Best ELDs for Trucking Fleets & Owner Operators in 2022

Published 11/1/2022

With hundreds of options available, selecting the right electronic logging device for your trucking company is no easy task. 

Some ELDs are simply designed to meet the FMCSA’s mandate while others are just a small component of a complete fleet management solution (FMS) that can include dash cams, GPS tracking, and more.

To simplify the process, we’ve researched more than 30 of the most popular ELD suppliers on the market and narrowed that list down to a handful of options we would recommend depending on a company’s needs.

For those just looking for a quick answer, here are our top choices.

Samsara
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Best ELD for Fleets
  • Top rated driver app 
  • Dashboard for fleet management
  • Feature-rich and easy to integrate with Samsara’s other FMS offerings
Motive (KeepTruckin)
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Runner-up for Fleets
  • Good reviews for driver app
  • Dashboard for fleet management
  • Feature-rich and FMS upgrades available
Blue Ink Technology
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Best ELD for Owner Operators
  • Does NOT require a monthly or annual subscription
  • Feature-rich for non-subscription products

Those that are interested in speaking with an advisor and getting quotes for their specific situation can fill out the form below. Keep reading for company reviews, guidance on the ELD mandate, and more.

Save by Comparing Quotes

About the author
Kyle Fretwell of TruckInfo.net
Kyle Fretwell has worked as a researcher and data-journalist for over a decade. His work has appeared in publications such as Bloomberg, Fox Business, MSN, USA Today, CNBC, and the Houston Chronicle.

He now manages TruckInfo.net's content team and is a regular fixture at the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville.

Finding The Best ELD Solution (Methodology)

To curate our list, we started with the most popular FMCSA-certified ELD companies and then filtered down the list to only companies that received top ratings in the Google Play Store. We then looked at pricing models, usability, reliability, features, and how easily an ELD solution would scale with a company.

However, the truth is that there is no single best ELD solution as an independent owner operator with a single truck will need a different solution than a fleet with hundreds of trucks. With that in mind, not all solutions were judged the same. Instead, we looked at how each option compared to other ELDs trying to fill a similar need.

ELDs vs Fleet Management Solutions

While all ELD solutions need to satisfy federal requirements set by the FMCSA, most devices on the market go above and beyond, offering a wide range of features and integrations. Oftentimes, these ELDs function as a just component in a larger fleet management solution (FMS).

However, there is no industry standard term for when an ELD officially becomes part of an FMS so it can get confusing. 

Fleet management solutions can include the following functionality:

  • Fleet Manager Dashboard – view and manage fleets from the cloud
  • Dispatching & Routing – optimize fleet performance
  • Dash Cams & Other Sensors – monitor driver performance, road incidents, and issues with vehicles or cargo
  • GPS Asset Tracking – track vehicles in real-time
  • Geofencing – alerts when assets depart from an assigned route or area
  • Fuel Management – insights into fuel consumption and how to improve efficiency
  • Driver Safety Ratings – records harsh braking, turning, or accelerating

Best ELD Devices & Companies

Samsara Vehicle IoT Gateway

Best ELD for Fleets

Samsara Driver App Hours of ServiceSamsara Driver App Duty StatusSamsara Driver App Navigation
Samsara Compliance DashboardSamsara ELD System Diagram

Pros

  • Top-rated driver app 
  • Dashboard for fleet management
  • Feature-rich and easy to integrate with Samsara’s other FMS offerings

Cons

  • ELDs are leased, not purchased
  • Requires a 3-year contract that is billed upfront

Overview

Samsara is our top choice for fleets because their driver app receives top marks in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, they have an intuitive and easy-to-use dashboard for fleet managers, and it integrates easily into the company’s suite of fleet management services.

ELD Device

Able to connect via 9 different cable ports, Samsara’s ELD solution is compatible with nearly every truck on the market and can be self-installed in minutes. Samsara runs on a BOYD model (bring your own device), that allows drivers to manage their logs using an Apple or Android mobile app. Drivers connect to the device through its WiFi hotspot, which is powered by the data plan that comes with all licenses. 

