The role of fleet managers is becoming very important in today’s trucking industry. The more they understand the upcoming ELD mandate, the better they can help drivers during the ELD implementation process.

However, sadly, there is a lot of confusing information out there for fleet managers. As a result, they often ask questions about ELDs and the ELD mandate.

So we decided to create a one-stop resource answering all the commonly asked questions by fleet managers regarding ELDs and the ELD rule.

The following abbreviations are used in the rest of the blog post.

  • ELD = Electronic logging device
  • FMCSA = Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
  • CMV = Commercial motor vehicle
  • RODS = Records of duty status
  • HOS = Hours of service
  • CFR = Code of Federal Regulations
  • VIN = Vehicle Identification Number
  • ECM = Engine control module
  • AOBRD = Automatic onboard recording device

The 17 fleet manager questions about ELDs

1. What are the key requirements of the ELD mandate?

There are four major requirements of the ELD mandate. The ELD mandate:

  • Requires the use of ELDs for CMV drivers who are required by current regulations to prepare Hours-of-Service Record of Duty Status
  • Sets the performance and design standards of ELDs, and requires the certification and registration of ELDs with FMCSA
  • Establishes the supporting documents that carriers and drivers are expected to keep with them
  • Prohibits CMV driver harassment based on ELD data and any integrated technology (such as systems for fleet management). There are also remedial options for drivers who believe they have been harassed.

2. Does my fleet have to comply with the ELD mandate?

According to the ELD mandate, most CMV operators are required to use certified ELDs. If your drivers maintain RODs, chances are you’re going to need ELDs.

However, there are four ELD exemptions as well.

  • Drivers who are exempt from maintaining RODS under the short-haul exemption
  • Drivers who do not maintain RODS for more than eight days in a 30-day period
  • Conducts drive-away tow-away operations with the vehicle driven being the delivered commodity
  • Vehicles that were manufactured before the year 2000

If your drivers or vehicles don’t fit any of these criteria, they will have to use ELDs after December 18, 2017.

3. How are the eight days per 30-Day period calculated?

The specified period of 30 days is not limited to only a single month. It doesn’t either have to be a period from the beginning to the end of a particular month. Instead, the 30-day period can be applied to any period of 30 days.

For example, June 15 to July 15 will be considered a 30-day period.

4. Are leased and rented CMVs exempt from the ELD mandate?

No. Drivers and motor carriers are still required to record Hours of Service with ELDs.

However, if a commercial driver or vehicle, rented/leased or not, qualifies under any of the four exemptions mentioned above, they don’t have to use ELDs.

5. Are fleet drivers who are domiciled in other countries still required to use ELDs when operating within the United States?


Cross-border drivers have to comply with FMCSA-specified HOS rules while operating in the United States. These cross-border drivers include Canada-domiciled and Mexico-domiciled drivers.

These rules also include using ELDs if they do not qualify for any of the exemptions.

Foreign-domiciled CMV drivers operating in multiple jurisdictions can annotate their driver’s RODS on the ELD with details of any periods of operation that are outside the United States.

6. How can ELDs improve our company’s operations?

With all the features that an ELD possesses, there are several ways it can optimize a trucking company’s operation. For example:

  • ELDs can help you calculate IFTA reports with just a few clicks. You can save hundreds of hours that you would have otherwise spent manually reviewing trip sheets and calculating distance traveled in each jurisdiction.
  • With the idle-time tracking feature, ELDs can help you identify drivers who are wasting fuel. According to an estimate, for a truck that consumes $70,000 of fuel per year, approximately $5,600 is wasted on idling.
  • With the GPS tracking feature, fleet managers can identify better, shorter routes and plan trips more efficiently.
  • Most ELDs gather data that helps fleet managers identify drivers with bad driving behaviors. With the help of driver profiles and driver scorecards, fleet managers can help drivers improve and reduce the risk of accidents & injuries.

7. Can drivers use ELDs even if they are exempt?

Yes. Drivers who are exempt from the ELD mandate can still use ELDs to access all the other fleet management features.

