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What are ELD Trucking and Hours of Service Regulations?

Eld Trucking

Introduced by the Federal Motors Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in 2015, the electronic logging device (ELD) is used by trucking companies to record the daily activity of their drivers and fleet. The FMCSA requires commercial truck drivers to use the ELD system to record HOS (Hours of Service) instead of manually creating logs with a pen and paper. ELDs streamline workflows and help truckers avoid HOS and ELD violations. Keep reading to learn more about ELD and HOS regulations and exemptions.

What is an ELD?

An electronic logging device (ELD) is connected to the truck’s engine and monitors miles driven, engine hours, location, and movement. The ELD provides real-time information on the vehicle’s status. This helps trucking companies to comply with trucking rules and regulations.

Not only have ELDs simplified the record-keeping process for truck drivers by minimizing the risk of errors and reducing paperwork, but they also improve driver safety. In addition, some ELDs can provide extended benefits, such as engine fault reporting, invoice scanning, inspection reporting, and monitoring fuel usage. Finally, an ELD makes it easier for officials to gather information during investigations, roadside inspections, or safety audits.

An ELD system typically includes fleet management software, a tracking device, and a mobile app. Truckers can check logs through the mobile app. ELDs generally come in two formats; the carrier can use a certified device that meets the FMCSA requirements or use the ELD as a mobile app. According to, the FMCSA allows ELDs on smartphones, but it is best to have it on a separate device.

The ELDs trucking companies use in their fleets must be certified by the manufacturer and registered by the FMCSA. A reliable ELD offers location tracking, synchronization with the engine’s control module, electronic data transfer, audio controls, user manual, and tamper prevention.

How Does the ELD Mandate Work?

HOS laws have been in place since 1938. These laws regulate how many hours truck drivers should work. The ELD mandate helps reinforce these regulations by requiring trucking companies to maintain a record of duty status (RODS) on any automatic onboard recording device (AOBRD) using an ELD system.

The ELD mandate applies to commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) in interstate commerce, including vehicles that have a gross combination weight rating or gross vehicle weight rating of 10,001 pounds or above, CMVs used or designed to transport nine or more passengers, including the driver, for compensation, vehicles transporting 16 or more passengers without compensation, and vehicles that transport hazardous materials in quantity and require placards.

The ELD mandate also requires drivers to carry a blank RODS graph grid as a backup for a minimum of eight days to record driver status and other relevant information. It also requires them to carry an instruction sheet with details regarding ELD malfunctions and how to provide officials with HOS records on demand.

While the ELD mandate applies to most CMVs, there are some situations where it may not apply. For example, driveaway-towaway operations may be exempt from the ELD mandate, allowing drivers who drive vehicles that are part of the shipment being delivered or are delivering a recreational or motorhome vehicle trailer to record RODS on an AOBRD or manually.

Vehicles with engines made before 2000 may also be exempt from this mandate. In addition, since short-haul drivers generally do not have the same RODS or HOS requirements, they may also be exempt from the ELD mandate. Another exemption is drivers who must complete a RODS eight days or fewer in a month.

Hours of Service Regulations

HOS regulations reduce the number of fatigued drivers on the road, allowing drivers to take adequate breaks and rest between shifts and regulating the number of hours they can drive. This can lead to a reduction in fatigue-related road accidents. These regulations are mandated by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the FMCSA. Generally, all CMVs involved in interstate commerce are required to comply with HOS rules and regulations. With the use of ELDs in commercial vehicles, it has become easier for carriers and truck drivers to avoid committing any HOS violations.

Time Spent on Duty

When a trucker switches to On-Duty status, their 14-hour shift begins. All necessary breaks are counted as a part of the shift. HOS regulations require drivers to take a 10-hour break after this shift ends. On the other hand, commercial passenger vehicles have a 15-hour shift and an 8-hour break. After 8 hours of driving, a truck driver should take at least a 30-minute break as per HOS regulations.

The time a truck driver spends on duty should not exceed either 60 hours in seven days or 70 hours in eight days, and at midnight, the time resets. A driver can take 34 hours off duty to reset this time on any day of the week. They may also be able to take more than one break in a week. It is up to the dispatch to decide which time variation suits their schedule best.

Driving Rules

After a maximum of 11 hours on duty, truck drivers should take a 10-hour break, and for passenger commercial vehicles, the drivers must take an 8-hour break after a maximum of 10 hours on duty. The drivers can also divide this time using the sleeper berth to avoid driving 10 or 11 consecutive hours. For example, if a trucker drives for five consecutive hours and takes an eight-hour break in the sleeper berth, they have the remaining six hours to reach the maximum on-duty time.

Exceptions to the HOS Regulations

If a driver uses a CMV for personal conveyance, they may be exempted from the HOS regulations by the FMCSA. Personal conveyance can include driving somewhere to rest after loading or unloading cargo, transporting personal property off-duty, and commuting to or from the worksite or residence. Another exemption is if a driver encounters bad weather on the journey, their On-duty time frame can extend from 11 to 13 hours. This is also possible if the truck driver encounters unpredicted traffic congestion.

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