While drivers may occasionally lose data driving through remote areas, the information is saved on the device and will be transferred once a connection is restored. Benefits to the Wifi hotspot models include:

  1. Compared to devices that connect via Bluetooth, drivers won’t burn through their phone’s battery life as quickly
  2. The standard data plan license includes 500MB of data each month, which should support most work-related mobile apps for drivers

The driver app is easy to navigate and allows drivers to easily set duty status, which is automatically updated based on the vehicle’s data. Additional features the mobile app offers include:

  • Digital DVIR
  • Routing & Navigation
  • Driver Safety Stats & Leaderboards
  • Instant Document Capture
  • Two-Way Messaging
  • IFTA Reporting
  • Team Driving Capabilities

Fleet managers and dispatchers can also view the data in real-time on a desktop, tablet, or smartphone so they can monitor logs, suggest edits, and optimize routes. 

Cost

The biggest drawback to the Samsara ELD is the pricing model. Companies that run Samsara ELDs aren’t actually buying the devices or ELD software. Instead, they are leasing the ELDs. Companies are required to start with a 3-year contract at $39/month for each unit, which is slightly more expensive than other options but the features and usability can be worth it depending on the fleet. Samsara charges the entire contract upfront though, so companies will need to pay $1,404 to get up and running.

Fleet Management Options

One of Samsara’s biggest advantages is that the ELD integrates with the company’s other offerings to offer one of the best fleet management solutions on the market. In addition to ELD compliance the company offers the following products and solutions:

  • Dispatching
  • Telematics and GPS Tracking with Geofence Alerts
  • AI Dash Cams
  • Side/Rear/Interior Cameras
  • Fuel Management
  • Maintenance Reporting & Diagnostics
  • Wireless Sensors
  • App Marketplace for Integrating with TMS, Payroll, Etc
  • APIs for Everything Else

Motive Vehicle Gateway (formerly KeepTruckin)

Runner-up for Fleets

Motive HOS Driver AppMotive Driver App HOS TrackingMotive Compliance DashboardMotive Dash CamMotive Driver Performance Tracking

Pros

  • Good reviews for driver app
  • Dashboard for fleet management
  • Feature-rich and FMS upgrades available

Cons

  • ELDs are leased, not purchased
  • Some customer service complaints online

Overview

The most popular ELD on the market according to Google Play Store downloads, Motive has slightly lower reviews from drivers compared to Samsara but is still well-liked by drivers when compared to most other options. Compared to the Samsara, the Motive ELD is similarly priced and also provides a full-featured device and software. 

We also like that fleets can easily upgrade their services for a full fleet management solution.

ELD Device

Motive’s Vehicle Gateway is easy to install and can connect to virtually any truck on the market with a wide range of adapters available. Once installed, drivers can either connect to the ELD through its mobile WiFi hotspot or Bluetooth.

Like Samsara, the annual license comes with 500MB of data each month that drivers can also use to use apps or browse the internet on their phones. If the mobile hotspot loses connection, information will be stored on the ELD and will be automatically updated once a connection is restored. The Bluetooth connectivity provides peace of mind, however, in case a driver is pulled over when they don’t have service. Drivers with Android phones can also connect via USB.

Like Samsara, Motive makes it easy for fleet and compliance managers to monitor their drivers and fleets in real-time through their fleet dashboard. iOS and Android apps are also available for fleet managers.

In addition to basic ELD functionality like automated driver logs, the Motive ELD also offers additional functionality such as:

  • Electronic Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports
  • IFTA Reporting
  • Two-Way Messaging
  • Team Driving Capabilities
  • Document Management
  • GPS Tracking

Cost

While Motive doesn’t publicly advertise their prices, third-party websites suggest their ELD software compliance package starts at $25/month but with fairly limited functionality. Most companies will want to upgrade to their $40/month package which includes IFTA reporting, fuel management, and driver safety reports. Companies are usually required to sign an annual contract.

