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  October 30th, 2017 | Written by

What Logistics Leaders Need to Know About the ELD Mandate

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  • The phased ELD roll-out refers to the severity of the penalties, not to the requirements themselves.
  • ELD-related violations may affect a carrier’s ability to find affordable insurance.
  • The ELD mandate will have a significant impact on carriers’ operations, especially in the short term.

The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate is expected to go into effect on December 18, 2017, as planned. With the implementation date looming, logistics leaders should consider the potential regulatory and commercial impact of the mandate on their and others’ assets, drivers and operations.

Essential Regulatory Information

First, while the ELD roll-out is being referred to as a “phased approach,” this refers only to the severity of the penalties, not to the requirements themselves. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) officials have indicated that for the period of December 18, 2017 to April 1, 2018, violations will result in fines or citations. After April 1, 2018, non-compliant trucks could be placed out of service.

Perhaps less obviously, ELD-related violations may also affect a carrier’s ability to find affordable insurance. When ELD-related violations force a truck out-of-service, the carrier’s Safety Measurement System (SMS) value will be negatively impacted. Because that value is used to determine a carrier’s insurability, non-compliance with the ELD mandate could cause a costly hike in insurance rates.

Second, while the FMCSA and Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) have worked to promote a uniform roll-out among state law enforcement agencies, some confusion and disproportional enforcement is probably inevitable. Because the application of fines and penalties could vary, at least initially, stakeholders should understand these differences. Additionally, carriers should be prepared to help educate law enforcement officials. Enforcement officers with varying degrees of training will be asked to read data from a range of ELD devices, and well-trained drivers will be better positioned to expedite the inspection process.

Third, and most obviously, the ELD mandate will not immediately apply to all trucks. A driver who currently uses a compliant Automatic On-Board Recording Device (AOBRD) may continue to do so until December 2019. Also, a driver who is not required by regulation to complete driver logs for more than 8 days during a month may continue to use paper logs. Drivers who conduct drive-away-tow-away operations may also continue to use paper logs, as may drivers of trucks manufactured before 2000.

Next Steps

Carriers should implement driver and back-office training to ensure that employees are well-versed on the ELD mandate. Drivers should know how to access and print out their ELD log from their mobile device or tablet, and they should also retain the ELD user manual in their vehicle at all times, including to assist inspection officers and mitigate potential delays related to inspections.


The ELD mandate will have a significant impact on carriers’ operations, especially in the short term. When choosing when to comply, carriers should consider the fines, penalties, and out-of-service orders associated with non-compliance; the potential impact on safety scores and insurability; and the opportunities that the disruption is likely to create. With thoughtful planning and proactive training, the ELD mandate need not be a barrier to success; rather, carriers that anticipate these issues will capture business while their competitors work through the kinks.

Dan Broderick is general counsel at AFN Logistics, a dynamic third-party logistics provider. Dan has over 12 years of experience in legal, planning, and operational roles in the transportation, telecommunications, government contracting, and energy industries.