All That's Trucking

ELDs So Far: Stories From the Road

Blog commentary by Deborah Lockridge, Editor in Chief

January 26, 2018

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One small fleet just bought this 1988 Kenworth cabover, once featured as a trucking mag centerfold, because it is exempt from the ELD mandate.
One small fleet just bought this 1988 Kenworth cabover, once featured as a trucking mag centerfold, because it is exempt from the ELD mandate.

It’s been a little over a month since the electronic logging device mandate went into effect, and the transition appears to be a bit bumpy. It’s a good thing CVSA and FMCSA delayed out-of-service orders or CSA points till April 1, but fines are still a possibility in some areas – and frustration is a certainty in many.

FMCSA has been granting waivers, exemptions and delays to various fleets and specialty groups to help them through the transition.

For instance, Old Dominion Freight Line and other PeopleNet customers got a 90-day grace period to help with their transition. ODFL been running the company’s AOBRDs since 2011, but needed some time to deal with back-office issues relating to grandfathered AOBRDs and new ELDs.

As PeopleNet explained, the reason behind the waiver was to address a portion of the grandfather clause, which states that if a fleet were to add any trucks between now and 2019, they must use an ELD, not an AOBRD. 

The waiver gives PeopleNet customers who integrate their existing AOBRDs to fleet management and safety systems until March 18, 2018, to continue to install ELD-compatible devices running AOBRD software on any truck added to their fleet. This helps customers avoid a scenario of a “mixed fleet” – consisting of both AOBRDs and ELDs –which can pose safety and operational challenges, both for drivers as well as critical back-office integrations.

ELD confusion and frustration

J.J. Keller, meanwhile, reports confusion during roadside inspections about whether devices are ELDs or AOBRDs, and either failure of devices to transfer HOS data to enforcement or officers expecting AOBRDs to transfer data, which they aren’t required to do.

And in fact, a recent post on Facebook’s ELD or Me group by a driver showed a citation for “operating with a device that is not registered with FMCSA; ELD unable to transmitted [sic] logs- ELD unable to email or up load logs to FMCSA.” The driver says he is using a grandfathered Garmin AOBRD.

Based on anecdotal reports and off-the-record comments, some ELD providers’ help desks were overwhelmed by all the questions and difficulties users were having. While many were user error or confusion rather than any problem with the devices themselves, it still meant a lot of frustrated users.

An eight-truck flatbed fleet owner told me their biggest problem has been poor connectivity between its tablets and the cloud-based app. “Even from major truck stops in big cities when our device is showing 2 or 3 bars.”

Some drivers are outright refusing to comply. If you check out the ELD or Me group on Facebook, drivers are traveling back roads to avoid weigh stations and inspections. One driver who called me said ELDs are literally the devil’s work – that the prince of darkness himself will use them (along with computers and the Internet; wonder if he was calling me on a smartphone?) to control those left behind after the rapture. I guess some of them are still hoping for a last-minute reprieve before out-of-service and CSA point penalties go into effect April 1. If they don’t get it, I expect some will exit the business at that point. So we likely haven’t seen the full effect of the driver shortage yet.

One small fleet's ELD experience

Wade Haught, president of LTG Transportation, a small fleet of four owner-operator trucks, shared with me via e-mail last month his frustrating experience in trying to get ELDs.

“We were already using a company called National Fleet Tracking to do GPS tracking of our tractors and trailers in our heavy haul operation. This was good for tracking as well as fuel tax reporting. We went with National Fleet Tracking for our ELDs also. The first time they shipped the units to us, they had to recall them because of a software problem. The second time they shipped the units to us, they had to recall them because of a hardware problem. We finally got the third set of units a week before the deadline, only to discover that they also were being recalled. Turns out the manufacturer could not produce working units and did not know when it would be able to do so, even though they were on the federal list of approved units. National Fleet Tracking apologized and suggested that we obtain ELDs from another provider.”

So they scrambled and ordered four units from KeepTruckin. They were still waiting for them when the deadline came, so I followed up with Haught this week. One driver has installed the new ELD and has been using it without any issues. A second driver sold his 2011 Peterbilt and will soon start driving a 1988 Kenworth K100 cabover, exempt from the ELD regs, leased to him by the fleet owner. A third driver has his ELD with him but has no plans to install it until full enforcement begins in the spring. And Haught himself?

