Safety & Compliance

Get Ready to Say Goodbye to Paper Logs

FMCSA proposes mandatory electronic logging devices.

April 2014, - Feature

by Oliver Patton, Former Washington Editor - Also by this author

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After 28 years of proposals, studies, drafts, revisions, legal battles and technological innovations – not to mention an Act of Congress – federal regulators are close to requiring most interstate commercial drivers to keep track of their work hours with an electronic device.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s proposed electronic log mandate, published last month, addresses a broad range of issues but still must go through a comment period and faces possible legal challenges before it becomes final.

At the core of the 256-page proposal is the requirement that interstate drivers who fill out paper logs must eventually switch to electronic logs.
It also covers technical standards for the electronic logging devices, as they are now termed (or ELDs) and the supporting documents regulators need to confirm compliance. And it sets requirements to ensure that electronic logs are not used to harass drivers.

The agency will take comments on the proposal until about mid-May. After it reviews the comments and publishes a final rule, perhaps later this year, carriers will have two years to comply. Carriers that already have recording devices that meet current specifications would have an additional two years to bring their devices into compliance with the new specifications.

It remains to be seen how the various constituents will react.

While larger trucking companies generally support ELDs, they may have concerns about some of the technical details, the supporting documents requirements or the agency’s approach to grandfathering devices already in use.

Owner-operators have long opposed ELDs and may not be satisfied by the agency’s approach to harassment prevention.

The rule will apply to drivers who have to prepare paper logs. Drivers who don’t have to prepare logs may use the electronic devices but won’t have to. Drivers who use timecards will not have to use the devices. And drivers who use logs intermittently can stick with paper logs unless they use them more than eight days in 30 days.

Device details

The technical specifications spell out how ELDs should work.
The basic requirement is that the device record specific information – date, time, location, engine hours, mileage and driver, vehicle and carrier identification – and make it available to inspectors.

The driver must be identified by his full license number and the state where his license is issued.

The device has to be synchronized with the engine to record on/off status, the truck’s motion, mileage and engine hours.

The device will have to automatically record a driver’s change of duty and hourly status while the truck is moving. It also must track engine on/off, and the beginning and end of personal use or yard moves.

The agency is proposing that the devices use automatic positioning services: either the satellite-based Global Positioning System, land-based systems, or both.

Many carriers now have onboard information systems that warn the driver when he’s approaching his hourly limits, but the agency is not requiring that capability in its proposal.

The devices won’t have to print out the log, but may have that feature as an option. They will have to produce a graph grid of a driver’s daily duty status, either on a digital display unit or on a printout. This is the first time the agency has proposed using a printer, and it’s looking for comments on the costs and benefits of that approach.

The primary communications methods will be wireless web services, Bluetooth 2.1 or email. The backup will be wired USB 2.0 or scannable Quick Response code.

FMCSA is working with its state enforcement partners on a software system, eRODS, that will be the platform for transmitting and viewing the log data.
These requirements will be of particular interest to the enforcement community, which has expressed concern about how roadside inspectors will get access to the logs.

To guard against tampering, the device must not allow changes in original information about the driver’s records or in the source data streams that provide the information. It also must be able to check the integrity of the information.

Also, the device must be able to monitor and record compliance for malfunctions and inconsistencies.

The agency is proposing that the devices be certified by the manufacturer, and that certified devices be registered on the FMCSA website to make it easier for carriers to shop.

Harassment and more

The agency projects net annual benefits of about $454 million, based on an average annual cost of about $495 per truck for the device and services. It based its calculations on Omnitracs' MCP50 system, describing it as an appropriate example of the current state-of-the-art device, although it looked at other products as well.

Among the benefits are reduced paperwork costs for carriers – no more paper logs – as well as 1,425 fewer truck crashes and 20 fewer fatalities a year due to fatigue prevention, the agency said.

The supporting documents portion of the proposal eliminates the requirement that carriers keep paper that verifies driving time, since the electronic log takes care of that. It retains the requirement that carriers keep a variety of documents, ranging from bills of lading, dispatch records, expense receipts or payroll records.

