ELD Failures: How they happen, and what to do about them.

Electronic Logging Devices have become absolutely essential to the average truck driver’s daily routine. Thousands of fleet-operating businesses rely on tracking software and logging devices to keep their operations running smoothly. ELDs communicate directly with a vehicle’s engine and record driving activity, engine hours, ignition status, location, miles driven, and more. These statistics help businesses refine and optimize their routes and loads. Additionally, government regulations require many companies to utilize ELD to log duty status.  

So when your business relies on ELDs for optimization, and they’re also required to be operational in your fleet vehicles by law – what happens when they fail? How do you avoid running into compliance issues and keep operations running smoothly?  

ELD Regulation and Technical Compliance 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is part of the Department of Transportation and its primary aim is to improve the road safety of commercial vehicles and minimise accidents. They operate as the primary regulating body for the trucking industry in the United States and are responsible for the ELD mandate. Operating with an ELD is also a legal requirement in Canada per mandate by Transport Canada.  

ELDs are designed to track their own compliance with technical requirements and identify malfunctions in several areas including:  

  • Data Transmission 
  • GPS location and timing 
  • Engine power records 
  • Data Synchronization  

When an ELD recognizes that it may be malfunctioning, it alerts the driver. According to the FMCSA, there are two common types of ELD issues: Data diagnostics failures and ELD malfunctions.  

What constitutes an ELD Malfunction?  

An issue with the data diagnostics communicated by the ELD completely invalidate the use of the ELD in the first place. Data diagnostic issues can occur for a wide variety of reasons – physical mechanical failures, a loss of GPS, simple connectivity issues, or even just the ELD itself becoming detached from the Engine Control Module.  

Many data diagnostic problems can be assessed, troubleshot, and resolved by the drivers themselves when the ELD notifies them there is an issue.  

More serious ELD malfunctions occur in the event of loss of power to the device, mechanical malfunctions and data recording and backup failures. The FMCSA maintains a list of common malfunctions and their causes, as well as a driver’s responsibilities (along with their motor carrier) under the law should an ELD malfunction take place.  

In the event of a malfunction… 

Drivers must inform their carrier of the malfunction within 24 hours of the issue. Their carrier then has eight days to repair, service, or replace the ELD.  

In the event that the malfunction prevents the device from performing its primary function – recording Hours of Service (HOS) data – the driver is responsible for using either paper logs or a secondary system to record their HOS. Carriers can extend the time permitted for repair or replacement of the device by contacting the FMCSA.  

The bottom line when it comes to ELD malfunctions is that, if the issue isn’t resolvable by the driver immediately, the Hours of Service data must continue to be tracked until the device is operational again or replaced. By ensuring you have a backup in place or shifting to paper logs until the ELD is operating as intended, you can avoid potential compliance failure fines.