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Telematics-Driven Transformation: Part One—Telematics and the ELD Mandates: Beyond Compliance

Use of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) is mandated by law for most trucking fleets in the US and soon in Canada. Smart carriers and private fleet owners are figuring out how to leverage these mandatory investments to create new value, beyond merely complying with the law.

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This article is an excerpt from Telematics-Driven Transformation, available for free download here.

Telematics and ELD Mandates—Beyond Compliance

Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) have thrust telematics into the limelight due to federally-mandated adoption by US motor carriers and drivers, and soon by Canadian carriers as well. While owner-operators and many carriers, especially smaller ones, at first resisted implementation of mandated ELDs, smart carriers and fleet owners are figuring out how to leverage their investment in these devices to create considerable new value, once these systems are in place.

What Are ELDs and HOS?

An Electronic Logging Device (ELD) connects to a commercial motor vehicle to record the hours driven by each driver, to ensure compliance with Hours of Service (HOS) regulations. HOS regulations limit the number of hours per day and per week a driver can drive and define the minimum breaks and hours of rest between shifts. The main purpose of HOS is to reduce the number of accidents caused by driver fatigue. ELDs replace paper logs (which were less reliable) and older electronic devices (AOBDRs/EOBRs)1 previously used to record hours driven. ELDs use data from the vehicle’s ECU (Engine Control Unit) via the OBD-II (onboard diagnostics) or similar interface, combined with GPS data to reliably record when the vehicle is in motion and ensure that all hours driven are accurately accounted for.

Regulations require that ELDs:

  • Let drivers log in and set their status as on-duty, off-duty, sleeper berth, or on-duty not driving
  • Display a graphical grid showing Record of Duty Status (RODs)2
  • Provide RODs data to regulators and officers in a prescribed format

ELDs may provide other functionality above the minimum required by law. We further explore ELD functionality in part three of this series.

Figure 1.  ELD Information Collected Throughout the Daily Driving Cycle; May Be Stored in a Cloud System

US ELD Mandate Already in Force

In the MAP-21 Act, the US Congress mandated adoption of ELDs (Electronic Logging Devices) with the aim of improving safety and recordkeeping efficiency. The idea is that, compared to the traditional paper logs (which can be easily falsified), electronic logging of the actual hours a truck is driven will improve compliance with HOS (hours of service) rules and reduce the ad­min­istrative burden of paper recordkeeping.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued the ELD Final Rule3 on December 16, 2015. It requires all Commercial Motor Vehicle4 (CMV) carriers that operate across state lines to equip their vehicles with ELDs.5 As of December 18, 2017, CMVs can no longer use paper logs or logging software, but must use an ELD (or an AOBRD installed prior to 12/18/17). As of December 18, 2019, all AOBRDs are no longer allowed; only ELDs can be used.

Figure 2.  US ELD Rule Enforcement Timeline

  United States ELD Rule: The FMCSA’s ELD Final Rule (49 CFR Parts 385, 386, 390, and 395) requires ELDs on all commercial motor vehicles. The rule specifies:

  • The location of each vehicle must be recorded at least once an hour.
  • Carriers must maintain RODs,2 (Record of Duty Status), a recording of each driver’s status for every 24-hour period with driver’s name/ID, dates, locations, times, and driving status.
  • ELDs must be able to transmit RODs data using either a telematics approach (web services or email) or a local approach (Bluetooth or USB) in a FMCSA-defined standard format.
  • Carriers must retain, for six months, supporting documents containing information to verify the RODs, such as bill-of-ladings or other documents specifying origins and destinations, dispatch records, expense receipts, mobile communications (text, email, etc.), and payroll records.
  • Carriers cannot pressure drivers to violate regulations.
  • ELDs must be mutable when the driver is sleeping in the berth.
  • If an ELD malfunctions, it must be repaired within eight days and drivers must immediately reconstruct on a paper log the last seven days of driving, unless that data can still be retrieved or was already sent.
  • Drivers can make edits or annotations to records, but the original record must still be maintained.
  • Manufacturers of ELDs must test and certify their devices against the FMCSA-defined standards.

