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Decoding Electronic Logging Device Terminology

Electronic logging devices (ELDs) are intended to help create a safer work environment for drivers. In addition, ELDs simplify and provide accuracy for managing, tracking and sharing records of duty status (RODS). According to government regulations, ELDs must be installed or utilized on all required commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) that must maintain RODS. The ELD mandate goes into effect on December 18, 2017, and all drivers must use a compliant ELD by that date, unless they are using a grandfathered automatic on-board recording device (AOBRD) to track their hours of service (HOS).  After December 16, 2019, all drivers must use ELDs to track RODS.  Below, we help identify and define key terms associated with the electronic logging device rule.


A note related to recorded data, an update, or an edit that a driver or authorized support personnel inputs to the ELD. After edits and annotations are made, the driver will receive a request for approval. 

Automatic On-board Recording Device (AOBRD)

A device that integrates and synchronizes with the specific operations of the CMV on which it is installed. AOBRDs are required to record engine use, speed, miles driven, and date and time of day. AOBRDs record engine data to log driving time vs. utilizing GPS data or driving data manually logged by the driver. 


A threat to withhold work from or take adverse employment action against a driver in order to induce the driver to violate a broader range of regulatory provision, or to take adverse action to punish a driver for the driver's refusal to operate a CMV in violation of regulations. Coercion does not have to result in the driver being in violation of the regulations and does not have to involve the use of an ELD. 


A change to the ELD record that does not overwrite the original record. All edits must be annotated, documenting the reason for change. Ex.: Editing indicated off-duty time to on-duty, not driving requires an annotation.

Electronic Data Transfer

Communication of data from one device to another. The ELD mandate specifies two options for on-demand electronic data transfer: telematics (web or email transfer) and local (USB2.0 or Bluetooth transfer). 

Engine Synchronization

The function of the ELD to monitor engine operation automatically to capture the engine power status, vehicle motion status, miles driven and engine hours.


An action by a motor carrier toward one of its drivers in which the carrier knew, or should have known, the action would result in a violation of HOS on the driver's part. This action must involve information available to the motor carrier through an ELD or other technology used in combination with the ELD. Motor carriers are explicitly prohibited from harassing a driver, according to FMCSA regulations.

Portable Electronic Logging Device

A portable device that must be mounted in a fixed position and visible to the driver from a normal seated position during operation of a CMV. This device can be moved from one truck to another rather than remaining with a specific truck at all times. 

Records of Duty Status (RODS)

Information recorded showing a record of the driver's on-duty status. Currently, RODS can be submitted on paper (paper RODS) using the ELD-mandated graph grid or electronically via an AOBRD or ELD in compliance with the ELD mandate. Once the ELD mandate is implemented, all RODS must be recorded electronically for vehicles subject to the mandate. 

Self Certification

The process in which an ELD manufacturer confirms that each ELD or firmware update is compliant with ELD specifications.

Supporting Documents

Documents that must be retained by the driver to prove their ELD record. Documents must be retained by motor carriers for 6 months. For more information about the upcoming ELD mandate, read our blog or view the FMCSA's extensive documentation about the mandate. More information can also be found in J.B. Hunt's executive briefing, Electronic Logging Device Impact.   Source: FMCSA