Commercial drivers are held to different and in many cases more rigid standards on the road. They come under closer scrutiny about the manner in which they drive and how long they work during each shift.
To prove to law enforcement and others that they drive safely, commercial drivers are required to use electronic logging devices or ELDs while they are behind the wheel of their vehicles. These three facts about ELDs and the ELD mandate can help the public understand the regulations by which drivers must abide during long-distance hauls.
What is the ELD Mandate?
The ELD mandate requires certain drivers of commercial vehicles to use electronic logging devices or ELDs. These devices are primarily designed to record data that pertains to a driver’s operation of his or her vehicle. They also keep track of the driver’s activity during the time that he or she is on the road.
The ELD devices are important for tracking commercial vehicle operators’ hours of service or HOS. HOS can pertain to:
- Hours driving the commercial vehicle
- Working hours when the driver is working but not driving the vehicle
- Rest time
HOS is a permanent record that must by law be kept when a driver is out on the road.
The first law requiring commercial drivers to keep track of their hours behind the wheel was passed in 1937. Logs were handwritten and kept manually. The newest ELD mandates require today’s drivers to use automatic onboard recording devices or AOBRDs that incorporate automated technology found in the best ELD devices.
The Reason for the ELD Mandate
The ELD mandate serves to protect both commercial drivers and the public. It answered the need for law enforcement and employers of long-distance haulers to determine how long drivers were behind the wheels of their vehicles. They required this information for a variety of reasons but especially to answer the question of whether or not driver fatigue caused accidents with other motorists on the road.
Studies consistently show that long-distance driving or driving for an extended period of time results in driver fatigue. Fatigue, in turn, increases the likelihood of a driver being involved in a serious vehicle accident.
Law enforcement officers who work accidents involving commercial vehicles are required to determine how long the driver was behind the wheel. To do so, they refer to the driver’s records of driving hours, work hours and rest time.
ELDs took the place of handwritten records that could be easily manipulated or skewed because of mathematical errors. Owners of commercial driving companies and law enforcement now refer to ELDs to determine if an operator could have caused a wreck because of the time that he or she spent driving.
Who the Mandate Applies To
The ELD mandate applies to:
- Interstate commercial vehicle drivers required to keep records of duty status
- Vehicles weighing more than 10,001 pounds
- Vehicles with placarded hazmat loads
- Vehicles carrying eight to 15 passengers
Whether or not the mandate pertains to passenger vehicles largely depends on the vehicles’ classifications, however.
As a rule, the ELD mandate does not pertain to a select few commercial operators. Drivers who meet these criteria are not required to use an ELD while they drive. These drivers include:
- Those who operate within a 100-mile radius who are allowed to use time cards
- Drive-away, tow-away operators
- Non-CDL drivers who operate within a 150 air-mile radius
- Those who drive commercial vehicles made prior to the model 2000 year
Commercial operators who meet these standards do not have to use an ELD and can keep track of their hours if required by employers through other means.
The ELD mandate protects both commercial drivers and the public. It requires drivers to keep track of their driving and operator activities. It pertains to many commercial vehicles on the road today.