The agency would prohibit carriers from using ELD information to harass drivers, and is proposing procedural and technical provisions to protect drivers from harassment.

For instance, the device must have a mute or low-volume capability so the carrier can’t interrupt a driver when he’s in the sleeper berth. And the driver would have to approve any changes the carrier makes in his data.

The agency plans to propose another rule to protect drivers from coercion by carriers, shippers, receivers or transportation intermediaries. This proposal, which is awaiting clearance at the White House Office of Management and Budget, will include ways for drivers to report coercion as well as penalties for violators.

Many trucking companies support electronic logging, and early reaction from the American Trucking Associations was generally positive.

“ATA supports FMCSA’s efforts to mandate these devices in commercial vehicles as a way to improve safety and compliance in the trucking industry and to level the playing field with thousands for fleets that have already voluntarily moved to this technology,” said President and CEO Bill Graves in a statement.

ATA Executive Vice President Dave Osiecki said he’s particularly pleased that the agency is proposing to allow paper printouts of logs, but not requiring their use.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which has long opposed ELDs, is taking a more cautious stance.

“The agency must address the serious safety issue of how (ELDs) are used to harass and coerce truck drivers into continuing to drive regardless of driving conditions,” said spokesperson Norita Taylor in a statement.

The group also is worried about some of the technical details and whether or not ELDs will improve safety, Taylor said.

“This is the first stage in the regulatory process for the agency’s latest attempt to craft a rule on this topic, and OOIDA and small business truckers will certainly be weighing in and providing comments,” she said.           


  1. 1. james graham [ April 19, 2014 @ 07:59AM ]

    I use paper logs and deliver bulk liquid chemicals. Last night,I made a delivery to a chemical plant that is well known for its excessive loading and unloading times. Another driver showed up with only45 minutes left on his ELD. He inform the dispatcher before the showed up for his apptonment. His delay was caused by the shipper. It took 3 hours for the receiver to unload his truck and they wouldn,t let him park for his 10 hours break on the plant. How does the regulations work in this case?

  2. 2. Lloyd.Williams [ April 19, 2014 @ 11:59AM ]

    The eobrs are a great thought to keep everyone on a level feild.They only talk about drivers or trucking companies having to pay when there are violations .My question is for those washington dummies who think they know it all.When are you going to put penalties on shippers receivers and brokers for setting ridiculous appointments and outrageous delays.Take care of that problem and the rest will follow.

  3. 3. Kathy [ April 19, 2014 @ 04:56PM ]

    I'll agree with the dummies in WA but it's never going to change because the
    WA dummies are only out for the big man us little companies that get no help. cuts or breaks get screwed everytime. Can't infere with the big man's money, after all. all the big companies can handle all the freight in the USA (they think) WA is nothing but a joke on all levels. if we put people in WA that is going to watch out for the small people it doesn't take them long till their on the take just like the rest, this is the dimisse of our country as we know it. MOney talks and little people get screwed every time.

  4. 4. William A.Sacks [ April 21, 2014 @ 02:12AM ]

    protect us from harassment?elds are harassmen,.the clock starts it does'nt stop although the driers tired ,they don't allow for a nap break.Tthe rules don't allow for weather,traffic construction etc.Y'all want hiway safety?try holding the general motoring public accountable for thier actions on the road,don't harass us truckers with elds that restrict us from doing our jobs and our earnings for our familys.Elds push truckers past thier limits to do thier jobs and thats not safety.I for one can't lay in that bunk for 8 hrs,and twiddle my thumbs for ten hrs.By that time i'm tired again.You people are making up rules and regs that hinder us more than it helps us,and you really don't know what it takes for us to do our job to keep america strong.I say NO ELDS NO FOURTEEN HR CLOCK WITH OUT SUFFICENT BREAK TIMES TO STOP THAT 'STUPID CLOCK ,AND ALLOW IN BETWEEN REST PERIODS.AND I ALSO SAY NO TO PEOPKE IN POSITIONS OF AUTHORITY TELLING US HOW TO DO OUR JOBS WHEN Y"ALL KNOW NOTHING OF WHAT IT TAKES."THERE ARE 2 INFINITES ,THE UNIERSE AND HUMAN STUPIDITY,AND I'M NOT SURE ABOUT THE UNIERSE"ALBERT EINSTIEN.