Canadian ELD Mandate Enforcement Imminent

In December 2017, Transport Canada published the proposed ELD mandate, similar to the US rule. The enormous volume of cross-border trade between Canada and the US (almost $700B per year)—and the correspondingly large number of trucks operating in both countries—provides motivation to keep the Canadian requirements similar to the existing US regulations, so that cross-border carriers and fleet owners can more easily comply with both countries’ regulations.

The final rule was published on June 13, 2019. The rule requires carriers to implement6 ELDs by June 12, 2021. There is no additional transitional period for drivers and vehicles already using ERDs, as there was in the 2017 draft rule. Vehicles with existing AOBRD/ERD devices must meet the same 2021 deadline as those currently using paper logs.

Figure 3.  Timing for the Canadian ELD Rule

  The Canadian rule: Has a number of similarities and differences from the US rule, as shown below:


  • Enforcement two years after publication of final rule.
  • The ELD interfaces with the OBD-II port of the vehicle’s engine.
  • The ELD provides GPS tracking. Drivers login to the device and set/change their status.
  • Devices automatically capture driving time, including when the vehicle is moving and the driver is not logged in.
  • The ELD allows special driving statuses—Yard Move (YM) and Personal Conveyance (PC)—that are not counted toward hours of service.
  • Drivers are able to check, edit, and annotate logs, but cannot delete the original log.
  • An on-screen display presents information for roadside inspection by officers and regulators.
  • Both ELDs can generate an output file for inspectors, but the formats are different.
  • Pre-2000 vehicles are exempt.

  Canada’s Differences from US
  • US enforcement started in 2017. Enforcement in Canada starts in 2021.
  • Canada has no additional grandfather period, after the 2021 date, for preexisting devices.
  • No central system for inspectors to use at roadside like the US’s eRODS system. Each province will have their own inspection mechanism.
  • Does not require capturing the VIN number.
  • US ELD manufacturers self-register/certify. Canadian ELDs must be certified by independent testers.
  • ELD must accurately track deferred Off-Duty time.
  • ELD must allow entry of hours captured elsewhere (such as, driving done for another company).
  • May email logs to an officer’s email to view during an inspection (province-specific).
  • ELD must allow drivers to switch between HOS rulesets (e.g. US vs. Canada, property-carry­ing vs. people-carrying, different cycles, time zones).
  • Exemption for rental vehicles used less than 30 days.

Table 1— Similarities and Differences Between US and Canadian ELD Mandates

In Part Two of this article series, we examine some best practices for complying and realizing value.


1 AOBDRs (Automatic On Board Recording Device) and EOBRs (Electronic On Board Recording) refer to older recording devices that predate the ELD mandates and specifications. These are compliant in the US until December 16, 2019. -- Return to article text above

2 RODs (Record of Duty Status) are a recording of each drivers’ status accounting for 24 hours each day. Status may be on-duty, off-duty, sleeper berth, or on-duty not driving. For more details, see pages 18-20 of the Interstate Truck Driver’s Guide to Hours of Service. -- Return to article text above

3 The full text of the ELD Final Rule can be found here. -- Return to article text above

4 The FMCSA defines a commercial motor vehicle as any vehicle with a gross vehicle (or combination) weight rating greater than 10,000 lbs., or designed to transport 9 to 15 passengers for compensation, or any vehicle designed to transport over 16 passengers; or any size vehicle used to transport hazardous materials. -- Return to article text above

5 There are exemptions for vehicles older than model year 2000, driveaway-towaway operations, and drivers who maintain duty status logs for eight or less days during any 30-day period. -- Return to article text above

6 This includes selecting, acquiring, and installing the ELDs, as well as testing and training drivers on using them. -- Return to article text above

To view other articles from this issue of the brief, click here.

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