However, companies will also need to purchase the device upfront but Motive also doesn’t publicly state how much this costs so potential customers will need to inquire about getting a quote.

Fleet Management Options

Like Samsara, Motive also offers a wide range of services for fleet management. Rather than cobbling together different products and services, companies can save time and usually money by selecting a single provider to handle everything they need to manage their fleet.

In addition to their ELDs, Motive also offers the following products and functionality:

  • Fleet Dispatch Software
  • Dash Cams & Other Camera Integrations
  • Telematics and Geofencing
  • Fuel Management
  • Fuel Cards with Spend Analysis
  • An Integration & App Marketplace for TMS, Load Boards, Insurance, and More
  • A Public API for Everything Else

Blue Ink Technology ELD

Best ELD for Owner Operators & Pickup Trucks

Blue Ink Technology Hours of Service (HOS)Blue Ink Technology Hours AvailableBlue Ink Technology Vehicle Inspection ReportsBlue Ink Technology Fuel TrackingBlue Ink Technology Fleet Management Dashboard

Pros

  • Does NOT require a monthly or annual subscription
  • Feature-rich for non-subscription products

Cons

  • Connects via Bluetooth
  • Generally positive but still mixed app reviews

Overview

Unlike the first two options on our list, the Blue Ink ELD does not require a subscription service, which is a big plus for owner operators or small fleets that don’t want to spend extra on extra fleet management services they don’t need. Instead, the ELD device focuses on the important functionality a small trucking company needs. 

For a one-time purchase of $295, trucking companies get an FMCSA-compliant ELD device that is relatively feature-rich with features like paperless DVIRs, IFTA reporting, GPS tracking, and vehicle maintenance monitoring.

ELD Device

The Blue Ink Technology (or BIT) ELD can connect to most trucks, including medium-duty pickup trucks hauling hot shot loads. Drivers are then able to connect to the device on their phone via Bluetooth. Information will then be uploaded to the cloud using data from the driver’s phone or the next time they connect to WiFi. 

In addition to the basic ELD functionality such as HOS logging, edits, and notifications, BIT also comes standard with the following functionality:

  • Paperless DVIR
  • IFTA Reporting
  • Fuel Receipt Tracking
  • Document Capture
  • GPS Tracking

While not a full-service fleet management solution, owners and fleet managers can view the status of their fleets through an FMS dashboard.

Cost

Blue Ink Technology sells its ELD for a one-time fee of $295, making it one of the few popular ELD devices that doesn’t require a monthly or annual subscription.

The closest competitor would be the Garmin eLog, which also sells for $295. Compared to the BIT ELD, the Garmin eLog has better user reviews in the Google Play Store and Apple App Store but it is less feature-rich.

Fleet Management Options

While Blue Ink Technology does offer GPS fleet tracking, the ELD device caters to smaller fleets and doesn’t offer additional FMS features like fuel management/analysis, dash cams, dispatching, or routing.

Garmin eLog ELD

Top ELD for Owner Operators & Small Fleets

Garmin eLog HOS
Garmin eLog Available Hours
Garmin eLog Change of StatusGarmin eLog ProfileGarmin eLog Available Hours

Pros

  • Top rated mobile app
  • Does NOT require a monthly or annual subscription
  • Integrates with Garmin’s dezl GPS devices

Cons

  • Light on features
  • Requires a dezl device for IFTA reporting

Overview

The Garmin eLog is a great choice for owner operators and small fleets looking for an affordable ELD that doesn’t have a lot of extra features. Compared to the Blue Ink ELD, the Garmin eLog has better reviews in both the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store but it is lighter on features.

Another big selling point is that the device does not require a subscription to use. Instead, trucking companies purchase the device outright.

ELD Device

The Garmin eLog Compliant ELD is easy to install and comes with a 9-pin J1939 and a 6-pin J1708 diagnostic port out of the box, which should work with most semi-trucks. The device isn’t compatible with vehicles using the OBD2 protocol and Volvo trucks will require a 16-pin to 9-pin adapter cable. 

