Understanding the Facts and Requirements of Electronic Log Compliance
Electronic logs are a part of everyday trucking, but do you know what that means? Find out more about the ELD mandate in the US and how you can stay compliant.
Electronic logs are required for all commercial fleet vehicles on the road today, with certain exceptions and deadline extensions made for companies working toward compliance. This mandate changes the way that truckers and other commercial drivers do their job because it keeps every single minute and mile tracked in an electronic record. The goal was to streamline logging and improve the safety of the trucking industry, ensuring that drivers weren’t driving too much or falsifying their handwritten logs, which was a common practice in years past.
- What Is the ELD Mandate?
- The Benefits of Electronic Log Devices
- Best ELDs Available Today
- Garmin eLog, Compliant Electronic Logging Device (ELD)
- My20 ELD (Electronic Logging Device)
- GPSit1000BZL LTE Vehicle Tracking Device with 1 Year Service
- EZ-ELD Solution Electronic Logging Device
- Choosing Your New ELD
What Is the ELD Mandate?
The Electronic Log Device mandate was issued by the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) back in 2015, with the compliance deadline initially set for 2017. By this time, all fleet vehicles were required to implement certified and approved ELDs, or Electronic Log Devices, to record their hours of operation on the road. There was an exception made for those who were already using on-board recording logs but needed some time to update their systems to new certified devices.
This rule is built on a serious of prior rules regarding electronic log tracking, which is where things can get muddy. Many trucks are using automatic on-board recording devices (AOBRDs) that are more like the black box on an airplane, recording the activity of the truck and driver for the day, which includes tracking duty status, mileage, hours, and other regulated activities.
These AOBRDs were approved for use through 2019 while fleets updated to new devices and systems, but now ELDs that include different features like mapping and route solution software to help with reducing traffic and construction delays are required for all drivers.
The Benefits of Electronic Log Devices
The ELD mandate may be a requirement, but that doesn’t mean that it is free of perks. In fact, several benefits have already been realized by those who comply with the US ELD statute, including:
- Reduced work hours due to paperwork. When everything is electronic, you don’t have to spend hours filling out papers by hand or filing things, tracking receipts and maps, and other hassles. There are so many steps that are removed by electronic logs that it’s saving all drivers a lot of time and giving them more time at home.
- Assists companies in staying informed on driver status. It helps the dispatcher prepare for loads and plan routes within HOS (Hours of Service) compliance. Knowing where drivers are at and what’s going on can be beneficial to the entire company in many ways.
- Eliminates the hassle of paper logs, including the piles of paperwork, having to obtain and save receipts, and other difficulties that the old system was known for. Electronic logs track everything automatically or offer easy user input in some cases, but either way, they are still much more efficient.
One of the biggest benefits of this mandate is that the FMCSA actually approved smartphones, tablets, and handheld devices to be used as a part of this system. Offering more device selection helps reduce the cost for companies and gives them an easier time complying with the regulations. To use these devices, of course, they must be certified ELDs that can connect directly to the vehicle through the diagnostic port or another hardwired connection and that are approved for use by the FMCSA.
Best ELDs Available Today
To help you get a better understanding of the available devices and the solutions that they offer, we’ve compiled a list of the best electronic log devices that are available for use and approved by the FMCSA for fleet vehicles and commercial drivers. We’ll explore their features and best assets and help you get a better idea of what’s available and see what is going to be most useful for your needs.
Garmin eLog, Compliant Electronic Logging Device (ELD)
The Garmin eLog is a secure electronic logging device that does not require a subscription. This complies with the ELD mandate and can record hours of service and other information for fleet vehicles. It can also store records securely on various devices, including a compatible smartphone. The information can be accessed from the USB port and through the Web Services application from the FMCSA, making it easy to keep track of.
The device is designed to be used with the Garmin eLog app, which is free to download to compatible Bluetooth and GPS-enabled tablets and smartphones, making it easy to setup monitoring and recordkeeping for any fleet. It works with 9-pin J1939 or 6-pin J1708 diagnostic ports, offering a solution for a variety of fleets and tracking needs.
- No subscription required
- From Garmin, a leader in GPS and electronic tracking technology
- Accessible via USB or Bluetooth
- Not compatible with OBD-II diagnostic ports
- Requires additional cable (sold separately) for Volvo or J1962 diagnostic port connections
My20 ELD (Electronic Logging Device)
The My20 ELD is getting a lot of attention for its affordable price tag and its premium rating. This DOT-certified device is also approved by the FMCSA for use in electronic log compliance and doesn’t require any additional hardware to operate. You can use the device with any smartphone or tablet that is Android or iOS-based,
This device is not much larger than a quarter, so it won’t take up a lot of space. Plus, it’s simple to install to a 9-pin ECM connection, with an adapter cable available (sold separately) for 6-pin and OBD-II ports. All you have to do is plug the device in, download the app and link your device via Bluetooth, and start logging trips. This device does require an annual subscription that must be prepaid a year at a time.
