By Next Week, One in Eight US Fleets Will Be Operating Illegally

The ELD deadline is fast approaching, but not all businesses have upgraded their commercial vehicle technology...
Adam Rowe
5 minute read

The ELD Deadline is fast approaching.

On Monday, December 16, 2019, all commercial motor vehicle fleets in the United States will need to use electronic logging devices, or ELDs. The date marks the end of a four-years-long rollout of a government mandate designed to promote safety and accurate tracking of the hours that US truckers work.

But there’s a problem. research suggested that one in eight fleets still didn't have ELDs to track their hours of service as recently as September of this year — instead relying on older AOBRDs (Automatic On-Board Recording Devices that are merely compliant with now-outdated regulations), or even using pen-and-paper logs. These fleets could soon face serious consequences.

If your business has commercial vehicles, you need ELDs and you need them fast. Here's the low-down on what’s happening, and how to get compliant today.

What’s the ELD Mandate, anyway?

First published in 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s ELD mandate decrees that all commercial drivers in the US need to adopt electronic logging devices as the standard way to record their hours of service.

An ELD is a hardware unit, typically about the size of a fist. It records data in categories including date, location, time, engine hours, and vehicle miles. To qualify as an ELD-compliant system, an ELD needs to meet certain standards determined by the FMCSA. A full, searchable list of approved devices is available online.
The mandate first went into effect on December 2017, but since some fleets were already using electronic AOBRDs to log their hours, these fleets were given a two-year grace period before they needed to switch over to ELDs. But on December 16 this year, the law officially extendeds to all carriers and drivers (with a few rare exceptions, like carriers who never use logs more than 8 days in any given 30-day period, or those driving vehicles manufactured prior to the year 2000).

What Happens to Non-compliant Fleets?

Enforcement takes place at roadside inspections during traffic stops. Drivers will be asked to provide an hours of service report through their registered, regulation-compliant ELD. They’ll need to have all Records of Duty Status (RODS) data covering the past six months, along with a few other documents. You can check out a full list of the required information in our full ELD Mandate explainer.

If the driver can’t provide the required RODS data, they’ll be found in violation. The exact fine will be determined by the U.S. commercial vehicle enforcement personnel in charge of the inspection, though it’ll likely be a few thousand dollars.

The driver will receive a citation for failing to provide their RODS information, and they will be placed out of service (OOS) for 10 hours, or 8 hours if they’re a passenger carrier. Once back in service, the driver can complete their trip, using their copy of the inspection report to avoid getting cited a second time during the same trip. After getting back home, however, the same driver will need to install and start using an ELD, or they’ll face another citation when stopped again (along with potentially higher fines).

Here’s How to Get ELD Compliant

Staying in compliance is as simple as buying and installing an ELD. You can check out a few of the best options over here.

Many ELDs are plug-and-play. You’ll be able to install them within seconds, just by plugging them into your vehicle’s OBDII port. Others will need to be professionally installed, a service often included in the cost of buying the ELD hardware and software package.

While you can get a stripped-down ELD service that does little more than let drivers stay compliant to pass roadside inspections, the ELD mandate offers an opportunity to upgrade to a fleet management system, or FMS. In addition to offering ELD compliance, an FMS can help fleet managers monitor virtually all important tasks from a single central dashboard.

An FMS can track fuel use, locations, travel times, engine idling time, and driving habits like harsh braking or cornering incidents. It can also offer two-way communication, letting managers make data-driven decisions faster and effectively communicate them to drivers. You can compare FMS prices to find the best deals here.

Making the Choice

Commercial fleets that still don’t use ELDs face a simple decision: Don’t do anything and face the inevitable legal consequences, or adapt to an ELD-compliant system that’ll cover all their legal bases.

Pick the right FMS, and that new system could boost total revenue as much as 30% as well, far more than making up for the cost of adapting the fleet management system in the first place.

To get started with a streamlined cost-saving FMS today, head over to’s quick quotes collection form. Take a minute to fill it out, and you’ll be able to start comparing quotes from the top FMS vendors in order to settle on the best FMS for your fleet.

Spireon ELD unit and mobile app

An ELD device and app, from Spireon

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Adam is a writer at and has worked as a tech writer, blogger and copy editor for more than a decade. He's also a Forbes Contributor on the publishing industry, for which he was named a Digital Book World 2018 award finalist. His work has appeared in publications including Popular Mechanics and IDG Connect, and he has an art history book on 1970s sci-fi coming out from Abrams Books in 2022. In the meantime, he's hunting own the latest news on VPNs, POS systems, and the future of tech.

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