The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate several months ago. In order to answer the lingering questions about the new rules, here’s a basic introduction to the mandate and its effect on the industry.
What is the ELD mandate?
The mandate was released on December 2015 and amended the current the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) to optimize performance and design standards for hours of service (HOS).
According to the mandate, fleets have until December 2017 to transition to ELDs. Carriers already using automatic on-board recording devices (AOBRDs) have until 2019 to meet ELD mandate requirements. The FMCSA expects a change for 3.4 million drivers. 
What does an ELD do?
In the simplest form, an ELD is an electronic solution that allows professional truck drivers and commercial motor carriers to efficiently record and track their HOS. ELDs can:
- Connect to a truck’s engine to track when the truck is in motion.
- Enable the truck driver to log in and pick “On-duty,” Off-duty,” or “On-Duty and Not Driving.”
- Display a record of duty status so the driver can quickly see hours in a day.
- Offer data in a standardized format to transmit to law enforcement in multiple ways (i.e., wireless web services, email, USB, or Bluetooth 2.0). 
What’s the difference between AOBRDs and ELDs?
These terms are often used interchangeably, but each has unique capabilities.
AOBRD: Automatic on-board recording device. These describe an electronic device that meets FMCSA’s requirements to be used rather than paper logbooks.
ELD: ELDs can synchronize with a fleet’s engine to track power and motion status, miles driven, and engine hours.
How does the ELD mandate save the industry time and money?
You can expect drivers to save physical time using an ELD instead of paper logs. What used to take time to get out the book, find the right page, and do the calculations, is now as simple as pushing “check in” or “check out” on a screen. The ELD mandate is projected to save each truck driver more than 20 hours of time each year. 
ELDs can also help improve the accuracy of future projections on scheduling. Rather than relying on the driver to estimate being able to accept a load at the end of the week, the ELD will have an accurate forecast about availability. This, combined with the features of a fleet management system can help reduce fuel costs, slash truck downtime, and heighten safety in the long term.
Are there any exceptions to the ELD rule?
The short answer is yes. The following types of commercial drivers will be exempt:
- As part of the short haul exemption, drivers who use paper logs for no more than 8 days during any 30 day period
- Drivers who conduct driveaway-towaway operations, where the vehicle is the product being delivered
- Drivers of vehicles manufactured before model year 2000
This only touches on the basic tenants of the ELD mandate; look for my upcoming post that will answer your more specific questions about the ELD mandate, including:
- How much capacity will this remove from the market between now and December 2017?
- Do ELDs make carriers less efficient?
- Will shippers have to monitor drivers’ HOS?
- How will the mandate affect drivers who cross U.S. borders into Canada and Mexico?
- What happens if a driver does not meet the required implementation deadline?
You can also visit the FMCSA website, check out the Freightquote blog post that inspired this one, discover three things to consider before implementing an ELD, or contact your logistics provider to talk about your specific situation.
This post has been updated to correct information about the amount of time drivers can expect to save from the ELD mandate.