ELDs and Rental Trucks: What You Need to Know

UPDATE – 10/11/17 – Short Term Rental Exemption

As the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate goes into force in December 2017, truck drivers won’t want to be caught in a truck without a device.

Whether your trucking fleet is grandfathered in with an automatic on-board recording device or will be getting an ELD for the first time, ELDs are an essential part of any fleet’s compliance plan.

As drivers come to rely on ELDs in daily use, it raises a big question: what happens if you’re in a truck without an ELD? For instance, your truck breaks down and you’re put in a short-term lease truck. Who’s responsible for keeping the Record of Duty Status? Will you have to revert to a paper log?

At the recent Omnitracs User Conference, Tom Cuthbertson, Vice President of Compliance at Omnitracs and Joe DeLorenzo, Director of the Office of Enforcement and Compliance and Associate Administrator of Enforcement for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, fielded questions from trucking fleet managers regarding ELDs in temporary use vehicles.

Here are some of the questions about the temporary use of ELDs in trucks, due to short-term rentals being required or an ELD being out of service.

Q: Are there exemptions or provisions for a short-term rental to replace a truck being repaired, or a longer seasonal rental for several weeks or months?
A: There are no special provisions for rentals or breakdowns. If the truck is in service that requires an ELD, then an ELD must be used. Also, there must be a system for retaining the driver’s record of duty status for the required six-month period.

Q: So there are no emergency provisions for short-term breakdowns?
A: Overall, breakdowns are not surprise events. They are a surprise for a given truck on a given day, but breakdowns happen in every fleet. That’s why you need to figure out your response ahead of time.

Q: How should the record of duty status be maintained and transferred?
A: The only requirement is that the driver has the ability to show the past seven days of records. If a temporary device is used that is the same type of device as the regular device, then services such as Omnitracs allow you to transfer the data. A paper record can be printed and carried by the driver and may be manually inputted into the record keeping system. Screenshots or photos of the record are acceptable if they are readable. The goal is to have a record that can be reviewed by an enforcement officer. If information from a printout is later put into the system, there must be a notation of how the data was collected and transferred.

Q: What happens if the ELD is out of service but the tractor remains in operation?
A: The regulation allows eight days to repair an ELD. A driver can be on paper for up to eight days. This provision only covers a broken ELD, not a temporary use truck or an out-of-service truck with a functional ELD.

Q: How can a fleet prepare for out-of-service tractors with ELDs?
A: Fleets should decide how they want to address it. They can keep spares on hand or have designated vendors for fast fulfillment, or arrange with their rental company to equip trucks with ELDs that are compatible with their system. Depending on the system installed, portable units can be moved from truck to truck. Remember, the driver display must be mounted visibly by the driver when the vehicle is in motion.

Q: Can I transfer portable devices between trucks?
A: With devices such as the Omnitracs Intelligent Vehicle Gateway (IVG), or a mobile device using XRS, those devices can be moved between vehicles. There is a registration process to pair the device with a particular vehicle so the duty status is recorded for the correct vehicle.

Q: If an ELD goes out of service but is fixed within eight days, how should the status updates be handled?
A: It’s OK to keep the paper logs on file for the six months. The system does not have to be updated with the driver’s records.

“Don’t over complicate your responses to breakdowns and other problems,” DeLorenzo said. “You have to make it easy for compliance officers to understand what you’re doing. The best thing to do is to figure out what you’ll do in a situation before it happens. Figure out your plan ahead of time.”


NOTE: The Truck Renting and Leasing Association (TRALA) has filed for an exemption with FMCSA for short-term rental vehicles from requiring ELDs for short-term breakdowns for up to 30 days. The exemption has been out for comment in www.regulations.gov. It will go through the regulatory process and end result published in the Federal Register.