Drivers can interface with the app on their smartphone that can connect to the device through Bluetooth or a USB port. Drivers without a smartphone can still use the Garm eLog ELD but will need a compatible Garmin dezl GPS device that has the app pre-installed.

In addition to Hours of Service recordings, drivers can also use the mobile app for Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports. The biggest drawback to the Garmin eLog, however, is that the device cannot generate IFTA reports without integrating with a Garmin dezl device.

Cost

One of the biggest selling points of the Gramin eLog ELD is that it retails for $249.99 and does not require a monthly or annual subscription. 

While the upfront cost may be harder to swallow for some truckers, the subscription payments for other devices quickly add up over the long run.

Fleet Management Options

Being a great budget ELD option is not without its drawbacks. The Garmin eLog ELD is not feature-rich and Garmin does not offer a suite of fleet management solutions that it can be paired with to set up a full fleet management system.

HOS247 ELD

Great for Small to Medium Fleets

HOS247 HOSHOS247 Hours AvailableHOS247 Navigation PageHOS247 Fleet Management PortalHOS247 Fleet Tracker

Pros

  • Top-rated driver app 
  • Fleet management dashboard
  • Competitive pricing and features

Cons

  • Subscription model
  • Fewer FMS options than larger competitors

Overview

While less popular than some of the other ELD companies on our recommendation list, HOS247 trails only Samsara when it comes to driver reviews in the two major app stores. 

Feature-wise, the HOS247 ELD stands up to most competitors but it does fall short with third-party integrations compared to Samsara and Motive (formerly KeepTruckin). For smaller to medium-sized fleets that care more about a cheaper price point, the HOS247 is a great option.

ELD Device

The HOS247 connects to most vehicles via 6-pin, 9-pin, OBD2, or OBD2 Volvo/Mack ports. Drivers can then connect to the ELD device via Bluetooth on their smartphone and information is sent to the fleet management dashboard using the phone’s 4G data network. However, the device does not require data to function, just to send the information to the cloud so it’s accessible in the dashboard.

Most drivers love the HOS247 Electronic Logbook App for its intuitive interface and rich features. In addition to an electronic logging system, the ELD also allows drivers to electronically perform DVIRs and supports team driving in the US and Canada.

Cost

While the HOS247 ELD does require a monthly or annual subscription, the entry-level package is quite competitive. Starting at $19/month per vehicle, trucking companies receive a free ELD device, a driver app with electronic DVIRs, and a fleet management portal.

Companies can add on GPS fleet tracking for another $3 ($22 total) and IFTA reporting for another $3 ($25 total). Even with these add-ons, the HOS247 costs less than most top-rated solutions.

Fleet Management Options

From a fleet management perspective, the HOS247 provides many of the basic features such as HOS compliance, automated IFTA reporting, and GPS tracking but it falls short of larger competitors. The company does not offer dash cams, wireless sensors, or as many third-party integrations as larger competitors.

For smaller fleets, this shouldn’t be much of an issue as these features may not be required and those that are can use third-party solutions. Though integrating these different solutions may be more difficult (or impossible). 

HOS247 does integrate with a few third-party applications, however, which is uncommon for a smaller ELD manufacturer. They offer integrations with Project44, Descartes MacroPoint, and C.H. Robinson.

BridgeHaul HOS & NavigationBridgeHaul Navigation PageBridgeHaul RoutingBridgeHaul Fleet Management DashboardBridgeHaul IFTA Reporting

BridgeHaul ELD

Good for Small Fleets

Pros

  • Great user reviews
  • Competitive pricing
  • Feature-rich driver app

Cons

  • Requires an annual subscription
  • Designed to be a single solution FMS, which not be suitable for larger fleets

Overview

Like HOS247, BridgeHaul is a smaller ELD company with great reviews in the Apple App Store and Google Play Store. However, rather than focusing just on ELDs and fleet management features, BridgeHaul offers a suite of software solutions for trucking and logistics. 

For small trucking companies looking for a single solution for ELDs, navigation, load boards, and more, BridgeHaul is worth looking into.

