Deadline update: Commercial fleets must replace paper logbooks


Electronic logging devices capture hours of driver service, downtime and other data.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has mandated that certain commercial vehicles use an electronic logging device (ELD) instead of paper logbooks. Previously announced regulations that took effect in December 2017 will be strictly enforced effective April 1, 2018.

Businesses with regulated commercial vehicles that require hours-of-service logging must replace paper logbooks with a self-certified ELD registered with FMCSA that electronically records a driver’s Record of Duty Status (RODS). Such fleets had until December 2017 to comply, subject to a period of “soft enforcement” that resulted in warnings or citations with penalties. That “soft enforcement” is ending; beginning April 1, enforcement will also cause the driver to be placed out of service. Violations will count against both the driver’s and carrier’s compliance, safety and accountability (CSA) scores.


The devices covered under the regulation do not change any requirement affecting the longstanding Hours of Service rules; they simply are a method to electronically capture the data. These devices also can capture a significant amount of other data, including inspection and fuel tax information and driving behavior such as speeding, idling and hard braking.

Many fleets have already transitioned to the ELD and have seen benefits ranging from increased safety performance to more efficient dispatch and reduced paperwork. Fleets that used Automatic On Board Recording Devices (AOBRD) before December 2017 have until December 2019 to convert to a self-certified ELD registered with FMCSA.

The FMCSA website has a list of self-certified providers of these devices. Managers of fleets that need to comply with this mandate should consult this site to determine if the devices they are considering are on the list. Smartphones and tablets are acceptable, as long as they meet the FMCSA’s requirements.


So what should you do if your fleet has not already met the mandate?

  • Determine if the current Hours of Service (HOS) rules require logs.
  • If the answer is “no,” no further action is required.
  • If the answer is “yes,” the company must:
    • Evaluate and select an ELD. The ELD must meet the regulations; find providers using the above link
    • Ensure ELDs are properly installed and functioning.
    • Properly train drivers and administrative staff to use them. Drivers should be able to edit and certify the time.
    • Companies may not use the system to coerce or harass a driver regarding HOS regulations.
  • Drivers need to know how to:
    • Edit and certify the RODS
    • Display/transfer the information to a compliance officer, if requested.

This may appear to be a confusing and daunting undertaking, but many resources are available to help meet the compliance deadline. Consult your attorney for specific legal guidance. Companies that fail to comply with the mandate are subject to being placed out of service. Continued noncompliance could result in the Department of Transportation issuing a shutdown order.

Policyholders of The Cincinnati Insurance Company can request fleet management loss control services by contacting their agent. Cincinnati agents with fleet accounts can request assistance through their Cincinnati loss control representative.

This loss control information is advisory only. The author assumes no responsibility for management or control of loss control activities. Not all exposures are identified in this article. Neither The Cincinnati Insurance Company nor its affiliates or representatives offer legal advice. Consult with your attorney about your specific situation.

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