“I drive the fourth truck, which is a 2012 Volvo that I have had completely rebuilt. Even though the dealer did all of the work at great expense and it is all under warranty, they cannot keep the truck running and it has been in the shop since early December. When it eventually comes out of the shop, I will probably sell it and purchase an older tractor to avoid the ELD requirement – AND to have a reliable tractor. If I cannot find an acceptable older truck, then I will go purchase a new Peterbilt and install the ELD.”

Why the new Pete? Because he can drive it faster. In fact I’m hearing from a number of smaller operators that they’re upping their speed to compensate for lost productivity.

“My general impression is that we and many other owner-operators will change our driving strategy from fuel conservation to high speed driving and raise our rates,” Haught told me. And another, larger fleet I talked with said they were raising the limit on their governed trucks by a few mph.

It’s the law of unintended consequences. If the ELD mandate results in higher truck speeds across the board, will we see FMCSA revisit the idea of mandatory speed limiters? Will truckers turning to older trucks to gain exemptions derail progress toward cutting greenhouse gas emissions? Stay tuned.

Updated 1/31/2018 to add clarification from PeopleNet on the temporary exemption issued for ODFL and other customers.

Note: CVSA last month put out an ELD bulletin for enforcement officials. It includes a table showing the driver’s and officer’s responsibilities for transferring records of duty status (hours of service/logbook) data during an inspection. You'll find it at


  1. 1. John Baxter [ January 27, 2018 @ 01:48PM ]

    Hmmm. You do have to wonder if what we need is some sort of clearing-house entity that would try to coordinate the creation of regulations designed to meet the conflicting goals government lays on truckers. Nobody is in charge of the store!

  2. 2. Steve [ January 29, 2018 @ 03:17AM ]

    ELDs are the best way to destroy America......A Terrorist's Wet Dream

  3. 3. Steve Mehal [ January 29, 2018 @ 03:47AM ]

    It amazes me how many companies waited until the last minute to purchase ELD's. They could have saved a lot of confusion and frustration by purchasing them 6 months ago and easing into it like our company did. I'm not a proponent for ELD's but unfortunately they're here.....

  4. 4. Marvin [ January 29, 2018 @ 05:19AM ]

    As always with government mandates, it won't matter how many problems exist or how much money is spent, or lost. Too much money has changed hands in this quest to control small fleets and O/O's to turn back now. It's been clearly displayed since the rollout that not much long term thought and planning were used. Having ELD's that are "self-certified" is absurd at best and handing out exemptions displays the inability to comply with the mandate. They can't even use data or information of how ELD's actually provide the safety we're being told they do because the fleets that currently use ELD's have some of the lowest safety ratings on our highways. Nevertheless, as with any government mandate, "here's the rule figure out how to comply" .

  5. 5. Kenny Scott [ January 29, 2018 @ 05:36AM ]

    A few weeks ago I experienced the dangers of ELD. A small winter storm in Tn produce over 30 rigs crashed and many cars. I witness a 8 truck wipe out by eld using companies running to fast, but we all know what that is about. I it is clear that speed limiters have to be used in conjunction with eld. It is a race track out here. LTL compamines have cranked them up along with many other companies and they just don’t have the drivers to handle speed. This will be a record crash year with the good economic conditions , eld and a bad hos. The highly educated stupid will kill us all if we yet them. Thank God I don’t have to use eld. I rest when needed eat where I want and go to the bathroom when I need. Isn’t that the way it should be FMCSa

  6. 6. Jeff Clark [ January 29, 2018 @ 06:14AM ]

    No problem. Didn’t wait until the last minute.

  7. 7. Marvin [ January 29, 2018 @ 07:19AM ]

    Good for you Jeff! Looks like a perfect world for you doesn't it? Apparently you've never been, or never will be delayed in traffic, shipper/receiver dock, storm, or never get tired during a run. You've missed the point of the article because your sarcasm is on display. You've had "no problems" therefore everyone else is a dumb-ass.

  8. 8. Jeff Clark [ January 29, 2018 @ 08:28AM ]

    I have been in the business for over 30 years. Lots of different things have happened. Even been inspected 5 days after going over my 14 with an ELD. It happens. Write it up in the remarks section. Get a clean inspection. Most of the problems listed in this article were caused by procrastination. I have been on an AOBRD/ELD for over 5 years. It has never been a problem.