ELD Device

The BridgeHaul ELD can connect to most vehicles using a 6-pin, 9-pin, or OBD2 port. Drivers connect to the device via Bluetooth and will transfer data to the fleet management dashboard using the phone’s data plan. 

From the dashboard, fleet managers can monitor their entire fleet in real-time, see driver ETAs, and dispatch drivers.

In addition to keeping companies ELD compliant, the driver app also offers the following functionality:

  • Free load board
  • Electronic DVIRs
  • Navigation & truck stop locator
  • Automated IFTA reporting
  • Document management

Regarding the navigation system within the app, it’s important to note that BridgeHaul does not offer truck-specific routing. So while the app is helpful for locating important stops, many over-the-road trucking companies will still need to find a truck-specific navigation solution.

Cost

For fleets and owner operators that plan on utilizing BridgeHaul’s other features, the ELD is a great deal at only $17.50/month per vehicle. There are no upfront costs and all of the other features are included at no extra charge.

Fleet Management Options

While BridgeHaul’s FMS solutions may not be as robust as other options, a big advantage of choosing BridgeHaul is that all of their services are included at no extra cost. For carriers and owner operators, this can include:

  • DVIR Reports
  • Routing
  • Dispatching
  • Finance Reporting
  • Automated IFTA
  • Load Board Access

Other ELDs Reviewed

In addition to the list of providers above, TruckInfo.net researched more than 30 ELD solutions. Below is a quick summary of the more popular options that we reviewed. 

Verizon Connect

Looking at Google Play Store downloads, the Verizon Reveal ELD Logbook app is one of the most popular solutions on the market. With more than 100,000 downloads, the app is commonly used but does not score as well with drivers as other options. However, Verizon’s ELD solution really isn’t designed to be a single stand-alone solution. Instead, Verizon Connect offers a full suite of fleet management solutions that caters to large fleets. Because solutions are tailored to a company’s needs, they don’t advertise prices publicly.

JJ Keller

Like Verizon Connect, JJ Keller is one of the most popular ELD apps in the Google Play Store by number of downloads but does not receive top marks from drivers. JJ Keller also caters to larger fleets and offers a full range of FMS solutions. Pricing also isn’t publicly advertised because FMS packages are customized based on needs.

Rand McNally

Somewhat overshadowed by their GPS navigation devices, Rand McNally is still a major player in the ELD space. Their devices require a subscription but can be paired with a wide range of devices via Bluetooth. As of October 2022, their app in the Google Play Store was rated 4.1 but there have been isolated reports of IT managers not loving the system.

Transflo

The second most popular driver app on the Google Play Store by downloads, Transflo was middle of the pack for user ratings. However, that doesn’t mean Transflo isn’t worth looking into for fleets. The company offers a wide range of solutions for fleet management such as driver scorecards, a telematics portal, and accident reconstruction via GPS, gyroscopes, and accelerometer data.

My20 ELD

A smaller ELD company, My20 by Konexial receives strong reviews for their mobile app. In addition to the basics, they also offer GPS tracking, IFTA reporting, navigation, messaging, and a fleet management dashboard with their entry-level ELD package. Companies that wish to upgrade can add on fuel tracking, document management, geofencing, engine diagnostics, and driver behavior reporting. Trucking companies will need to purchase the ELD hardware for each truck and then purchase an annual subscription for the software. Subscriptions range $25 to $40/month for each vehicle.

EZLOGZ ELD

EZLOGZ pitches itself as an all-in-one fleet management, ELD, and asset-tracking solution. In addition to ELD devices, the company also offers dash cams, load boards, GPS tracking, DVIRs, IFTA reporting, and more. While the device does come with a subscription fee, companies are not locked into annual or multi-year contracts. Their Android app was ranked in the top half of the companies we researched. 

Trucker Path ELD Pro

In partnership with Gorilla Safety, Trucker Path’s ELD offers a range of features including DVIRs, IFTA reporting, vehicle diagnostics, GPS tracking, and a free load board. Companies can also upgrade for navigation and fuel management. The Trucker Path ELD requires an annual contract starting at $21.66/month and has slightly above-average reviews for its mobile app.

