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ELD Malfunction: The Complete Guide For Truckers

Everyone in the fleet industry knows that FMCSA takes safety and compliance very seriously. So when it comes to ELDs, you need to be extra cautious. Just installing them in your vehicle or fleet does not mean the job is done; you must have a compliant ELD and always be in working status. However, like all other machines, ELD is bound to have some issues, and you must rectify them on priority. 

But how do you identify these ELD malfunctions? How do you resolve them? Let’s take a detailed look at this ELD Failure: A Truckers’ Guide, where we explore ELD issues, and the common causes and provide practical solutions for hardworking truck drivers to handle them.

What is an ELD and How Does It Work?

ELDs are electronic devices connected to a commercial motor vehicle’s engine to automatically record the driver’s driving time and other crucial data, such as fuel usage, hours of service data, location and timestamps, engine data, malfunction and diagnostic data, and much more.

Here’s how an ELD works:

1. Data Capture: The ELD connects to the vehicle’s engine and captures data related to its operation. It records engine hours, vehicle movement, miles driven, and other relevant data points.

2. Driver Identification: When used in a shared vehicle or a fleet, each driver is assigned a unique identification on the ELD. You can log into the device using your identification, which associates your driving activity with your specific profile.

3. Recording HOS Status: The device automatically tracks and records your HOS status, including driving time, on-duty time, off-duty time, and rest breaks. Because of the accurate calculations, you do not have to worry about violating any regulations. 

4. Automatic Recording: Once the vehicle reaches a certain speed threshold, the device captures data at regular intervals, typically every 60 minutes.

5. Editing and Annotations: You can make limited edits to your records to add annotations or correct errors as long as you provide appropriate justification for the change. 

6. Display and Transfer: Most ELDs like Matrack have a user-friendly interface that displays the driver’s HOS status, available driving hours, and other relevant information. It also allows them to review and certify their logs before transferring the data to law enforcement or authorized personnel.

7. Data Transfer and Storage: These devices also securely store the recorded data and transfer the data electronically when required. Authorized officials can access the data via a standardized method, such as a wireless web service or a USB connection.

8. Compliance and Reporting: The ELD generates reports that provide a detailed summary of a driver’s HOS records, including duty status changes, violations, and any annotations made. These reports can be used for compliance audits and inspections.

You can think of Electronic Logging Device (ELD) as a smart assistant. It takes care of all the paperwork and tracking related to your working hours, making your life and job easier and safer.

Common ELD Malfunctions

Though electronic logging devices are more efficient than paper logs, at the end of the day, they are still electronic devices making them vulnerable to malfunctions. 

If such devices fail, they won’t just cause inconvenience for you. They will also violate the HOS rules since drivers who operate commercial trucks without the device (a faulty one doesn’t count) will face fines and penalties from the FMCSA.

So you must understand common malfunction issues to resolve them quickly and minimize further disruptions to their operations. Here are some of the most common ELD malfunctions for truckers:

  1. Connectivity issues

Connectivity problems can occur when an electronic logging device loses connection with the vehicle’s engine or the associated mobile device. In some cases, these may still be in “pairing” or “connecting mode” even after exceeding the time limit. 

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) reported that a power compliance failure happens when an ELD is unpowered for 30 mins or longer throughout  24 hours.

This can be caused due to issues with cables, loose connections, or software glitches. Whenever there is a loss of connection, the device can fail to record accurate data.

  1. Logging errors

Such devices rely on accurate data input from the driver to record their current status of duty. However, manual errors can occur, leading to inaccurate logs. These errors may include selecting incorrect duty statuses, inputting wrong locations, or forgetting to switch duty statuses when required. 

Sometimes, the log may even show a 10 to 20-minute time difference from the actual time. Such logging errors can result in noncompliance with hours of service regulations and lead to penalties.

  1. Software glitches

These devices are updated regularly with the latest firmware the vendor provides its clients. The current software or firmware updates may have various bugs fixed, which enhance user experience and increase the device’s efficiency. 

However, software updates can sometimes introduce new glitches that impact the device’s performance. These glitches may manifest as system crashes, frozen screens, or incorrect data recording. Truckers must stay informed about software updates and promptly report any issues to their ELD provider.

  1. GPS inaccuracies

Such devices rely on the Global Positioning System, or GPS technology, to accurately track and record a driver’s location in the log. Yet, this technology is vulnerable to various factors, such as a poor satellite signal, urban canyons, or other environmental factors that can provide no data or inaccurate information to you.

This can lead to incorrect location data, affecting the accuracy of the logs.

