Written by BSM, a Geotab Company
on November 01, 2017

As the ELD deadline looms near, many companies are trying to find electronic logging devices (ELDs) that meet the FMCSA’s requirements. Electronically keeping track of trip miles (as opposed to short distances for lot and yard moves) requires sophisticated calculations against engine run-time, vehicle speed and many other variables. The FMCSA, the body regulating the ELD mandate, provides an ELD checklist to help companies know exactly what they need to meet compliance.

ELDs are intended to help keep drivers safe by ensuring they’re operating within safety regulations. Companies need to record and save these logs, so they can verify to the FMCSA that their drivers are in compliance with hours of service regulations. This information comes from ELDs that provide data on the time the engine was active, the number of miles driven and whether the vehicle was in motion at any given point in time.


Not all ELDs meet FMCSA's requirements. If companies use a brand or model of ELD that doesn't meet the logging rules, the FMCSA may deem their logs invalid. If that happens, heavy fines may be applied. It’s essential for all companies to verify the ELD checklist provided by the FMCSA to ensure they're choosing an ELD that records the data according to the FMCSA’s regulations.

While many ELDs come with fleet management software (FMS), this isn't a requirement for federal ELD compliance. However, the benefits in fleet efficiency and operational savings can sometimes cover the cost of the solution, so it will be worthwhile determining if any meet your needs.

The FMCSA’s ELD Checklist

The simplest way to make sure a given ELD is compliant with regulations is to see if it's on FMCSA's list of ELDs. All vendors on the list have self-certified that their devices are compliant with FMCSA's regulations, and they've added compliant models to an FMCSA database.

In order to make sure you’re selecting a reliable ELD solution, it's a good idea to double-check any vendors against the Better Business Bureau's website and to consult online reviews for their product or seek out word-of-mouth recommendations. It's also wise to double-check the device's features against what the FMCSA has listed on their ELD Checklist. The checklist is a good resource to use when asking questions of prospective vendors.

ELD Features and Functions

The FMCSA has a full list of ELD requirements on their website. Notable feature requirements include:

  • Providing separate accounts for drivers and ELD administrators (such as supervisors)
  • Automatically recording all information at hourly intervals, including UTC-synchronized time, date, location, driver ID, the number of hours the vehicle has been active and the number of miles the vehicle's driven
  • "Integrally synchronizing" with the engine's control model to automatically record data about a vehicle's power and motion status
  • Recording data about a vehicle's location with an accuracy within one mile while a vehicle is on duty and driving, and within 10 miles while a vehicle is being used for authorized personal purposes
  • Requiring drivers to review any data about (apparently) unauthorized drivers, so they either claim this information as their own or indicate that the records are not theirs
  • Preventing any altering, erasure or other tampering with ELD data
  • Requiring driver certification for any edits made to records, with a written explanation of changes made
  • Retaining all data for both the current 24-hour period, as well as the past seven consecutive days
  • Providing all drivers with their log information upon request, whether electronically or via hard copy
  • Clearly displaying all data to authorized safety officials upon request

By checking against FMCSA's self-certified list, and by consulting the provider’s features against the ELD checklist, companies can choose an ELD that meets their needs. 

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