Are You California Electronic Logbook Law Compliant?

April 27, 2021

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Key Takeaways

California codified the FMCSA’s ELD mandate for interstate commercial drivers in August 2018, with enforcement starting on October 1, 2018. California Highway Patrol is now actively enforcing the mandate, requiring that fleets operating throughout the California interstate be in compliance or risk incurring heavy fines. With a modern ELD solution, however, managers can accurately manage compliance with California HOS rules, save money by avoiding poor ratings, and reduce driver-related incidents by limiting the hours they spend on the road.

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) began the transition period for the ELD mandate in 2017. In California, the ELD mandate for interstate truckers was codified in August 2018, with enforcement starting on October 1, 2018. 

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) adopted the intrastate ELD mandate and set the official effective date on December 31, 2020. Fortunately, with the right ELD solution, you can stay compliant while gaining notable business benefits.

What is the ELD mandate?

In 2012, Congress enacted the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century bill, more commonly referred to as MAP-21. This legislation outlined criteria for highway funding and included a provision requiring the FMCSA to develop a rule mandating that drivers of commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) use electronic logging devices (ELDs) to record their record of duty status (RODS). This rule, referred to as the ELD mandate, is aimed at improving compliance with applicable Hours of Service (HOS) rules, reducing the overall paperwork burden for both carriers and drivers, and preventing data tampering. The ELD mandate also establishes procedures for data transfers to demonstrate compliance and share RODS with safety officials.

The mandate was rolled out in two main phases. By December 18, 2017, all drivers operating commercial motor vehicles subject to the ELD mandate were required to record their Hours of Service (HOS) electronically with an ELD that complies with the specifications in Subpart B of 49 CFR § 395.

What are the HOS rules and ELD mandate considerations in California?

While federal HOS rules are the guidelines for interstate trucking (travel that crosses state lines), California—like most states—has local adaptations for intrastate trucking (travel within California). Commercial driver’s license (CDL) holders who operate within California state lines have slightly different HOS requirements, especially since California didn’t adopt the federal Final Rule on Hours of Service. This means that if your business remains within California’s state borders, the HOS rules are a bit looser. Here’s how the interstate and intrastate rules compare: 

Federal HOS rules

California HOS rules

Drive time

11 hours

12 hours

Total shift maximum

14 hours

16 hours

Maximum workweek

70-hour maximum workweek (8 days)

80-hour maximum workweek (8 days)

Short-haul exemption

150 air-miles, 14-hour day (effective 9/28/20)

100 air-miles, 12-hour day

There are a couple other ways in which the California HOS rules align with federal HOS regulations:

  • Drivers must have 10 consecutive hours off-duty to reset for a new work period.

  • After meeting the maximum hours in an eight day workweek, drivers must reset to zero after at least 34 consecutive hours off-duty.

Does the ELD mandate apply to your business?

Drivers who operate a commercial motor vehicle (CMV)—vehicles that are used for business purposes and travel interstate—could be subject to the ELD rule, and commercial drivers who are required to maintain record of duty status (RODS) must comply with the ELD mandate. To be considered a CMV, the vehicle must meet one of the following criteria:

  • Weigh more than 10,000 pounds

  • Have a gross vehicle weight rating or a gross combination weight rating of more than 10,000 pounds

  • Is designed to transport 16 or more non-paying passengers, including the driver

  • Is designed to transport 9 or more paying passengers, including the driver

  • Transport enough hazardous materials to legally require warning placards

In general, if you log Hours of Service (HOS), you are required to comply with the ELD mandate. There are a few exemptions, such as drivers who:

  • Meet one of the short haul exceptions in 395.1(e)

  • Use paper logs for 8 days or less during any 30 day period

  • Conduct drive-away/tow-away operations where the vehicle is being delivered

  • Drive a vehicle with an engine manufactured in or before 2000

There are also several exemptions to the ELD mandate for agricultural transportation in 49 CFR § 395.1(k):

  • Covered farm vehicles are exempt from HOS and CDL regulations if the vehicle is over 26,000 pounds and operated within a 150 air-mile radius of the farm. Covered farm vehicles under this weight threshold are always exempt, no matter how far they travel.

  • Exemptions are granted during the planting and harvesting periods of each state.

  • Truck drivers who transport bees or livestock for interstate commerce are exempt from the required 30-minute break when there are animals on board.

How can electronic logging devices help your business?

With the right ELD solution, you can optimize the way your fleet operates. Samsara’s ELD solution is part of our Connected Operations Platform, giving you real-time visibility into vehicle telematics, video-based safety solutions, driver workflows and more. By offering fleet managers a centralized view of driver status and vehicle locations, they can improve their dispatch operations and serve customers more efficiently.

As part of Samsara’s Connected Operations Platform, there are even more opportunities to optimize your operations. Drivers can use the same mobile app they use to log their Hours of Service to access routes, perform vehicle inspections, and digitize paperwork, saving them time while remaining FMCSA-compliant.

Why should you trust Samsara for your ELD needs?

Samsara offers a complete ELD compliance solution that can help you streamline your operations and reduce administrative overhead, whether you have a handful of vehicles or thousands. With real-time visibility into every driver’s logs, dispatchers can easily take drivers’ status into account when planning routes to avoid HOS violations. Plus, with Samsara’s Compliance Dashboard, you can get at-a-glance visibility into your fleet’s HOS violations, unidentified driving events, and unassigned hours.

Here are just a few of the benefits of Samsara’s ELD solution:

  • Easy to use: The Samsara solution is designed to be easy to use for drivers, intuitive for dispatchers and fleet managers, and easy to install.

  • No mobile data fees: Samsara gateways include a built-in WiFi hotspot, with 500MB of WiFi data included at no extra cost. In addition to the Driver App, hotspot data enables drivers to access electronic work orders, email, and other productivity applications from laptops and tablets.

  • No costly, proprietary in-cab devices: The Samsara Driver App works on any iOS or Android device. Use tablets that you already own, let drivers use their own devices, or purchase units for as little as $200.

  • Beyond ELD: ELD compliance is part of Samsara's complete solution for fleets. With real-time visibility and business-relevant reports, Samsara is built to increase fleet productivity and lower costs.

Trusted by more than 20,000 fleets, Samsara can help you mitigate risk and stay compliant. See firsthand how Samsara can help your fleet stay compliant with FMCSA regulations by requesting a free trial today. Our team of product experts can show you how our ELD compliance solution works, plus you can try it out for yourself in your own vehicles.

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