Geotab

Like Verizon Connect and Samsara, Geotab is a full-service FMS solution that offers ELDs. In addition to HOS tracking, Geotab offers DVIRs, IFTA reporting, fuel usage monitoring, GPS/asset tracking, maintenance tracking, driver scorecards, TMS integrations, and more. Their driver app is one of the top ELD mobile apps by downloads and has a slightly above-average rating.

Lytx

In addition to the ELD basics like HOS logs and DVIR, Lytx also offers dash cams, driver safety solutions, and real-time fleet tracking. The company also integrates with a number of other technology companies, such as Geotab, CarriersEdge, and Locus. Unfortunately, the company does not offer pricing information online. Compared to other providers, the company has average reviews for its mobile app.

Switchboard

Switchboard is a straightforward ELD that does not require a monthly subscription for small fleets or owner operators. In addition to Hours of Service compliance, drivers can also prepare DVIRs. For larger fleets willing to pay a monthly subscription fee, companies can unlock additional features like automated IFTA reporting, vehicle diagnostics, dash cams, asset tracking, and driver analytics. The company also allows drivers to skip weigh stations when eligible. The company has slightly above-average ratings for its mobile app for drivers. 

BigRoad Dashlink

One of the most downloaded Android apps, BigRoad caters to everything from owner operators to large fleets. While their mobile app has a slightly below-average rating, the company offers a full suite of fleet management tools with functionality that includes GPS tracking, driver safety records, DVIR, and video telematics by Fleet Complete. Interested customers will need to request a quote to get pricing.

Azuga

Azuga offers a full suite of FSM solutions for trucking and other trades such as construction, telecom, pest control, and landscaping. In addition to an ELD device, the company also offers dash cams, fleet tracking, routing, maintenance, driver safety, and driver reward programs. However, the driver app for Azuga devices is powered by VisTracks, an open platform software that can be paired with many different hardware devices. The VisTracks mobile Android and iOS apps have slightly below-average ratings in the app stores.

TruckingOffice

Famous for its trucking management solutions, TruckingOffice also offers an ELD that integrates with their TMS software. In addition to HOS and DVIR, the TruckingOffice ELD also automates IFTA, IRP, and simplifies tax preparation. TruckingOffice works on a subscription model of $20 a month and customers will need to purchase a $45 adapter for the hardware device if their vehicle uses anything other than a 9-pin j1939 ECM. Compared to other apps we reviewed, the TruckingOffice driver app received lower-than-average reviews.

Gorilla Safety

The entry-level package for the Gorilla Safety ELD just handles elogs, GPS tracking, and a fleet manager portal but customers can upgrade to FMS packages that include DVIRs, fuel tracking, IFTA reporting, and integrate their roadrunner dash cam. The driver app has received slightly below-average ratings compared to competing apps.

GPS Trackit

The GPS Trackit ELD is only a single component in the company’s fleet management system which also includes video telematics, field service management, asset tracking, and more. The ELD supports IFTA and makes it easy for dispatchers, brokers, receivers, and shippers to track their freight. Potential customers should read through their app store reviews and demo the product before buying, however, as the company has received lower than average app store reviews.

PeopleNet

PeopleNet is one of the more popular ELD apps by downloads and while the company offers a full suite of transportation management tools, the app store reviews are less than average. However, larger fleets may still want to look into PeopleNet to learn about their wide range of products and solutions.

Omnitracs

Omnitracs has a reputation for being a more affordable ELD solution but that comes with a somewhat clunky user interface and less-than-average reviews in the app store. The company also offers fleet management software, a load board, trailer and asset tracking, driver safety, and routing solutions. 