- Small size is ideal for minimal space or difficult-to-reach areas
- Low price makes it affordable for anyone
- Easy integration with any smartphone or tablet
- Requires subscription to My20 service
- May not work with all ports or vehicles
GPSit1000BZL LTE Vehicle Tracking Device with 1 Year Service
The GPSit1000BZL LTE Vehicle Tracking Device comes with a one-year prepaid subscription for service so that you can get started right away without any additional fees. This tracking device is also easy to integrate with any tablet or smart device and offers full compliance with the ELD laws for commercial fleet vehicles and drivers. There is a one-year warranty on hardware, giving you peace of mind in your decision.
This unit does require hardwired installation, but there are only three wires to connect to get the device up and running. The manufacturer sells an optional OBD-II adapter for those who don’t want to do the wiring, but that must be purchased separately. This device includes all hardware, software, and mobile access for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and other operating systems.
- One year of service included with purchase
- One-year warranty
- Includes hardware, software, and mobile access through an app
- Requires hardwired installation or purchase of an adapter
- Must pay for a subscription after the first year
EZ-ELD Solution Electronic Logging Device
The EZ-ELD Solution Electronic Logging Device is a compact device that delivers powerful performance. This ELD has three different adapters included, so that you have connections for a 6-pin, 9-pin, or OBD-II port. This device is FMCSA-compliant and includes tamper-resistant features to add security so that even if you’re changing vehicles, you can trust that your device is always secure.
There is a unique QR code “Scan and Drive” feature included with this device, which allows you to simply scan the QR code on the device itself when you get into the truck, and a free mobile app is available for Android and iOS. In the app, you’ll find a robust selection of features for monitoring and control, as well as fleet management tools that can help make any business more efficient. You can see vehicle information in real-time, including location, speed, fuel efficiency, and other elements, right from the software on any compatible device.
- Includes 4 adapters to ensure exact fit and ability to use device on multiple vehicles
- Easy setup and installation takes seconds (plug and play)
- Firmware updates automatically to ensure ongoing compliance
- Subscription required for each truck
- Some customers report frequent disconnections
Choosing Your New ELD
There are many different factors involved in choosing the right ELD, but compatibility and compliance are two critical items that should be on your list. Never look at an ELD that isn’t FMCSA-certified and compliant for commercial use, because you could be subject to fines or other consequences for using improper tracking tools even if you didn’t know any better.
Of course, some other factors should be involved in your decision. As you’ve seen in the products above, you’ll want to look at things like:
- What kind of connection(s) does it offer? All fleet vehicles are going to have different diagnostic port connections and hardwiring options, so you’ll need to make sure that you choose a device that is going to connect to your fleet vehicle(s), whether they are all the same or not. If you have a fleet with multiple types of connections, consider something like the ones listed above that offer adapters for various ports.
- Does it require a subscription? Most of the ELDs available today have a free app that is available for download through Android or iOS. However, there are some of these fleet solutions that require a monthly subscription to access the services provided by the device. It doesn’t matter whether you choose a subscription-based option, so long as you’re aware that this is an expense that you will incur.
- How much does it cost? When you’re trying to outfit an entire fleet, it can get expensive. You shouldn’t look at cost alone, but you do need to consider what you’re getting for the money and make sure that you are choosing an ELD that is a good value. At the very least, it should give you the most features for your money, even if you end up choosing a higher-priced model.
- What features and software are included? All these fleet solutions will have their own included software, firmware, and other features that will make using their ELDs much easier for any driver. Make sure that you’re taking advantage of this by choosing devices that come with all the software, hardware, and other resources that you need to get started right away. You don’t want to have to pay for an ELD and then spend a small fortune on other costs and solutions because they weren’t included, after all.
- Is it FMCSA-compliant? Although we already touched on this a bit above, it does deserve mentioning again. Any device that you intend on using for logging commercial driving activity has to be certified by the FMCSA to be compliant with the new ELD mandate.
Although there are no two devices that will work the same for everyone, any of the ELDs on this list will serve to offer a more affordable, efficient solution for compliance with the new mandate for commercial drivers in the United States. Make sure that you take the time to choose devices that are compliant and certified so that you are within the bounds of the law. That is always the first and most important place to start.
If, after learning about the new mandate and reviewing the devices here, you decide there might be something else out there to consider, be sure to keep the information you’ve learned here in mind. Although you want to find what’s best for your business, you also want to make sure that you are within the compliance of the law and using the best possible devices. Legal compliance is not an area where you want to try to cut corners, and with all the affordable devices available today, you no longer have to. Take advantage of that and find your new ELD solution today.