Truckers should be aware of common discrepancies to reconfigure such devices when necessary manually.

Types of malfunctionConsequences
Connectivity IssuesThe device will fail to record the accurate data, thereby causing malfunction. 
Logging ErrorsIt can cause choosing the wrong duty status, entering the wrong location, or failing to change duty statuses when necessary. 
Software GlitchesIt can result in system crashes, frozen screens, or incorrect data recording. 
GPS InaccuraciesThe accuracy of the logs may be impacted if the malfunction results in a wrong data location. 

How to Handle ELD Malfunctions as a Trucker?

Encountering an electronic logging device malfunction can be frustrating, but truckers must remain calm and take appropriate steps to resolve the issue.

Here are some practical tips on how to handle ELD malfunctions as a trucker:

Step 1: Perform basic troubleshooting

Check whether the cables are adequately connected, restart the ELD, or ensure that the mobile device with the ELD application or hardware device has a stable internet connection. Sometimes, strong winds, bumpy roads, or drastic weather conditions can cause errors which can be solved through simple actions to restore proper functionality.

Step 2: Contact the ELD provider

If basic troubleshooting doesn’t resolve the problem, the next best alternative is to contact your ELD provider’s customer support team. They are trained to assist with troubleshooting and can provide guidance specific to your device. 

Explain the issue and provide any error codes or messages displayed on the ELD screen. It is also advised to provide them with recently generated log reports to understand the situation better.

Step 3: Keep paper records as a backup

If a malfunction cannot be quickly resolved, maintain paper records as a backup. Keep track of your duty status, hours of service, and other relevant information manually. Following the guidelines provided by the Department of Transportation (DOT) regarding using paper logs during ELD malfunction is crucial.

Step 4: Document the malfunction

To ensure accuracy and compliance and further reduce your accountability, documenting the ELD malfunction is another step you should take. Making a note of the date, time, and specific details of the issue, including how the device was working shortly before the malfunction, is all important information that can be used during the further investigation of the matter.

The documentation is valuable for potential discussions with authorities or your carrier. Additionally, it serves as evidence of your attempts to resolve the malfunction and maintain compliance.

Preventing ELD Malfunction

This truckers’ guide to ELD malfunction provides the following preventive steps that you should implement:

  1. Regular ELD maintenance

Perform regular maintenance checks on your system, inspecting the cables, connectors, and sensors for any signs of damage or wear. You can clean the device and its components as recommended by the manufacturer. Regular maintenance can aid in identifying potential issues before they turn into malfunctions.

  1. Software updates

Keep your software up-to-date. Putting the system to automatic updates can also reduce the manual work alongside it, as manufacturers release updates frequently to address bugs, and you can forget to update the system. 

But if choosing automatic updates is not an option, check for updates periodically and install them as the manufacturer recommends. Software updates can address potential vulnerabilities and enhance the stability of your system.

  1. Backup logging methods

In case of a malfunction, having any backup to continue logging is crucial and necessary to maintain compliance. You can familiarize yourself with multiple methods regarding backup logging options, such as paper logs or alternate electronic methods.

Having the necessary supplies or tools to switch to a backup method is essential.

  1. Testing your system for compliance

Regularly testing your system for compliance is yet another rule you can adopt. Try to conduct self-audits periodically to verify that the device accurately records your duty status and meets the requirements set by regulatory authorities. 

Testing ensures that your device functions properly and reduces the risk of malfunctions during critical moments.

ELD Malfunction and Compliance

Installation and proper use of an FMCSA-registered device are critical for truckers since it conforms to the ELD rules. The mandate applies to the following vehicles:

  • Interstate CMVs, where you must currently keep a record of duty status.
  • Vehicles weighing a minimum of 10,000 pounds.
  • Vehicles transporting placarded hazardous loads.

Compliance requirements

There are numerous ways to stay up to date with compliance requirements. It is essential to ensure sure the following resources are present, at the very least:

  • Connect to the engine and capture its movement.
  • Secure data transfer to enforcement authorities through web services and email, or USB and Bluetooth.
  • Allow the driver to log in and select duty statuses by displaying RODS clearly outside the car.

FMCSA directed steps to be taken during an ELD malfunction

  • The driver must notify the carrier within 24 hours of the malfunction.
  • The malfunctioning solution must be fixed, serviced, or repaired within 8 days of the malfunction. The driver must maintain a manual record for the hours of service so that if the device’s malfunction prevents it from reliably capturing HOS data and providing that HOS data to a safety official.
  • If an extension is required by the carrier (for more than 8 days), then a request has to be filed with ELD-Extension@dot.gov

ELDs assist in reducing violations and increasing road safety by correctly measuring and recording driving time. Compliance with rules also protects carriers and drivers against penalties, fines, and potential CSA score degradation. This device’s data also gives significant insights into driver behavior, allowing carriers to optimize operations and improve overall efficiency.