  5. 5. Mike [ April 21, 2014 @ 04:13AM ]

    What happened to our constitutional rights? It's a free world isn't it? Why do we have to have somebody monitoring and regulating our freedom? I am an independent O/O, I run every aspect of my business and now the FMCSA wants to tell me how to live my life. This is all BS and I think the government knows this but they want to blow smoke and gain control in the long run. LAND OF THE FREE AND HOME OF THE BRAVE! What gives the FMCSA the right to regulate our freedom?

  6. 6. Bob vogel [ April 21, 2014 @ 04:31AM ]

    The idiots in Washington don't have a clue what goes on out in the real world! They should be required to spend at least a week on the road before getting to make any regulations on anything. The only way this will work is to fine the shippers and receivers for anything over two hours and it will need to be a hefty fine for them to work! I for one can't wait to see how screwed up this will make the industry. I've been an oo for 15 yrs and if this goes into effect there will be a nice petrbulit for sale, I'm done. Going fishing! Good luck and be safe out there to all my fellow brother an sister drivers...

  7. 7. Steve [ April 21, 2014 @ 05:08AM ]

    Between ELD and Speed Limiters I hope you have a lot of Drivers in the wings. 50 t0 70 percent are tired of the Bull and will be leaving.

  8. 8. Steven [ April 21, 2014 @ 05:12AM ]

    Remember Communism is a Level Playing Field Also What a bunch of fools. More government Less Freedoms

  9. 9. Brian Loysen [ April 21, 2014 @ 05:19AM ]

    Here is my question and a JJ Keller salesrep brought it up...doesn't this force quite a few older trucks off the road? In my experience a well cared for older truck is an asset just like a newer vehicle
    So what is the cutoff year for a tractors then?
    For years the rumors have been the DOT wanted old trucks off the road and states like California have actively been freezing out trucks solely based upon age and their whims with the green movement.
    So the technology sector benefits....dealerships for vehicles in compliance benefit...and trucking get the eat the costs.
    Meanwhile...shippers and receivers still have no liability for being the biggest blight in this industry for wasting hours without compensating.

  10. 10. Keith D [ April 21, 2014 @ 08:35AM ]

    It has to be understood that the ATA is a friend only to and on behalf of the larger trucking companies.. thus the statement "level the playing field for those who are already using ELD's".
    Also, none of the entities involved with pushing this system understand the requirements of the transportation industry.. the receiver wants it yesterday but ordered it tomorrow and the shipper gets around to sending the day after it was supposed to be there... and who gets penalized the driver,,
    We as a whole now must sleep, eat, drive, fuel, load to a schedule that is not only controlled by outside entities with limited or no knowledge of the requirements but financed by PACs that desire only to protect their special interest constituents, aka the large trucking companies
    While I agree that there are those drivers and companies that will push beyond normal limits the majority of drivers know when they are tired and when they need to take a break without "nanny" telling them it is bed time.

    Many times drivers have to push the limit regardless of weather or traffic conditions due to the inability of these same enforcement groups to mandate reasonable loading and unloading times. This is more often the cause of driver hos violations than any other situation,

    We need to start paying drivers a reasonable hourly rate... not designated by the area in which we live but on a general consensus of what is required of us.. at any time we can lose our livelihood due to medical situations yet no one seems to think anything about the cause and effect of the business nor the long term effects to the economy.

    Drivers need to become more involved and start making a positive impact on those who would attempt to control our lives by using the same venues as the larger companies and calling upon their government reps to think before they act and not do the pass it to find out how it will work later mentality.

