What is ELD(Electronic Logging Device)? Working, Features & Benefits

What is ELD

What is ELD?

ELD is an abbreviation for Electronic Logging Device. Generally, This device keeps records of a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) driver’s duty (Off and on-duty) status to maintain Hours of Service (HOS) strictly.

Plus, this technological device comes with many other relevant features apart from maintaining a driver’s Records of Duty Status (RODS).

We can get a vague idea about the main purpose of using an ELD from its definition. Usually, this piece of hardware aims to make sure that the drivers get enough rest and do not overwork themselves. According to FMCSA, fatigue is one of the main causes of road accidents, injuries, and deaths.

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), an agency in the United States Department of Transportation (DoT), made ELD use mandatory in every commercial motor vehicle.

How does an ELD work?

In the past, paper logs were the only means for recording duty hours of driving. The problem of maintaining a paper log or documentation is, it can be easily fabricated and also has chances of inaccurate data input. 

As technology advanced, more sophisticated hardware, with previously unthinkable technology, came into play with the target of reducing human error.

AOBRD (Automatic On-Board Recording Device) was the first in history with an appearance in 1988. Then came the EOBR (Electronic On-Board Recorder). And now, ELD is the latest addition.

AOBRD and EOBR were still the simpler forms of HOS tracking devices in comparison to ELD. The method of synchronization with the engine is much more defined in ELD than AOBRD or EOBR.

An FMCSA approved ELD is connected with a vehicle through its engine’s On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) port. Then the engine data is transferred to ELD, through which the user can monitor the engine status, miles driven and vehicle motion status.

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Therefore, a monitoring device is necessary through which a user can get and see live feed data from the engine. It comes with an onboard display that shows the graphical form of recorded hours of duty status.

Additionally, with smartphone applications, users can record and transmit their hours of service to the supervisory authorities. Thus, ELD comes with a smart solution to represent a driver’s duty status whether they were driving in compliance with the ELD mandate or not. 

What Features should An ELD have? 

To receive FMCSA approval, ELD installed in commercial vehicles must have some features that show they are ELD rule compliant. The device should have the following features: 

  • After enabling “on duty” status in hardware or smartphone application, an ELD should be able to switch automatically in “driving mode” when the commercial truck starts to move and reaches a speed of five miles per hour.  
  • An ELD must be able to send data (regarding a driver’s driving date and time, user ID, GPS data, user authorization, mileage, engine hours, fuel consumption) to the concerned entities (DoT and law enforcement officials) through connections (WiFi, Bluetooth or USB).
  • The ELD should inform the driver about carrying the necessary documents.
  • The device should synchronize with the engine and represent data in graphical form.
  • Individual accounts for drivers and administrators
  • Drivers copy of RODS 
  • The device is tamper-proof.

Moreover, ELDs are used to find drivers who exceed HOS approved duty hours. HOS rule states that drivers can drive a maximum of 11 hours within their 14 hours of duty time, taking 10 hours of rest. They also have a mandatory 30-minute break in 14-hour duty.

On the other hand, the data from ELD can be transmitted in four ways which are: wireless hotspot, cellular signal, Bluetooth, and USB. Some companies like Samsara also provide benefits of using a built-in personal hotspot even where the cellular signal cannot reach. 

Benefits of Using ELD

ELD certainly has many benefits compared to older onboard recorder devices such as AOBRD and EOBR as below:

  • Unlike older devices, ELD can verify the vehicle’s motion status after a driver switches on to “on duty” status. In addition to that, the device can automatically switch to “on-duty, not driving” status if the vehicle does not move for five minutes with no reaction from the user.
  • ELD strictly counts a driver’s RODS and gives a warning if a driver exceeds allowed duty hours according to HOS rule. As a result, it also demotivates drivers from using commercial vehicles for personal benefits.
  • Synchronization with Universal Coordinated Time (UTC)
  • Location of the vehicle through GPS

To conclude, not every vehicle need to install ELD. Most vehicles that do not need to maintain RODS are exempt from the ELD mandate. The main target of using ELDs is to make sure that the drivers stay healthy, reduce overworking and prevent unwanted road accidents.

Samsara is very much committed and strict to follow ELD mandate rules by sending alerts to both fleet drivers and managers so that the managers can take necessary steps to stop unnecessary HOS rule violations. 

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