Teletrac Navman

Teletrac pitches itself as an AI powered telematics platform. In simpler terms, the company offers a full range of solutions for fleets including maintenance scheduling, fuel management, GPS tracking, route optimization, dash cams, and more. Additionally, Teletrac Navman integrates with more than 30 different software solutions including McLeod, C.H. Robinson, Fleetio, Paragon, Route4Me, Thermo King, and more. While the company lists major organizations like Ryder, the American Red Cross, and Two Men and a Truck as clients, their mobile apps have no reviews on either major app store.

What is an electronic logging device or ELD system?

An electronic logging device, or ELD, is a federally mandated device that automatically tracks a driver’s Hours of Service logs by connecting directly to the commercial vehicle’s engine.

Drivers typically interface with the ELD through a tablet or smartphone app but some providers also supply dedicated hardware devices. During a roadside inspection, the “trucking elogs” can be securely transferred via USB, Bluetooth, wireless web services, or email.

Higher-end ELD solutions also collect and report on additional information for drivers and fleet managers such as fuel usage, the vehicle’s real-time location, and safety-related incidents such as harsh braking or abrupt turning. This additional information helps companies track their assets, optimize their fleet operations, and better serve their customers.

Higher-end ELD devices are usually offered by fleet management solution companies or are compatible with their software and can be paired with dash cams and other devices.


ELD Mandate & Requirements

As of December 16th, 2019, all motor carriers, owner operators, and drivers that are required to keep Records of Duty Service (RODS) are required to use an electronic logging device. 

The ELD mandate had no impact on the HOS rules and regulations. Rather it just replaces paper logs and automatic-on-board recording devices, which are less accurate and can be more easily falsified.


Who needs an ELD?
  • Motor carriers and their drivers that are required to maintain Records of Duty Status
  • Owner operators that are required to maintain RODS
  • Drivers domiciled in Canada or Mexico that keep RODS are not exempt from the ELD mandate
Who does not need an ELD?
  • Drivers that are not required to keep RODS
  • Drivers that keep RODS but meet one of the following exemptions:
  1. Use paper RODS for not more than 8 days out of every 30-day period
  2. Only conduct drive-away-tow-away operations in which the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered
  3. If the commercial vehicle’s manufactured date is before 2000

ELD Device Requirement FAQs

Can truckers still use paper logs? 

Only truck drivers that use paper logs for no more than 8 days during any 30-day period are exempt from the new ELD rule.

Are older trucks exempt?

Yes, trucks that were manufactured before 2000 are not required to use an ELD.

ELD Benefits

While some truckers view ELDs as limiting their autonomy (and ability to fudge their logbook when “necessary”), electronic logging devices actually offer a number of benefits. These benefits can include:

  • Improved Efficiency – truck drivers can spend less time on paperwork and fleet managers can take a more proactive approach to fleet management
  • Safer Driving – while trucking companies can hold their drivers accountable, drivers also can’t be pressured into additional driving when they may be sleepy or tired
  • Faster dispatch – ELDs that give real-time GPS tracking allows companies to more effectively dispatch their drivers
  • Increased Fuel Efficiency – truckers with insight into their fuel usage can optimize their driving habits and reduce idling
  • Reduced Liability – ELD systems that record safety incidents and vehicle location can help companies defend themselves from false claims
  • More Accurate Records – because ELDs monitor the engine performance, records can be accurate down to the minute

How do ELDs work?

To be FMCSA compliant, electronic logging devices connect to the vehicle’s engine through the onboard diagnostic (OBD) port and automatically record the following information to track Hours of Service:

  • Engine Power Status
  • Vehicle Motion Status
  • Miles Driven
  • Engine Hours
  • Information on the Driver, Vehicle, and Motor Carrier
  • Duty Status

Drivers can view, annotate, certify, and even edit their logs but the original record is still saved and viewable to law enforcement and fleet managers. Motor carriers can also suggest edits to non-driving time, which must be accepted by the driver to get recorded.

ELDs also allow drivers to log Personal Conveyance time when they are driving for personal reasons. Yard Move is a similar setting that indicates when drivers are moving the vehicle but just around a private property or other driving where the main intent is not transporting the vehicle to a different location. Yard Move hours are not counted toward a driver’s daily driving limit but it is recorded as on-duty status.

