HOS information in near-real-time. When the vehicle is not in operation, dedicated solutions still provide drivers with flexibility and allow for extended productivity. Drivers may take the tablet outside the cab to perform walk-around vehicle inspections and complete proof-of-delivery forms.

Making the Transition
Transitioning your company from manual to electronic logging systems means more than simply changing or implementing the hardware and software. The change will affect most aspects of your company, including the culture. For this reason, leadership must establish a clear vision with a transparent implementation plan. Whether the plan unfolds all at once or is implemented in stages, it is essential that all involved parties are continually updated and informed of the process. Your ELD supplier should be able to provide advice as to how to achieve a successful rollout, and provide the necessary training and ongoing support.


Paul Miles is a segment manager with Trimble Field Service Management division. He can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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