ELD Rule And Driver Harassment
Emma PaulineJanuary 5, 2023ELD

ELD Rule And Driver Harassment

“If the boss says, it must be right. Isn’t it?”

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration came up with the ELD mandate to ensure safer road travel, efficient and streamlined fleet management and operation, and more importantly – adherence to hours of service (HOS) rule. Before introducing the mandate, the FMCSA conducted several researches and took into account various grievances filed by the drivers – the common one being coerced to change the HOS records and other instances of driver harassment.

When the ELD was introduced, FMCSA made sure that motor carriers could not harass or coerce drivers into violating federal laws. It clearly defines harassment as:

“Action by a motor carrier toward a driver (whether an employee or a contractor) that the carrier knew or should have known would result in an HOS violation in 49 CFR 395 or 49 CFR 392.3.” FMCSA also clearly states that harassment only applies when information from the ELD or any other technology used along with ELD is involved in the carrier’s action.

Therefore, harassment necessarily occurs due to the action of a motor carrier towards the employed driver, including an independent contractor, involving information from ELD, when the motor carrier is either aware or should have been aware that the actions thus were taken are in violation with Hours of Service (HOS) rules.

To make harassment rules and other related procedures easier for drivers, Matrack Incorporation has created this guide. In this informative guide to ELD rule and driver harassment, we will discuss the following:

Before we can understand where and how the driver harassment can take place, it is important to know the regulations under 49 CFR 395 and 49 CFR 392.3. A motor carrier cannot ask its employed or contractual driver to violate any of these regulations but is required to ensure that all its employees follow them diligently. It is the duty of the carrier to be well-versed in these regulations, cannot use ignorance as an excuse to harass or coerce a driver.

49 CFR 395

The U.S Code of Federal Regulations defines the rules related to the driver’s hours of service (HOS) under 49 CFR Part 395. It clearly mentions that the rules under 395 are applicable to all motor carriers and drivers, except for certain exceptions like a short haul, adverse driving conditions, agricultural operations, and more. The regulation has several sections, however we will be discussing only those that are more likely to be violated.

Who does it apply to:

On-duty time: On-duty time refers to the time a driver begins work until he/she is relieved. Driving time includes:

The driving time: Motor carriers are required to ensure that the drivers drive with proper rest breaks as specified:

Record of duty status (RODS): All drivers driving a commercial motor vehicle are required to keep a record of duty status through FMCSA compliant ELD, and in some cases, through AOBRD. The driver who is exempt from ELD rule is required to maintain RODS manually.

What information does ELD record automatically? The electronic logging device can record data automatically, which makes the data more accurate and authentic. It can record data regarding date, time, CMV geographic location information, Engine hours, vehicle miles, driver or authenticated user identification information, motor carrier identification data, and more. Also, any changes or edits to the data are recorded as annotations, which ensures that the edits are made only by authorized employees.

Motor Carrier responsibilities: It is the responsibility of the motor carrier to ensure that all the commercial motor vehicles in the fleet are equipped with ELD, and all drivers are trained in the proper use of the same. Also, the motor carrier must manage separate accounts for authorized ELD users and properly define the scope of their authority in regards to use of the ELD. A driver has right to access his/her own ELD records, and a motor carrier must allow it.

“Every motor carrier has information of the driver through ELD, and must retain them in compliance with FMCSA guidelines to protect the privacy of the driver.”

Driver responsibilities: Whenever an ELD prompts, a driver is required to provide the information needed. He/she is also required to input the correct information regarding duty status and nature of breaks. When asked by the safety officer, a driver is required to produce and transfer data from ELD in accordance with the instruction sheet provided by the motor carrier.

49 CFR 392.3

According to the 49 CFR 392.3, no driver must drive a commercial motor vehicle when his/her driving ability is impaired due to illness, fatigue or any other reason that would make it unsafe for him/her to drive. It is also the responsibility of both driver and the motor carrier to ensure that a driver is completely fit to drive.

What can be considered harassment?

In research conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in early 2014, about 600 drivers and 800 carriers were asked to participate in a survey. The survey included a list of 14 interactions between the drivers and the carriers, and they were required to rate the interactions on the following points:

  1. Number of times such interactions occurred during a month.
  2. The drivers were asked if they identified these interactions as harassment.
  3. The drivers and motor carriers who used ELD were asked if they thought the cause of harassment was a result of the complicated logging system of HOS.
  4. If the interactions were positive or negative.

Here are some of the interactions that were included in the survey:

As a result of the survey, it was found that many drivers did not recognize the above interactions as harassment, even when they did face the interactions regularly. Also, less than 3% drivers associated the harassment with HOS logging in ELD.

You can read more about the research here.


The FMCSA adopted the Prohibiting Coercion of Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers, also known as the Coercion Rule and brought it into effect on 29th January 2016. According to the rule, when a motor carrier, shipper, receiver, or transportation intermediary threatens the driver to withhold work, fire, or punish the driver in any other way for refusing to deliberately violate rules as laid down by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMRs), and the Federal Motor Carrier Commercial Regulations (FMCCRs).

For coercion to occur, it is not necessary that any provision is violated. Coercion can occur if the driver has been fired, not given work, or reprimanded for refusal to violate. For coercion, these three things are important:

The difference between driver harassment and coercion:

The major difference between harassment and coercion is the nature and scope of violations. 

Coercion has a broader scope than harassment. The act of threatening a driver for refusal to break any regulation is considered coercion. It does not necessarily require the driver to actually violate a law. However, harassment is when the driver does violate a provision of HOS as instructed by the motor carrier.

How ELD prevents harassment?

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration explicitly prohibit a motor carrier to instruct its employed or contractual driver to take an action in connection with ELD that can violate the rules of Hours of Service. There are other technical provisions that ELD offers to prevent harassment:

ELDs allow only a limited amount of data to be edited and to record every edit made to the data. In case a driver is being harassed, the record from ELD can be submitted as evidence of the same.

Procedure for filing a harassment complaint:

The FMCSA has laid down the following provisions for harassment complaints related to ELD:

  1. Driver’s name, address, and contact information;
  2. Name and address of the motor carrier that allegedly harassed the driver;
  3. Explanation of how ELD or related technology was part of harassment;
  4. Date of the alleged harassment;
  5. How the action taken by the motor carrier was in violation of either 49 CFR 392.3 or 49 CFR 395; and
  6. Driver’s signature.

Penalties for driver harassment:

As per the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, if a motor carrier is found to have harassed a driver in connection with ELD or related technology, a civil penalty for harassment as well as a separate penalty for violation of hours of service rules can be levied on the motor carrier.

To sum it up, the ELD rule and technology offer various ways to safeguard a driver’s interest against harassment and coercion. It also ensures that drivers and motor carriers are in complete compliance with regulations of FMCSA and HOS making the work environment safer for the drivers and other employees.

Drivers and motor carriers must, therefore, opt for an ELD that is FMCSA certified as well as compliant. Matrack Incorporation has exactly the ELD you need. We have over a decade of experience in providing ELD, tracking and comprehensive fleet management services across the country. For any information related to ELD, or to know more about our services, get in touch with us now!

Please don't forget to share

twitter linkedin facebook pinterest