Many of you might have already heard about the ELD mandate or ELD Final rule. It affects most of the trucking industry including those in the hotshot business. This article will tell you more about this mandate as applicable to hotshot truckers.

The ELD mandate is a regulation by the U.S. federal government requiring operators of commercial motor vehicles subject to this law to use electronic logging devices (ELDs). The ELDs will replace paper logs and other earlier types of recorder known as Automatic On-Board Recording Device (AOBRD). By December 16, 2019, all motor carriers that still use the old AOBRDs should use ELDs.

ELDs records data related to driver’s activity (hours of service or HOS) and operation of the vehicle. These devices will track if a commercial driver stays within the required maximum number of hours between rest periods.

Do hotshot drivers and fleets have to use ELDs?

Yes, hotshot drivers and fleets who are required to prepare Records of Duty Status (RODS) are also required to install ELDs. The main criteria include:

  • Involved in interstate commerce.
  • The vehicle weighs 10,001 pounds or more (GVWR or GCWR whichever is higher)
  • The load includes hazardous materials and require placards

Some hotshot drivers are exempt from installing ELDs. In particular, the FMCSA exempts those vehicles that do not require CDLs and operate within 150-air-mile radius of their office. The following are also exempt:

  • Drivers on short-haul trips within a 100-air-mile radius
  • Drivers who keep paper RODS for eight days or less for each 30-day period
  • Driveaway-towaway drivers who deliver a vehicle as a commodity for sale, lease or repair
  • Drivers of vehicles manufactured before 2000

How do ELDs work?

ELDs track and prepare hours-of-service (HOS) reports automatically. The FMCSA requires that an ELD should be integrally synchronized with the engine through ECM (engine control module). This allows the device to generate RODs and to capture the required data which include the engine and motion status, engine hours and miles driven. Every record also comes with a vehicle location from GPS. 

Using a combination of ELD and a mobile application software allows you to see the data on your smartphone and other mobile devices. An inspection officer can then view, print or email your data upon request.

How much does it cost to be ELD-mandate compliant?

The cost of an ELD varies widely depending on the features and capabilities. The average cost is estimated to be between $25 and $35 per month.

How will the government detect whether I’m compliant to the mandate or not?

Non-compliance to the ELD mandate can be detected during a roadside inspection or a DOT audit. After December 16, 2019, the penalties for not complying with the mandate can be stiff. The fines can be as much as $11,000 aside from the possible temporary or shutdown orders.

Benefits of ELD

You may think that installing an ELD system is just an added business cost and compliance is the only reason to install. But the truth is, ELD has many other benefits. When properly used, your ELD system can help streamline your operation and maximize productivity.

Here are the top benefits of using ELD:

1. Minimizes administrative work and adds more time on the road

Hotshot drivers spend about 20-30 hours a year to fill out logs and prepare their hours of service (HOS). ELDs automate that part of your job, eliminating many of the steps for collecting data that drivers are required to do each day. You don’t have to manually record your HOS, location and other information. This will take out a lot of paperwork on your part. 

Moreover, ELDs allow you to round off to the nearest minutes for stops, unlike paper logbooks which require you to round up to the nearest 15 minutes. This could mean an extra 5 to 10 drivable hours a week which can lead to more income.

2. Expedites Inspection

In the event of a DOT audit or roadside inspection, your ELD system will make it easier for the inspecting officer to access and view the HOS data. You don’t have to check through your handwritten logs to find errors. This expedites the inspection process which means you can get back to business a lot sooner. 

3. Ensures HOS Compliance

ELDs are designed to send an audible alert to remind that you are nearing a certain limit to ensure that you remain HOS compliant. This will help you avoid getting violations for missing a required 30-minute break or running out of driving hours. 

4. Eliminates Errors

Drivers are prone to mistakes when manually logging hours of service or location on a logbook. Poor recording and reporting in logbooks can lead to rising CSA scores and fines.

With an ELD in place, most data such as the HOS, location and IFTA fuel tax are automatically calculated and recorded. As a result, you’ll have a more accurate data for reporting.

5. Helps Track Your Fleet

The accuracy of ELD allows for better-informed and more efficient operation. You can easily monitor your trailer’s location in real time without texting or calling your driver. Some ELDs also integrate dispatch software to help drivers find shorter and more efficient routes. All these integrations can improve fleet productivity.

6. Helps Save on Fuel

As ELD tracks the vehicle’s engine activity, it will tell how much time your truck is idling and just burning gas. If you have a fleet, this feature helps you identify drivers who spend more time idling. With this information, you can promote better driving habits to reduce the amount of fuel spent on idling trucks.

7. Paves the way for roadside assistance 

Even if your vehicle is in the best condition, you’ll never know when you would need roadside assistance. With ELD in place, your dispatcher can quickly see your location and help direct a nearby shop or tow truck to assist.

8. Improves Safety

ELDs promote efficient route management, prevent driver fatigue and help identify bad driving behaviors. All these can improve your safety on the road. FMCSA estimates that ELDs will help prevent 562 injuries and 26 deaths every year. 

9. Allows you to get Lower Insurance Premiums

Insurers know that fleets with ELD are safer than those with no such technology. That is one of the reasons why many insurers offer lower premiums or better packages to businesses that are ELD compliant.

10. Helps improve your CSA Scores

With ELDs, drivers can avoid going beyond the hours they are supposed to. Also, other common errors are eliminated such as outdated logs, falsification of logs and Form & Manner violations. All these factors can help improve your CSA scores which could lead to better business opportunities.

11. Helps with Vehicle Diagnostics

ELDs are connected to the vehicle’s diagnostic port, allowing the device to monitor fault codes. You’ll be able to receive real-time notifications whenever the device detects a fault code. This helps you identify vehicle maintenance issues early on so you can take precautionary measures.


ELDs may be expensive but with all its benefits that result in a more efficient and effective workflow, they can pay for themselves. Overtime, you’ll get more value than the cost of your ELD.