Do Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) use GPS?
12 May 2016 Jason 0
In the wake of the final publishing of the ELD mandate, a lot of truckers are asking questions about how the new Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) will work. One of those questions is do they include GPS tracking.
The short answer is yes, ELDs need GPS to calculate accurately driving hours – and verify the correctness of other data such as engine hours, truck speed and area of activity. This is because legally HOS recordkeeping (or RODS) only applies outside of the 100-mile radius – drivers that operate within this range are not required to record HOS. Drivers can use logging software that will automatically backfill HOS records if they exceed this 100-mile limit, allowing them to ignore the mandatory 30-minute break normally required.
So, ELDs use GPS but exactly how closely are drivers monitored using this GPS functionality?
The question is possibly triggered by privacy concerns, which is not surprising considering the ELD mandate was delayed for some time over the potential for employers to misuse ELDs, tracking them every step of the way. Fortunately for drivers, the ELD mandate was amended with some strict rules around how employers could use the data collected from an electronic logging device.
The new ELD ruling has included limits on how logging devices can be used, designed to protect drivers from harassment.
- ELDs must have a mute function to prevent disturbance while sleeping.
- Limited ability for employers to edit ELD logs (driver must be notified).
- Original records are stored if logs are edited.
- Location accuracy reduced during off-duty.
While GPS can provide a driver’s employer with useful information, such as knowing who to dispatch to a new job, a driver might feel uncomfortable with their boss knowing exactly where they are every minute of the day.
How accurate is the GPS location in ELDs?
The GPS location recorded by an ELD has the same accuracy as any GPS device using the civilian signal (L1), offering accuracy of up to three meters. Prior to 2000 the signal had intentionally being degraded using Selective Availability (SA) but DoD could change this if their was a perceived threat to national security.
So while the GPS unit is highly accurate, what’s actually recorded in the electronic logs?
For the purpose of complying with the ELD mandate, the rules state that the GPS location can be approximated in the driving logs:
- On-duty – Location within 1-mile of actual position.
- Off-duty – Location within 10 miles of actual position.
How your employer will use the GPS location for the purpose of managing the fleet may vary, so maybe check with them directly if you have any concerns.
Do ELDs need to track in real time?
So if ELDs require GPS functionality does this mean they need to be tracking a driver’s location 24/7?
No, they don’t need to be tracking location all the time.
The FMCSA actually addressed this very question on their website and explained that it wasn’t necessary – ELDs only require location information at specific intervals (maximum interval is 60 minutes).
Are you an employer? 5 tips to help everyone through the transition.
Some employees cope with change better than others but all will need some level of assistance. The easier you make it the more likely you’ll retain staff (studies conducted by different industry groups indicates that a percentage of drivers are considering quitting the business when ELDs become mandatory).
There’s also a range of benefits for both employers and employees with switching to an automated compliance solution, including reduced paperwork and the opportunity to have their good performance behind the wheel recognized.
There are some good suggestions in this blog post helping your drivers adopt ELDs and seeing ways to get more from the transition to automated compliance.
GPS tracking is only one part of the change to electronic logging but it’s central to making it work, and it’s something that a lot of CMV drivers already make good use of.