8. How to determine my fleet’s CMVs’ model year?

The model year is determined based on the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) that is often found on the chassis of vehicles. The code for the model year relies on the 10th digit in the VIN.

9. What are the needed vehicle parameters and accuracy requirements for ELD mandate compliance?

The requirements can be viewed here in FMCSA’s final rule on the ELD mandate.

You can find the requirements in Section 4.3.1 of Appendix A to Subpart B of part 395.

10. Do the vehicles need any ELD user documents on board?

As specified in FMCSA’s final ruling regarding the ELD mandate, drivers of CMVs with ELDs installed in it are instructed to have an ELD information packet on board containing the following items:

  • An ELD user manual that describes to CMV drivers how to use the electronic device
  • An instruction sheet that explains the ELD-supported data transfer mechanisms and offers step-by-step instructions on how to produce and transfer the HOS-RODS to an authorized law enforcement officer
  • Another instruction sheet describing the reporting requirements and record-keeping procedures during malfunctions of the ELD
  • A supply of blank CMV driver’s RODS graph-grids that is sufficient enough to record a driver’s status and other relevant information for at least eight days.

These requirements will be enforced from December 18, 2017.

11. Can an ELD be on a smartphone or other wireless device?

Yes. Your fleet’s ELDs can be on smartphones or any other wireless device as long as they meet the ELD mandate’s technical specifications.

Also, ELDs may be portable, as long as these devices are mounted in a fixed position whenever the CMV is operational. The electronic device should also be visible to the CMV driver from his or her normal sitting position, as specified in section 49 CFR 395.22(g).

12. For how long a carrier should retain the ELD RODS data?

Motor carriers have to retain and backup six months’ worth of RODS data. The backup copy of the ELD records has to be preserved on a separate device from where the original data was stored.

Additionally, the ELD files have to be upheld by the motor carriers in a manner that protects the CMV drivers’ privacy.

13. Will FMCSA or other authorized law enforcement officers retain my ELD data?

ELD data will not be retained by the FMCSA unless there is a violation.

14. When is the compliance date of the ELD mandate?

The ELD mandate compliance date is December 18, 2017.

15. What is the “Grandfathered” clause?

According to FMCSA, the ELD mandate compliance date is December 18, 2017. However, those who are already using AOBRDs will have two additional years for ELD implementation. For them, the ELD mandate compliance date would be December 16, 2019.

This is known as the “grandfather” clause.

16. Before the compliance date, does my fleet have other options to complete RODS?

Before the compliance date arrives, your fleet can still use:

  • Paper logs
  • ELDs
  • AOBRDs
  • Devices that have logging software programs

However, we highly recommend starting to use compliant electronic logging devices (ELDs) well before the ELD mandate deadline. It is to ensure that by December 18, 2017, everyone in your fleet understands how to operate ELDs, store compulsory data, and manage the ELD dashboard for fleets.

17. How exactly can ELDs help me as a fleet manager?

There are a lot of ways fleet managers can benefit from ELDs.

For one thing, they no longer need to call the drivers for their ETA and location every time they receive follow-up phone calls from shippers. Fleet managers can log into their web dashboard and view real-time information within seconds.

This makes their lives a lot easier since they no longer need to make unnecessary phone calls to drivers.

Another benefit worth mentioning is the amount of time and stress that fleet managers will be spared from IFTA calculation. It’s no secret to the trucking industry how tedious IFTA reporting is. With ELDs, fleet managers would be able to calculate IFTA reports in just a few clicks. This saves hundreds of hours that they can spend on other more productive tasks.

Other than that, ELDs will help fleet managers identify drivers with bad driving behaviors.

Motive, an FMCSA-registered ELD solution

The ELD mandate deadline is just months away now. Instead of waiting for the very last moment, smart fleet managers are implementing ELDs now.

It gives them ample time to properly install ELDs, go through training programs, iron out little kinks, and train their drivers as well. A smooth ELD transition process requires time and practice. Waiting for the very last minute is only going to backfire.

If you’re interested in the Motive ELD solution, request a free demo now and experience firsthand how it can help you streamline operations and maximize profits.