    Just some of my thoughts I could be wrong,

  11. 11. Paula Dmyterko [ April 23, 2014 @ 08:30AM ]

    The government has no idea what this law will bring. I'm guessing 30-40% of freight is delivered on time because of cheating on log books. If every driver drives legally, they will need a lot more trucks and drivers.
    Drivers sacrifice their health daily to make up for delays loading and unloading and traffic and weather and no parking and scale interruptions due to long lines.
    It's time for the ungrateful consumers to realize what that big truck in their way brings to their grocery store and gas station and local retailer.
    Run legal and let the whole country notice.

  12. 12. Steve [ April 23, 2014 @ 09:11AM ]

    I have a friend who has an old truck that he has driven for 25 years. He has NO electronic engine controls and also has an electric master switch on his batteries which he turns off when he is home for several days or even up to several weeks. When the switch is turned off he has NO electric power to ANY system on the truck. He does this to save his batteries from parasitic electrical discharges. How will the ELD be able to determine position and duty status when there is NO electricity on the truck at all?

  13. 13. Oliver B. Patton [ April 24, 2014 @ 06:17AM ]

    In response to Steve: I can say several things off the top of my head.

    First, we're a long way from a final rule and even longer from the start of an ELD mandate -- at least a couple of years. So your friend's truck will be at least 27 years old by the time he has to do anything. Could it be time for a new truck? Not anyone's place to say but his, of course, but just asking.

    Second, and this is a layman's understanding of the proposal, it does not sound like his truck will meet the requirements of the rule as proposed. I don't think the ELD has to have power when the engine is off, but it does have to be synchronized with the engine and if he has no electronic engine controls then that link is not there. Maybe it's possible to retrofit an electronic control module. Or replace the engine. Or replace the truck.

    Third, the comment period is open. I suggest you urge your friend to explain the issue to FMCSA in a comment, spelling out all the details. Might not come to anything, but then again maybe it will.

  14. 14. Skip layne [ April 27, 2014 @ 07:19AM ]

    Good morning all , this is what I know about e-logs. Even if u kill your batteries to save them , when u turn them back on the e-machine re-fires back up and the GPS system inside , knows, if you have moved the truck and will be added to the log report ..... It has a off duty driving mode were you can go let's say to the store/bar etc etc but to restart your driving day u must have been off / sleep for 10 and BE BACK at the same spot as to were u showed off duty , the off duty driving for one company I worked for was 25 miles
    A few tricks were if u drove under 5mph it would scream at u for doing so but the log wouldn't change .. BUT if u drove over the 5mph it would log - on duty driving and not show ur PTI

  15. 15. lastgoodusername [ April 27, 2014 @ 04:47PM ]

    sounds great, can't what to see how this turns out. all of trucking's owes and worries will be gone. queen anne has waved her magic wand and all will be well in the kingdom. if you are a owner of an ata or trucker's alliance company, you should be very proud of yourself. bless all the stupid people like me, who try to make a living, not a killing in this cocked up industry.

  16. 16. peter [ April 30, 2014 @ 01:44AM ]

    Modern slavery!!! we(drivers) are lynch by FMCSA(regulations), DOT(violation), SHIPPERS &RECEIVER'S(penalty), LEGISLATION (lobbys), so I'm asking what else? America.Create a mechanicaly driving robots because I,m not become one.

  17. 17. MIKE MOSELEY [ May 01, 2014 @ 06:52AM ]

    Two problems I c.freight rates going through the roof.The safety part,will b out the window,Every truck will b in such a hurry to deliver, I think it will b a mad house on highway,road rage will take over,no place to park.wat happens if u get in city run out of hours,yr in bad part of town,they will say u should of planed better ,that;s fine,wen u get held up by ship/rec, not a lot u can do,I ran ny/bost ,for years its all about timing,yr on elog ,yr at mercy of log .I think it will b a night mare,21 yrs o/o,u don't have tyo run hard,U just need more money,thyats the key gentlemen,When it goes in to place no problem,it will just cost more,thank u,fmcsa

  18. 18. Big Yellower [ May 03, 2014 @ 12:34PM ]

    My concern is in Ontario Canada they tried the CPU monitoring for speed etc. and fried several trucks CPU's when hooked up to rig.
    The ironical things is you have to be ASE certified mechanic to even tinkered with CPU.
    Besides personal use is ok like adding a bully dog monitoring system.
    What I've been told the CPU is very sensitive.
    To much power from exterior source will fry the CPU.. Anyways what business is for DOT to know how the truck performs. All computer systems have back doors..