ELD for truckers to avoid ELD malfunction

One of the best ways to avoid dealing with malfunctions is getting it from a dependable and FMCSA-certified vendor. To help you out, here are our top 3 ELD recommendations for truckers:

Matrack ELD

Matrack ELD is a great option for those truckers who want an affordable service. We provide hardware at no cost, and their monthly fees are among the lowest available. 

We offer two plans – Basic and Premium. The Basic plan is best for simple HoS and FMCSA regulations compliance. It costs $19.95 per month per device. 

However, if you want advanced features such as GPS tracking and International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) state mileage, you can easily upgrade to our Premium plan for just $5 more per month per device.

Another thing that makes Matrack ELDs popular is that we do not ask for any contracts. You can activate, cancel, or deactivate our services anytime without any extra cost or charges.

The app is available for all Android and Apple devices, ensuring you have complete control of your truck every time. We also offer comprehensive fleet management solutions, including GPS trackers, fuel cards, factoring, dashcams, and more. Explore our services here.

Teletrac Navman ELD

You can monitor your drivers’ hours and rest periods with Teletrac Navman ELD, thanks to a simple dashboard. Additionally, Promiles can be integrated to determine IFTA taxable miles, saving you from paying more taxes than necessary. 

Teletrac Navman provides real-time notifications and coaching opportunities for your drivers if you want to equip your vehicles with dash cams.

While pricing information is not publicly available, our research showed that smaller fleets can expect to pay around $25 per vehicle, every month.

Furthermore, Teletrac Navman ELD offers live and on-demand product training, even though many users claim the technology is very simple to use and intuitive. In conclusion, Teletrac Navman is an excellent option if you’re seeking a fleet management system that goes beyond just ELD device compliance. 

EROAD Ehubo ELD

If you’re looking for flexible pricing options for your fleet’s compliance needs, consider the EROAD Ehubo ELD. You may easily install the ELD device on your own, and the app allows you to view all the fleet data. You can download the app on their iOS or Android smartphones or tablets to access RODS. The app uses color-coded statuses to indicate when it’s safe to drive (green), when you’re approaching a HOS violation (yellow), or when you’re currently violating HOS regulations (red).

You have two options: either get the devices for free and agree to pay $35 per month per vehicle, or pay the upfront (unpublished) price and then $25 per month per vehicle.

For a more detailed list of best ELD devices for trucks, explore our blogs.

Conclusion

Electronic logging device malfunctions can be a temporary setback for truckers, but they can be effectively managed with the right knowledge and approach. Preventing the malfunction is crucial for ensuring accurate HOS tracking, compliance with regulations, and maintaining efficient operations in the transportation industry. 

By focusing on quality assurance, regular software updates, robust connectivity solutions, and diagnostic capabilities, ELD manufacturers can significantly reduce the occurrence of malfunctions.

At the end of the day, technology is meant to work as an additional element to further bring efficiency to your lives. By understanding the common malfunction, you can follow the recommended steps for resolution. They can minimize disruptions to their operations and remain compliant with hours-of-service regulations. 

Remember, staying informed, calm, and promptly seeking assistance are key to overcoming ELD malfunction and ensuring a smooth journey.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do if my logging device is not working?

Answer: If your electronic logging device (ELD) is experiencing issues, you should troubleshoot it using the manufacturer’s manual or contact the customer support team. If the problem persists, you can use paper logs to document your Hours of Service.

Can I continue to drive if my ELD malfunctions?

Answer: If your ELD is not working, you can continue to drive for up to 8 days using paper logs to document your Hours of Service. However, fix the issue as soon as possible to avoid compliance violations.

What are some common causes of ELD malfunctions?

Answer: Common causes of ELD malfunctions include connectivity issues, hardware failure, incorrect logging, and power loss.

What should I do if I forget to switch to driving mode on my ELD?

Answer: If you forget to switch to driving mode on your ELD, you can manually edit your log to reflect the correct driving time. However, it is vital to remember to switch to driving mode when you start driving to avoid compliance violations.

How can I prevent ELD malfunctions?

Answer: To prevent ELD malfunctions, you should ensure proper installation and maintenance of your device, regularly update its software, and have backup devices in case of failure. It is also crucial to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and instructions.