November 3, 2021

Most Commonly Asked Questions About ELDs

In 2017 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) required most motor carriers to shift from traditional paper logs to ELDs. While it’s been a few years since that mandate has taken effect, it’s still important for any new trucking company to recognize that investing in a good ELD is an important step of starting a trucking company.

Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about ELDs and how they can affect your new business.

What Is an ELD?

ELD stands for Electronic Logging Device, and it’s a device that attaches to your truck’s engine to more accurately record the miles you’ve driven. As you drive, it automatically starts tracking, and you can then log miles based on if it was driving time, on duty time, sleeper berth, personal conveyance, or other set rules.

The device can then generate logs and other types of reports by sending the data from the device to a separate piece of hardware, such as the ELD device itself, a smartphone, or a tablet. These reports can be used to prove to the FMCSA that your drivers are following Hours of Service regulations.

Someone using their tablet with logs on it.

Unlike traditional records of duty status (RODS), these reports can’t be edited, forcing truck drivers to be held accountable for miles traveled. There are other advantages to a good ELD, like they can make IFTA reports much easier to do too.

Who Needs an ELD?

You most likely ELD in each of your trucks, there are some exemptions, but they are few and far between. These devices are designed to replace traditional paper logs, and the process of filling out RODS is essentially the same, except instead of writing where you’ve traveled on paper, you use your ELD software to track breaks and off-duty hours.

How Much Does an ELD Cost?

The cost of an ELD depends on the provider and the plan. Some brands might have a higher upfront cost for additional equipment, while others provide the equipment for free with higher monthly payments.

For our own trucking company Haulin Assets, the ELD we chose cost us about $400 with an annual subscription, but as part of that cost, we chose a provider that automatically generates IFTA reports, which saved us a lot of time and money in the long run.

How Do I Find a Good ELD Provider?

Not all ELDs are created equal. The FMCSA offers a list of registered ELDs, you can choose from that list, and you can also view FMCA’s list of revoked ELDs that did not meet their specifications. While it doesn’t necessarily matter which ELD you choose, it can help you narrow down your choices to providers that have been approved.

If you’re trying to decide which one to get, we recommend listening to episode 16 of Haulin Assets. We cover more in-depth these five factors to help you decide which might be a good choice for your company:

  1. Is it compliant with the FMCSA regulation?
  2. Is it easy to use?
  3. Does it come with other features?
  4. How much does it cost?
  5. What type of equipment do you need to purchase to effectively use it?

What we found when searching for providers, is that they were all relatively the same price, it was just a matter of finding the one that had the correct features. This was especially true for us because we chose an ELD that generates IFTA reports, but not all devices do.

Who Is NOT Required To Have an ELD?

There are exceptions to the ELD mandate, as the main carriers who don’t have to worry about getting one are:

  • Drivers who are considered short haul and drive within a 150-mile radius
  • Drivers who are only use paper RODS no more than 8 times every 30-day period
  • Certain tow trucks and drive-away vehicles
  • Drivers who are driving vehicles manufactured before the year 2000, as those trucks do not have the computers necessary to work with ELDs

You can read more about some of the changes to HOS rules that may have impacted whether or not your company is required to get one.

Want To Start a Trucking Company?

An ELD is just one piece of the process of becoming your own boss. At Motor Carrier HQ, our coaches can help you every step of the way and get your trucking authority, file your Unified Carrier Registration, and provide the paperwork you need to pass your new entrant safety audit. Get in touch with our coaches to build a custom game plan for your new trucking company!

If you want additional resources, make sure to tune into our podcast Haulin Assets to learn how we started our own trucking company. We walk through everything from start to finish, including the cost that comes with starting your own business, and even discuss each month’s finances to show that it is possible to make a profit.

Listen to Haulin Assets

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