  9. 9. Bradley [ January 29, 2018 @ 05:12PM ]

    You may have been in the business for 30 years Jeff, but have you ever been an o/o?
    No dispatch to get you loads and set up all your load and unload times. Someone else to make all your calls and find somewhere to have repairs done. Basically, have you ever done ALL of it on your own or have you always had someone else do it all for you? If not, try it all on your own and then see where you stand.

  10. 10. Jeff Clark [ January 29, 2018 @ 07:31PM ]

    I have been an owner operator for 17 years. I choose to lease on with a carrier. This business is full of choices. Each one has consequences and trade offs.

  11. 11. Hope [ January 31, 2018 @ 03:43AM ]

    Well guys I’m a female 25yr veteran of the business and in fact an owner operator. I’ve never gotten in a wreck I’m a safe and curtious driver. I’m now chasing the clock. I’m also older and sometimes I may need a nap from time to time. That can’t happen now. Once the time starts the race is on. What everyone is missing is that you can’t regulate the asses out. So now it’s going to be speeding. What’s next turning our trucks down to 60? Doctors aren’t as regulated as us drivers are. I sat 2 week with no Truck moving is all it will take and we can stop this craziness! I’m just saying!!

  12. 12. Marvin [ January 31, 2018 @ 05:16AM ]

    Sorry to break it to you Hope, but you're probably just a procrastinator too! Perhaps Jeff could help you out with some ideas on how to just shrug it off and roll with the flow. (Hope that didn't ruin your day or traumatize you)

  13. 13. Ray Puckett [ January 31, 2018 @ 06:39AM ]

    The professional driver has more negotiating power than any industry in America yet the general public, shippers, trucking companies and this big ole gubmint are granted the right of way to push the trucking industry anytime one or more of the highly educated movers and shakers decide to put some feathers in their caps regardless of economic impact or negative consequences in terms of public safety. A good example of this would be the 14 hour clock. The ELD mandate came about not because of true safety concerns but rather the software and computer companies lobbyist. The computer industry will certainly see their profit margins increase while the consumer pays for the extra cost at the check out lane. The real truth about the matter is the majority of those in powerful positions could care less about true safety. Money drives these type mandates by way of the lobbyist that trucking tycoons and in this case the computer industry use to get what they want. The trucker hasn’t seen the light or they too would have some paid representatives in Washington that had a passion for helping the driver. If the drivers could stick together, if, that is a hypothetical thought, to say the least but just imagine for a moment who would be running to the table to get them trucks to roll again if just 1/3 shut down for a week?

  14. 14. Marvin [ January 31, 2018 @ 07:20AM ]

    Well said Ray! It's never been about safety.....its about money and control! The data and information show that but it's never been in the discussion! I think that's what OOIDA's point has been. "The data and safety record of companies using the ELD's don't show any improvement in safety". It's proven that electronic devices are a great way to keep records but it's a huge leap to think that they make things safer. And safety was the largest selling point of the ELD's wasn't it?

  15. 15. Clifford Ellis [ February 01, 2018 @ 08:17PM ]

    The big problem is they all waited to the last minute to get a EL and there fighting it. They knew they had to have it why did they wait .I've been on them for 8 years and I do heavy haul and still run 600 to 700 miles a day and still be legal. The only way to stop the waiting to load is to hit the shippers and recivre where it hurts in there pocket book Make them pay no $ 60.00 per. hour but like $350.00 per. hour.

  16. 16. David Grago [ February 03, 2018 @ 03:14AM ]

    I'm not happy with the ELD it's the house arrest feeling where your confined to truck. The only way to get some type of a break and still get your miles in is if shippers and receivers or prompt (we all know that isn't happening) or your company is capable of drop and hook trailers which is about 3 trailers to 1 power unit so it's all driving time.
    The other thing is running out of time a hour or so from home and now you're home time is cut by at least 10 hrs but in reality it's longer and we all know that.
    I myself have been driving long and hard for my 35 years in trucking but when in traffic, towns and cities and most of all construction sites I slow down there is a time and place to use speed and push it a little the open road but newbies or greenhorns aren't conditioned for straight through work and mistakes are being made and that leads to accidents and deaths.


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Author Bio

Deborah Lockridge

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All That's Trucking blog is just that – the editor's take on anything and everything related to trucking, with the help of guest posts from other HDT editors. Author Deborah Lockridge's career as an award-winning trucking journalist started in 1990.


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