The Department of Transportation (DOT) recently mandated the use of Electronic Logging Devices (ELD), also called electronic logbooks, to replace the previous paper logbook systems. ELD records data related to the operation of the vehicle and driver activity, with much focus on the hours of service or HOS. Also, the device can record when the truck is in motion, the rate of speed the travels, parked hours, and idle time. It requires a tablet or a smartphone for the drivers to monitor their current status as well as to print their hour logs when required by DOT inspectors.

The ELD mandate appears as the most efficient solution after the regulators and news media noticed that more and more road accidents happen when the driver is sleepy or tired, especially when traveling at night. Thus, the law enforces Hours-of-Service (HOS) rules and to ensure that the driver’s limited HOS won’t exceed.

Apart from making sure that drivers and owner-operators work within hours set by the federal law, ELD serves as the perfect tool for tracking fleet locations, observing driver behavior, and recording traffic violations.

So far, the ELD device has been useful for trucking companies in uncovering which driver misuses the vehicle and overall management of their fleet. The current results suggest that ELDs make the daily job of keeping records simpler, faster, and smarter.

ELDs, however, are not exempted from tech difficulties and faults. These devices may also malfunction, even at the time when you need it the most. So what should truckers do in the event of an ELD malfunction?

Who Needs To Use ELD?

Those who use ELD are the people who need to educate themselves on how to deal with a complicated or faulty ELD. The US federal mandate covers anybody who was previously required to file a Record of Duty Statuses such as truck drivers in the United States, owner-operators, and interstate commercial motor vehicle drivers. FMCSA and its sub-branch CVSA, enforces 100% ELD compliance.

However, there are some drivers and commercial motor vehicles exempted from the mandate. These are short-haul drivers, tow away operations where the commercial motor vehicle is the commodity, operating trucks older than the model year 2000, drivers that only keep logs for eight days out of 30 days, and livestock vehicles.

How Does An ELD Malfunction?

As with most electronic equipment, ELDs can also stop working as it should. Most malfunctioning ELDs will give ample prompts to provide the user with enough time to prepare. An ELD would show a single visual malfunction indicator in the form of a text, light, symbol, or on a stand-alone display.

It’s impossible not to notice the signs displayed by the ELD. Companies must oblige their drivers to report issues like this immediately to the fleet manager. ELDs also show a single visual data diagnostics indicator that takes note of its current status, along with recommendations.

Here are the different ELD malfunctions and diagnostic events:

Data Recording Compliance Malfunction

This event happens when the device can no longer record or retain required activities and other data. The device is also unable to retrieve recorded logs that are not kept remotely by the motor carrier.

Engine Synchronization Compliance Malfunction

This diagnostic event occurs when the engine control module (ECM) loses connectivity to the required data sources (engine power status, vehicle motion status, driven miles, and engine hours) for more than half an hour. For this to qualify under this type of malfunction, it must happen within 24 hours for all drivers using the commercial vehicle.

Timing Compliance Malfunction

This error happens when the ELD cannot meet the FMCSA compliance requirement and fails to record Coordinated Universal. The ELD time must be synchronized with UTC and can’t exceed the absolute deviation of more than 10 minutes at any time during the driver’s route.

Power Compliance Malfunction

This malfunction means that the ELD is not powered for an in-motion driving time of at least 30 minutes during the last 24 hours across all driver profiles.

Power Data Diagnostic

The event occurs when the ELD is not powered on and fully functional within one minute of turning on the engine. It remains in this condition for as long as the vehicle’s engine stays powered.

Positioning Compliance Malfunction

When the ELD cannot acquire a valid position measurement after driving a commercial motor vehicle for more than 60 minutes within 5 miles, the data diagnostic will return with a result of position compliance malfunction.

Missing Required Data Elements Data Diagnostic 

This issue happens when any required data field is missing at the time of its recording.

Data Transfer Compliance Malfunction 

DTCM occurs when the ELD stays in the unconfirmed data transfer mode for three consecutive monitoring checks or more.

Data Transfer Data Diagnostic 

This diagnostic event takes place when the operation of the data transfer mechanisms are not confirmed.

Unidentified Driving Records Data

This prompt appears when the device records more than half an hour of driving time for an unidentified driver within 24 hours. It

What Should A Driver Do When An ELD Malfunctions?

According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a driver required to use ELD should do the following actions upon noticing a malfunction indicator:

  • Take note of the malfunction(s) of the ELD and provide written notice of the fault to the motor carrier within 24 hours.
  • If the driver wasn’t able to get the records or retrieve the file of duty status for 24 hours and the previous seven consecutive days from the ELD, reconstruct the history of duty status, and document them on a graph-grid paper log, or electronic logging software that complies with 49 CFR 395.8.
  • Manually prepare the record of duty status following 49 CFR 395.8 until the ELD is serviced and back in compliance.

What Should A Motor Carrier Do When An ELD Malfunctions?

FMCSA also has some guidelines for motor carriers to follow in case an ELD returns with a diagnostic malfunction prompt. Discover

  • Within eight days of detecting a malfunction or receiving a driver’s notification to the motor carrier, whichever comes first, fix, repair, replace, or service the malfunctioning ELD.
  • Ask the driver to maintain a paper record of duty status until the device is back in service.

Interested in learning more? Find the ELD news.


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