  19. 19. Jason [ May 04, 2014 @ 07:16AM ]

    It has nothing to do with safety and 100% with the government wanting to monitor everything you do and everywhere you go.
    The same reason you cannot buy a new vehicle without something they can plug into to tell them how you have driven it and where if you have onstar.

  20. 20. Jeff [ May 04, 2014 @ 07:15PM ]

    I work in the roofing industry our company requires paper logs. We load and unload our own trucks sometimes moving into multi trucks how is eld going to keep track of our times

  21. 21. joe [ May 06, 2014 @ 05:20PM ]


  22. 22. Linda S Pickett [ May 06, 2014 @ 05:34PM ]

    As a driver of almost 19 yrs. I find that more regulation takes the choice of the driver to say, Hey I'm tired I need a nap. You have to keep going because of the 14 hour rule. They are constantly trying to stop you going on or stopping. You can't stop because you have a delivery that is sometimes farther than time to make. I was once given a load with a delivery with a time limit we couldn't make. We were a team. The dispatcher said but there are two of you. I told her only one of us can drive at a time. It was like a 100 mph time in a 62 mph truck. Until all drivers stand up to unreasonable regulations it won't change.

  23. 23. Joe The Trucker [ May 10, 2014 @ 12:16PM ]

    Everyone keeps talking about the "DRIVER SHORTAGE" Why can't Washington FMCSA figure this out, very simple, OVER REGULATION!!! Who in their right mind would want to enter into a industry, that watches every minute of your day, has more rules and regulations then any other industry in this country, not to mention, that every time you cross a Stateline, you under more or different laws, and are subject to more harassment by Police that have the term, IN the Name of Safety, backing the rules and regulations. Why do you think there is a driver shortage?? I delivered to UNFI, York, Pa the other night, had to stand in line for over an hour, to deal with a very slow, very uninterested young lady, who I wondered how did she get her job, being so stupid? Just to check in, then was charged $312.75 to have their freight unloaded off of my trailer, then had to stand in line, for another hour, to get my paperwork. If I had to use Electronic Log Books, I just wasted nearly five hours, of unproductive time. Washington FMCSA needs to stop wasting our time, and stop having the Insurance Lobbyist stick their studies and noses into our lives.
    I have 2 1/2 years to go to retirement, THANK GOD!!! It should coincide with the implementation of ELD's 36 Years on the road, the last ten years has been a nightmare

  24. 24. trent smidt [ December 21, 2014 @ 04:18PM ]

    I read all comments that were posted and cant agree more you guys.

  25. 25. Big Yellower [ January 02, 2015 @ 04:31AM ]

    Why does Fmsca need to know how your trucks runs . Last time I checked DOT Officers aren't certified mechanics.. Anyways I think GPS should be sufficient.. Causes if you operate in the cold north of the US or Canada the rig is going to be on 24/7. If you don't got APU tech or bunk/ engine block heaters. What if rig is down for maintence and needs to be test driven for several miles. If they want a data recorder it needs an maintence off switch. Anyways if everyone is using a "ELD" they won't be able to get any violations. Since all the systems got back doors to fix errors..

  26. 26. mj [ January 09, 2015 @ 10:27AM ]

    If the ELD's are installed in units over 26,000lbs only, then our divers will still need to do logs for all the trucks between 10001 and 26000lbs so they have 7 days on them at all times. They drive all different size trucks throughout the day. So in our case, e-logs will only add another item to the daily monitoring duties.. prertrip-post trip-logging-ifta-bill of lading etc..

