Maximize Fleet Efficiency with ELDs for Trucks

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Electronic logging devices (ELD) are the primary method truck drivers use to log hours in compliance with federal hours of service (HOS) regulations. To better help you understand how the ELD mandate affects your business and maintain compliance, we've put together this comprehensive ELD for trucks guide. 

What is an Electronic Logging Device (ELD)?

An Electronic Logging Device (ELD) is a device that automatically records a truck driver's hours of service (HOS) data. The ELD connects to the truck's engine and uses a combination of GPS and electronic control module (ECM) data to track engine hours, vehicle movement, and location information.

Truckers have been logging their hours for decades. However, ELDs are a relatively recent development. Here's a quick timeline of the history of logging in the trucking industry:

  • Before 1980, truck drivers primarily used paper logs to record their hours.
  • The first device, Automatic Onboard Recording Device (AOBRD), was used in 1988. The AOBRD was a rudimentary piece of equipment. The data was collected, and its functions were limited.
  • During the early 2000s and onward, ELD technology became more sophisticated, and the ELDs we see today started to take shape. 
  • In 2015 the FMCSA established an  ELD/HOS mandate.
  • From 2016 through the end of 2019, the FMCSA rolled out the mandate in three phases.
  • The mandate has been in full effect since 2019.

The strict nature of present-day ELDs and the mandate have increased HOS compliance industry-wide. The latest generation of ELDs is virtually impossible to tamper with or manipulate to violate HOS. If a driver violates HOS regulations, the device will flag the infraction.  

Despite the increase in compliance, there has also been an increase in accidents, and opponents of the ELD mandate argue that the device forces drivers to operate their vehicles in an unsafe manner. For example, drivers may drive faster than usual, take dangerous shortcuts, operate trucks more aggressively in heavy traffic, etc. in order to comply with HOS regulations.

In short, ELDs have increased HOS compliance. However, according to FMCSA statistics, accidents have also increased. 

Electronic Logging Devices for Trucks

Truck drivers have three options regarding the type of ELD device they use. If you are an owner-operator, choosing your ELD will be up to you. However, if you drive for a trucking company, you will typically be required to use the ELD provided to you by your company. 

The three main types of ELD are:

Plug-and-play ELDs

These devices are the simplest types of ELD to install and use. They plug directly into the truck's diagnostic port and typically have a screen display that shows driver and vehicle data. Some plug-and-play ELDs may have additional features such as Bluetooth connectivity for pairing with a mobile device.

Hard-wired ELDs

These devices are installed into the truck's electronic system and require a professional installer. They typically have more advanced features than plug-and-play ELDs, such as engine diagnostics and integrated fleet management software. Common ELDs used by trucking companies include  Qualcomm Omnitracs and Peoplenet Fleet Manager. 


Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) ELDs are designed to work with a driver's smartphone or tablet. These devices use an app installed on a smartphone or tablet. They are connected to the truck's onboard electronic system via Bluetooth, wi-fi, or USB. BYOD ELDs are usually less expensive than hard-wired ELDs.

Electronic Logging Device App

There are a handful of ELD apps approved by the FMCSA. However, there are some pros and cons you'll want to evaluate when considering an ELD app rather than a plug-and-play ELD or Hard-wired ELD:

Pros of using ELD apps:

  • Cost savings: ELD apps are generally less expensive than standalone ELD devices, making them a more affordable option for smaller carriers and owner-operators.
  • Convenience: Drivers can easily access their ELD data on their mobile devices, eliminating the need for a separate ELD device.
  • Flexibility: ELD apps are often more flexible than standalone devices, as they can be easily updated and customized to meet the carrier's or driver's specific needs.

Cons of using ELD apps:

  • Device reliability: ELD apps rely on the driver's mobile device, which can be subject to technical issues, malfunctions and pockets of disconnection, which can lead to inaccurate or missing data.
  • Data security: ELD apps may raise concerns about data security, as the data is stored on the driver's mobile device.

Overview of ELD apps available in the market:

Motive Driver is a popular ELD app offering real-time tracking, driver vehicle inspection reports (DVIR), and automated IFTA reporting. The app is available for iOS and Android devices and can be used with various hardware options.

BigRoad is another popular ELD app with features like HOS tracking, messaging, and IFTA reporting. The app is available for iOS and Android devices and can be used with various hardware options.

EROAD is a fleet management platform that includes ELD functionality. The platform includes real-time tracking, DVIR, and IFTA reporting features. The ELD functionality can be accessed through the EROAD mobile app, which is available for iOS and Android devices.

ELD apps offer a more flexible and cost-effective option for carriers and owner-operators to comply with the FMCSA ELD mandate. While there are some concerns about reliability and security, ELD apps can be a convenient and customizable solution for HOS and ELD mandate compliance. When selecting an ELD app, carriers look for features like ease of use, real-time tracking, and integration with fleet management software.

ELD Requirements for Trucks

There are some differences in ELD requirements between new trucks and older trucks:

  • New trucks have been required to use ELDs since December 2017, while older trucks were given until December 2019 to comply.
  • Older trucks may be exempt from the ELD mandate if they were manufactured before 2000 or do not have an engine control module (ECM). However, it's important to note that carriers and drivers exempt from the ELD mandate are still required to maintain records of duty status (RODS) using paper logs, electronic logging software, or automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs).
  • ELDs on new trucks must be integrated into the vehicle's engine, while older trucks may have more flexible installation options, such as plug-and-play or Bluetooth-enabled devices. However, all ELDs must meet the technical specifications outlined by the FMCSA, regardless of the truck's age. The use requirements for ELDs are the same for all trucks, regardless of their age.

Both new and older trucks can benefit from ELDs, including improved compliance with HOS regulations, increased efficiency in managing driver logs, and better communication between drivers and dispatchers. However, newer trucks may benefit more significantly due to their advanced technology and integration capabilities. In comparison, older trucks retrofitted with ELDs can still see improvements in efficiency and compliance. Additionally, using an ELD can help carriers and drivers avoid penalties for non-compliance with HOS regulations.

Wrap Up

ELDs are used today to promote safety and HOS compliance. They remain a legal requirement for truck drivers. Therefore, when selecting a type of ELD or an ELD app, evaluate your options and decide based on your business needs. 

Drivers can avoid fatigue and avoid risking HOS violations by better controlling their schedules. At CloudTrucks, you can do precisely that. Drivers who partner with CloudTrucks have 100% control over their schedules, and they get to pick their loads. So if you want more control over your career and operating schedule, move to CloudTrucks today.

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