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  • Henry Seaton

FMCSA issues final rule on ELDs

Drivers who currently must maintain paper logs for hours-of-service compliance will be required to use electronic logging devices (ELDs) instead under a final rule announced Dec. 10 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Carriers that already use electronic logs under today's Automatic Onboard Recording Device (AOBRD) standard will be able to continue using those devices for another two years -- i.e., four years from when the rule is published in the Federal Register -- before upgrading to ELDs meeting the new standard.

In addition to mandating ELDs for certain drivers, the new rule adopts procedural and technical provisions aimed at ensuring that ELDs are not used to harass commercial drivers and establishes new technical specifications for electronic logs. The rule also clarifies supporting documents requirements.

The final rule provides limited exceptions to the ELD mandate. As originally proposed, the rule applies only to drivers and carriers who are already required to prepare and maintain use records of duty status; drivers who use timecards for HOS compliance will not be required to use ELDs. In addition, the following drivers will not be required to use ELDs and may continue to use paper logs:

  • Drivers who use paper RODS for not more than 8 days during any 30 day period.

  • Drivers who conduct driveaway-towaway operations, where the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered.

  • Drivers of vehicles manufactured before model year 2000.

The final rule is mostly unchanged from the supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking that FMCSA issued in March 2015. Key changes to the rule are in four areas:

  • Documents requirements. Drivers now have 13 days to submit logs and supporting documents rather than 8 days as proposed. Also, the maximum number of supporting documents that must be retained has been lowered from 10 in the SNPRM to 8 in the final rule.

  • Technical specifications. To ensure that roadside inspectors will always be able to view logs, the final rule requires that ELDs be able to either display or print out records of duty status. Also, two of the options for the required electronic data transfer included in the SNPRM -- QR codes and TransferJet -- have been removed. Electronic data transfer must be made by either (1) wireless Web services and email or (2) Bluetooth and USB 2.0.

  • Exemptions. FMCSA added to exceptions to the ELD mandate: Drivers of CMVs that are older than model year 2000 and driveaway-towaway operations in cases where the vehicle driven is part of the shipment.

  • ELD certification. To make sure that ELD providers are treated fairly, FMCSA has added procedures to review compliance before it removes an ELD model from its list of ceritified products.

A number of the provisions in the final rule address driver harassment in response to an August 2011 decision by a federal appeals court striking down an earlier rule on electronic logs. In the rule, FMCSA explicitly prohibits a motor carrier from harassing a driver, and provides that a driver may file a written complaint if the driver was subject to harassment. The agency also adopts technical provisions that address harassment, including a mute function to ensure that a driver is not interrupted in the sleeper berth. Also, the design of the ELD allows only limited edits of an ELD record by both the driver and the motor carrier’s agents. In either case the original record generated by the device cannot be changed -- a measure aimed at protection the driver’s logs from manipulation.

For a copy of the final ELD rule, click here.

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