  27. 27. Dan [ April 16, 2015 @ 01:54AM ]

    Sounds like to me these companies that make ELD's are paying off our "friends" in Washington, its how Governments work. The ELD's force drivers to drive tired, once you start your clock you cant stop it, if you didn't sleep good at the noisy truck stop during your 10 hrs. You can't stop later in the day to take a extended break without burning up you 14 hrs.

  28. 28. Rr [ July 25, 2015 @ 10:12PM ]

    You guys just dont want to stop cheating on your logs.thats what it comes down to.

  29. 29. Edward Lester [ December 25, 2015 @ 05:45PM ]

    To Rr: I drive legal, don't cheat, as you call it. If FMCSA knew what they were doing we wouldn't have to wonder what legal is this particular week. After 20 years of changes that I have endured they are coming up with yet another "final" solution. Anthony Fox (Trans. Sec'y) and Bill Graves (ATA) speak with one voice? Yes they do and their lips are moving! You should know what that means!

  30. 30. Al [ December 28, 2015 @ 06:38AM ]

    To Rr. Ok, drivers on paper logs can cheat, more often that not to improve safety, like avoiding busy rush hours, taking a nap when they feel they need one, and still be able to keep appointments . Not too many drivers cheat to drive over 11 hours, that's something DOT can easily catch, but rearranging rest periods acording to how driver feels improves safety. Why do they need to mess with drivers more, in 10 years or so computers will drive trucks, leave paper logs in place till then.

  31. 31. Bruce [ December 31, 2015 @ 08:32PM ]

    What about all the cars travelling they drive tired and more then 11 hour with out sleep and cause wreck the constitution said we are all equal well give them elogs to be fair and shut down all D.O.T scale houses we will not need to waste are time on are elog with them being we can't so called cheat anymore be fair we drivers keep the stores stocked

  32. 32. Mike [ March 10, 2016 @ 09:18AM ]

    These guys on computer logs are just to lazy to fill out paper logs and too lazy to learn how is they don't know how to fill out paper logs. I've seen more wrecks over guys pushing it with the ELDS logs once you start you can't stop you have to go until your 11 or 14 is up. The older fellas out there that don't spit log will drive 5 - 6 hrs take a few hrs off then hit it again. Might not look legel but they make it work. There the ones who built this country u.s. younger guys will be the ones to rip it down. Pat yourselves on the back good job , sell outs.

  33. 33. Jay [ July 14, 2016 @ 02:49AM ]

    I'm sick of this shit foreal let us fucking drive

  34. 34. Robert Cecil [ July 19, 2016 @ 07:03PM ]

    If drivers did not violate dot or hos rules or laws we would n9t have this. You caused this, live with it

  35. 35. Kevin Sinitski [ April 25, 2017 @ 10:49PM ]

    What about all the carriers that now will not lease old trucks because they can not install electronic logs on them example Landstar ect

    I'm basically out of work with a beautiful 92 GMC White unless I get my own authority.

  36. 36. Chavez [ May 17, 2017 @ 06:12AM ]

    To all drivers I'll propose, to go on strike for a week, and tell them to move the load themselves, it takes 3 days for food to be out of stores shelfs it will be the only way they realize they are making the wrong decision, am concerned about my safety when it comes to electronic logs there has been times that I have gone through a town that has not one truck stop in 100 miles and I think about what if my time on the e.log runs out and I have no choice than to stop in the middle of nowhere where with no bathrooms, I'll be taking a shit by the bushes and dear Congress you guys can send someone to pick it up .

  37. 37. Craig Gresham [ December 27, 2017 @ 12:30PM ]

    Strike for less than a week ALL TRUCK DRIVERS & see FMCSA Rreconcider the ELD’s real quick! 1425 less crashes & 20 less fatalities were numbers pulled out of the air. Keep the paper logs going!💪🏼🚛👍🏼


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