Electronic logging devices (ELDs) first hit the road in the mid-1980s. Still, it was another 30 years before they became mandatory for truck drivers. Today, they have replaced paper logging for commercial vehicle fleets. This article explores in more detail how an ELD can help improve fleet safety. Learn more about the features that make such a difference in keeping people safer on the road while also simplifying compliance and business processes.

What is an ELD?

An ELD is an electronic logging device built to track a driver’s hours of service (HOS). ELD refers to a hardware device that you connect to the vehicle engine’s electronic control module (ECM). 

An ELD monitors drive time and fleet compliance, and stores the driver’s record of duty status (RODS) along with other important data. The ELD will automatically log all driving time in at least 60-minute intervals and record data from the ECM to automatically document vehicle motion status, engine power status, and other related information.

In the United States, all ELDs must be registered with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), and self-certified to be compliant with the Federal ELD mandate. In Canada, the ELD must be tested and certified by a third-party certification body accredited by the Minister of Transport

Top functions of an ELD

The ELD is designed to provide accurate and automatic recordkeeping of a wide range of data including: trip date and time, vehicle geo-location, engine hours, miles driven, and the identification of the driver, vehicle, and motor carrier. The ELD tracks location within a one-mile radius when the driver is on duty, but gives a 10-mile radius for more privacy during permitted personal use.

Accurate information is kept for the current 24-hour period and the prior seven consecutive days. Data is easily transferred (e.g., through telematics, Bluetooth, or USB) to the business system. Then, drivers or back office managers can access electronic or print copies of the tamper-proof data received.

Why the ELD was introduced

ELDs were introduced to keep people safer on the road in response to a rising accident rate and National Transportation Safety Board and the American Trucking Associations concerns. The FMCSA estimated, in passing the final ELD rule in 2015, that ELD technology could lead to “1,844 crashes avoided annually and 26 lives saved annually.”

The ELD rule was also intended, per the Department of Transportation, “to help create a safer work environment for drivers, and make it easier and faster to accurately track, manage, and share records of duty status (RODS) data.”

Trucking companies must now place an electronic logging device or ELD system inside all commercial trucks that operate more than 100 miles from their company’s home base.

What an ELD does for fleet safety

ELDs help drivers ensure they do not exceed the maximum number of hours they are allowed to drive in a day or week. But compliance with HOS regulations isn’t the only fleet safety benefit gained from installing an ELD.

Reduce accidents

The data gained from ELDs can support improved driver safety on the road and cut accident risk. The ELD can monitor hard braking, hard acceleration, and hard cornering events. This information can be used to focus training in the right areas and encourage safer fleet behavior overall. 

Meanwhile, you’re saving your drivers time by automating reporting and electronically recording necessary information. This can help you lower the stress associated with the job, giving drivers less urgency on the road. That in turn can help you retain your best qualified drivers, which can lower accident risk as well.

Prevent vehicle breakdowns

A connected ELD makes it easy to spot vehicle and asset defects detailed in drivers’ inspection reports. You can customize the driver vehicle inspection report (DVIR) to suit your needs while benefiting from full visibility into maintenance needs. Being able to repair damage quickly not only avoids expensive downtime but also ensures your vehicles on the road are in top condition.

Connects driver and back office

With electronic logging, fleet managers can know when HOS limits are approaching without the driver having to check-in by phone with dispatch. Drivers get alerts on the road that they’re close to their limit. They can also get help identifying the closest stop to take their rest, which helps counter driver fatigue.

At the same time, managers can get email notifications of HOS violations or disconnected equipment. Your business might also set geofence boundaries to alert them of yard moves or unauthorized assets in transit to prevent asset theft. Or set boundaries for areas that are riskier for drivers, so your safety managers can know when the truck has entered or leaves that zone.

Read: Best practices of successful fleet managers.

How to make the most of your ELD

An ELD is not only beneficial for fleet safety. Today’s ELDs integrate with fleet safety software to provide you with many other features to leverage in bettering your business operations. 

Improve compliance

Having an ELD on each of your fleet vehicles improves compliance with HOS regulations. Electronic logging makes data management simpler and can help safety managers resolve violations faster. With ELD data supporting notifications of any critical issues and proactive CSA monitoring as well, your business can enjoy greater visibility into overall fleet compliance health. 

Trade Star’s Senior Operations Manager Kari Gib found keeping accurate records a struggle when working with drivers’ paper logs. “It’s horrendously difficult to maintain a DOT compliant record when your drivers are on paper logs. Period,” he said. Yet when the oil and gas transportation expert switched to an electronic solution, fleet visibility improved and the company enjoyed spotless roadside inspections too.

Cut costs

An ELD can help your fleet reduce FMCSA fines and forecast CSA scores to earn lower insurance premium rates. With automated CSA monitoring, managers can prioritize risk factors to focus on, and when. 

Managing HOS, DVIR, and IFTA in one solution also helps your fleet work smarter and avert audits, That saves time and money. Additionally, reducing accidents cuts your risk of insurance costs jumping or a nuclear court verdict.

ELD systems track driver idle time as well. This can be used to identify drivers or loading docks that consistently have more idle time. Then, cut fuel costs by incentivizing drivers to cut idle time or rerouting deliveries to avoid excess detention times.

Streamline driver dispatch

A compliant ELD tracks vehicle location with an accuracy of a one-mile radius during on-duty driving times. Having near real-time access to this kind of data about the driver’s route makes it easier for managers to optimize routes, assign next destinations, and match drivers with loads. Plus, with the automatic visibility into each individual’s driving time-clocks, plans can be made that won’t risk HOS violations. 

View the product brief for Motive Dispatch.

Enhance customer satisfaction

Knowing where the asset is at all times, and being able to set up geofence boundaries, can help your business be more communicative with customers. Let the customer know a delivery is due early. Or take the necessary steps to ensure that food and beverage is kept on an optimal route to avoid refrigeration concerns.

How Motive’s ELD can improve your fleet safety

Motive is an ELD provider that offers a comprehensive fleet safety solution that also includes driver safety software and GPS tracking. Our ease of use and 24/7 support are consistently mentioned in reviews from real users on unbiased platforms such as the Google Play Store and the iTunes store.

Get in touch today for a free tour of the Motive ELD compliance platform to see how it can help your fleet.