Making Sense of FMCSA’s New ELD Law

by Melissa Dresner, Roadshow Services

As of April 1, 2018 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) electronic logging device mandate goes into full effect, requiring most commercial vehicles to have a compliant and functioning electronic logging device in the cab to enforce the hours of service regulations (HOS). As fatigue is a leading cause of vehicle accidents, the stated goal of this mandate is to ensure the safety of everyone on the road.

Failure to comply with the rules will result in the driver being placed out of service and subject to fine. A driver will be considered non-compliant if they:

  • are using an unauthorized logging device not registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

  • Iare unable to produce and transfer data electronically from an ELD to an authorized law enforcement officer, or to produce the data via the display or print it out. A driver with an AOBRD can be placed out of service if unable to display or produce records of duty status

  • Indicates a special driving category when not involved in that category (considered a false log)

  • Is required to have an ELD and the vehicle is not equipped with one (or an Automatic On-Board Recording Device/AOBRD until Dec. 17, 2019) []

Current HOS rules have not changed as part of this mandate. However, the use of ELD’s are now exposing many commonplace mistakes that were overlooked (sometimes intentionally) when using paper logs, such as load & fueling times. It is important to regularly re-familiarize yourself with the current requirements.


  • Once a driver starts the 14-hour clock, they cannot pause that clock. (A driver can be on duty for 14 hours and drive for 11 of those hours.)

  • A driver must be on duty to do a 15-minute pre-trip & 15-minute post-trip which

  • counts against the 14-hour clock.

  • When a driver gets fuel, they are on duty. Easily 30 minutes or longer (a car holds about 20 and a semi holds 400 gallons. Not only this process takes time - but the chore of getting on and off the highway - slowing down, merging, and exiting.

  • When a driver is in the trailer securing the load, they are on-duty which counts against the 14-hour clock.

  • A driver must take a 30-minute break which counts against the 14-hour clock.

  • A driver must take 10 consecutive hours off.

  • A driver cannot work over 70 hours in 8 consecutive days. They must take 34 hours off duty to reset the running hours to 0.

All of us need to work together to ensure that Hours of Service are enforced. Accidents do happen, but we all should be doing everything in our power to limit them.

Shelby Cude