The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) limits the amount of time a trucker can drive. These hours of service (HOS) regulations are intended to prevent driver fatigue and reduce the risk of accidents. In order to track HOS, trucking companies are required to use electronic logging devices (ELDs), with some exceptions. Electronic logs for truckers are sophisticated tools and many go beyond the basic FMCSA requirements and offer additional functions for safety and efficiency. It’s important to understand how these devices work and how to use them in order to avoid potential fines for violations.
What is an ELD?
An electronic log is a device that connects to a commercial motor vehicle (CMV) and tracks HOS. It uses GPS technology as well as a connection to the vehicle’s engine to determine when the truck is moving. It also collects information about location, which may be very exact or more general depending on the device.
How Records of Duty Status are Tracked
The log keeps records of duty status (RODS) that indicate whether the trucker was driving on-duty or off-duty during a given timeframe. To be FMCSA-compliant, an ELD must automatically record driving time. When the CMV is moving at 5 mile per hour (mph) or more, the log will set the status to driving. This cannot be altered by the driver or anyone else, although annotations can be added to explain unusual circumstances, such as driving in adverse conditions or during a drop-off.
When the vehicle registers as stopped for more than five minutes, it will prompt the driver to either confirm that they are still driving or to enter a different status. This can be on-duty not driving, off-duty, or sleeper berth. If they do not select an option within one minute, the status will automatically be set to on-duty not driving.
Auditing Electronic Log Data
At roadside inspections, the RODS stored in a trucker’s electronic log need to be transferred to the inspector or law enforcement officer. This can be done via Bluetooth, email, or USB. The inspector can see at a glance whether there are any violations within the past eight days.
Staying Compliant with HOS Rules
It is important that your company’s drivers and safety personnel understand how to operate your electronic logs and how to correctly record on-duty or off-duty status. Driving beyond the HOS limits set by the FMCSA can affect your compliance, safety, and accountability (CSA) score and can result in fines for both your carrier and the driver. These regulations were most recently updated in July 2020 .
ELD Audits by HDS Safety Services
We can help your company stay up to date with FMCSA requirements. We offer ELD auditing as well as HOS training for drivers and supervisors. With so many rules to keep track of, it can be extremely valuable to have a company on your side to help you stay safe and compliant.