How to stay compliant if your ELD goes down

Driver in Cab of Truck
Operators have only eight days after an electronic logging device (ELD) malfunction to get it back up and running before being placed out of service. If the device can’t be fixed or replaced within that time, an extension must be requested from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

While we’d prefer technology to work perfectly all the time, sometimes it fails. If this should happen to your electronic logging device (ELD) during regular operations, make sure you have appropriate policies in place and that your drivers know exactly what to do to resolve the issue. Take a look at the steps below to make sure you’re prepared in the case of a malfunction or ELD outage.

What is an ELD malfunction?

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), compliant ELDs are required to monitor their own compliance with the ELD technical requirements. This includes being able to detect malfunctions and data inconsistencies related to power, data synchronization, missing data, timing, position, data recording, data transfer and unidentified driver records requirements. As FMCSA notes on its FAQ page, ELDs must identify these issues and notify the driver.

There are two main types of ELD issues that may be detected:

  • Data diagnostic issues:This indicates there is a data inconsistency. This can be caused by temporary loss of GPS, a wiring or connection issue, or the ELD being disconnected from the engine control module (ECM). Drivers should be able to use their instruction manuals to troubleshoot, as some of these issues can be resolved by the driver.
  • Malfunction:A malfunction occurs when the ELD detects a technical compliance issue which can be caused by hardware faults, if the vehicle has been out of service for long periods of time and throws off the internal clock, or the unit is disconnected from the ECM or not getting power for more than 30 minutes during a 24-hour period. These more serious issues may affect the driver’s records on the ELD. As a result, the drivers must notify the motor carrier and use paper logs if they can no longer track hours on their ELD.

What to do if your ELD malfunctions

As noted, ELDs that meet FMCSA’s technical requirements must detect device malfunctions and data diagnostic events and alert the driver visually. The driver should notify the motor carrier as soon as they become aware of any malfunction as matter of best practice. If a driver can’t retrieve the past seven days of hours-of-service records of duty (RODs), and can no longer use their ELD to log hours, they should then begin to record logs on paper and reconstruct logs for the current 24-hour period and previous seven days, which they will need to show during a roadside inspection. This can be quite tedious and frustrating, so before you go to the work of reconstructing logs, make sure you understand which type of malfunction or data diagnostic your driver is experiencing and if you can resolve it on your own or if you’ll need to get your ELD provider involved.

As part of the mandate, your ELD provider should give you a malfunction and diagnostic guide that is easy for drivers to use in case of an outage. For example, EROAD’s Malfunction and Data Diagnostic Guide is easy to use and includes diagrams that make it simple for drivers to understand which type of malfunction is occurring and whether or not it’s going to be an easy fix or they will need to get out the paper logs. Note that 395.22(h) requires drivers possess at least eight days’ worth of blank paper logs with them in case of malfunctions to record RODS manually.

How to prevent being out of service (OOS)

To avoid being placed OOS it’s important to understand what to do in case your technology does malfunction. It’s important to understand that you only have eight days after your device malfunctions to get it back up and running. If you can’t get it fixed or get a replacement in that time, you’ll need to request an extension from FMCSA. Refer to the FMCSA Q&A on how to obtain an extension.

If this becomes a regular problem with your provider, make sure they aren’t hanging out on the FMCSA ELD Registry’s revoked list. These are the ELDs that are no longer approved by FMCSA as compliant devices, and you will need to find a new provider.

How to pick a reliable and accurate ELD

Avoid costly outages with an ELD that works. Here are a few tips for picking one that’s accurate and reliable:

  • Choose a tethered solution:Pick something that is always connected to the engine to optimize the connection between vehicle and ELD, reducing potential outages.
  • Positive uptime:Reliable ELDs should have a rapid ping rate and consistently high uptime so that you can minimize costly interruptions to your business.
  • Easy for drivers to use:A device that is easy to use, that comes with quick and simple guides to help drivers stay connected on the road longer and get back on the road quicker.
  • Reduce downtime:Select a solution that connects to multiple carrier networks, helping to ensure coverage in sparsely populated areas and areas of spotty coverage for major wireless providers.
  • Third-party verified:While suppliers can self-certify their technologies, pick a provider that has gone the extra mile to undergo independent testing and unbiased verification.

This story, written by Soona Lee, originally appeared on the EROAD blog on Dec. 9, 2020.

For over 30 years, the objective of The Trucker editorial team has been to produce content focused on truck drivers that is relevant, objective and engaging. After reading this article, feel free to leave a comment about this article or the topics covered in this article for the author or the other readers to enjoy. Let them know what you think! We always enjoy hearing from our readers.


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