While the list above is the bare minimum for ELD compliance, the top devices collect and record additional data to help drivers and fleet managers perform their jobs. This information can include:

  • Real-time GPS tracking (while FMCSA ELDs include GPS tracking, the mandate does not require as precise data as many fleet managers prefer)
  • Fuel-related reports on efficiency, idling time, and mileage 
  • Automated IFTA fuel tracking
  • Engine diagnostic and fault code reporting
  • Reports on driving habits like harsh braking/turning, sudden acceleration, or speeding
  • Geofencing alerts for when vehicles leave a predetermined boundary

How much does an ELD cost?

According to the FMCSA, the typical ELD with telematics costs $419 per year, or approximately $35 per month.

While ELDs with telematics are the most popular devices, ELDs that use Bluetooth or USB 2.0 to transfer data are significantly cheaper, with an average price point of $166.

When comparison shopping, fleet owners and fleet managers should keep in mind that many ELDs are not a one-time purchase. Many ELD providers give the device away for free or charge a nominal fee and then make their money on a monthly or annual subscription fee. Some providers also try to lock in trucking companies for annual contracts.

Fleets that opt for a full-service fleet management system will have higher costs but also provide additional benefits that may end up saving money in the long run.

FAQs on Electronic Logging Devices

Will an ELD shut down the engine once Hours of Service has been reached?

No, an ELD will not shut down the engine once a trucker has reached their driving limit but a violation will be recorded.

Do ELDs automatically report Hours of Service violations to law enforcement?

No, ELDs do not automatically report HOS violations to law enforcement. Drivers and motor carriers can only get in trouble when law enforcement or safety officials manually audit a driver’s logs.

What happens if a driver goes over their 14-hour limit?

Truck drivers cannot drive again until they have been off duty for another 10 consecutive hour period or the equivalent of at least 10 consecutive hours off duty. Drivers that violate this rule and get caught may be placed out of service until they are eligible to drive again, incur fines, or damage their carrier’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability score. Other penalties can include increased insurance premiums, a CDL suspension, receiving a misdemeanor, etc. 

Does going off duty stop your clock?

No, going off duty does not reset the 14-hour window. Drivers must be off duty for a minimum of 10 consecutive hours to reset the 14-hour window.

Can a driver go off duty while being unloaded?

No, a driver is still considered on duty while the vehicle is being loaded and unloaded. The one exception to this rule is if the trailer is disconnected from the power vehicle and the driver is able to stop the truck and leave the client’s property as they see fit.

What happens if an ELD is unplugged?

If an ELD is unplugged from the electronic control module (ECM), the ELD will record the odometer jump between when it was unplugged and then plugged back in. If the ECM loses connectivity for more than 30 minutes during a 24-hour period, an engine synchronization malfunction will be recorded. Drivers that unplug their ELD may be fined if caught by law enforcement.

What happens if a driver subject to the ELD mandate is stopped for a roadside inspection and does not have an ELD installed and in use?

If a driver is caught driving without an ELD, they will be cited and placed out of service for at least 10 hours. After the 10-hour period, they may complete their current trip using paper logs but cannot be dispatched again until the vehicle is fitted with an FMCSA-compliant ELD.

Can I cheat or falsify my ELD logs?

No, it is not possible to falsify ELD logs. If an ELD is unplugged, the fleet manager will be notified and safety officials will be able to tell when looking at the RODS.

Can motor carriers charge owner operators for ELDs?

While there is a legal precedent that motor carriers cannot charge owner operators for ELD devices, this was ruled before the ELD mandate. Now that the ELD mandate is in effect, the courts will likely treat it similarly to bobtail insurance, which carriers can require their owner operators to carry.

What’s the difference between an ELD and AOBRD?

Before the ELD mandates, an AOBRD, or automatic onboarding recording device, allowed truck drivers to digitally log their Hours of Service. Functionally, AOBRDs were very similar to ELDs. However, AOBRDs do not meet the new ELD requirements and can no longer be used.

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