If your ELD goes down, go to paper, or … ELS, anyone?

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Updated Nov 30, 2020
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Updated Nov. 30, to reflect partial fixes to the major outage among Rand McNally’s electronic logging device systems. 

If you’re using one of the Rand McNally company’s electronic logging device products, including its DriverConnect platform, you’re likely well aware of an outage that forced all affected companies to alternative methods of recording hours of service. Rand McNally’s Kendra Ensor confimed last week that a “cyber incident … is affecting Rand McNally’s hosted and network systems.” The “network that supports our DriverConnect ELD platform is not working. As per FMCSA rules, we are instructing fleets and drivers to use paper-based logging until we can restore our systems.”

Partial restoration came on November 30, Ensor then reported. Shortly after midnight into the 30th, she said, “Rand McNally’s DriverConnect platform became available and operational for drivers. As a result, drivers using the ELD systems are compliant, able to view, edit, and certify logs as well as provide them in the event of a roadside inspection.”

The back-end DriverConnect portal for reports and other back-office features, she added, “should be coming on-stream soon, as should the corporate and fleet websites.”

That’s good news for drivers using those systems, yet it bears emphasizing that paper logs aren’t the only viable option when an ELD goes down.

In mid-2019, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration updated the ELD-related Frequently Asked Questions and their answers at its website with unofficial-official information for anyone in doubt as to the policy for appropriate back-ups. As has been noted before, such FAQs are not exactly capital-G Guidance, but policy or at least simple guidance has been set via those FAQs before.

Regular readers will recall a significant pre-ELD mandate maneuver related to the pre-2000 model year exemption that flowed fully formed from the esteemed FAQs. The applicable example here isn’t nearly as significant, but it might clear up some confusion for roadside enforcement and anyone using a logging app on a smartphone or other paper-log-equivalent laptop software that becomes an engine-connected e-log with a connected ECM plugin.

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Distilled: FMCSA wanted it to be abundantly clear you can continue to use mobile- or laptop-type logs software in the event the ELD part of the equation malfunctions — paper logs aren’t the only option. The agency even coined a new catchall term for non-ECM-connected logs software: ELS (electronic logging software).

ELS is, in fact, an option in lieu of paper logs when your ELD malfunctions.

Rand McNally emphasized that its navigational GPS devices were not impacted by this recent outage. “Those devices continue to work, as do other consumer electronics,” Ensor said.

At bottom, find updated language as of June of 2019 in FMCSA’s ELD-related FAQ section in related to just what to do in the event of an outage, as the company continues to get its systems back in working order. Or not, as the case has been for other owner-operators/companies in the past.

Generally, carriers are given eight days to repair a malfunctioning log — if there’s a widespread and/or prolonged outage, though, requests for more time can be made in several different ways. Follow these links for a round-up of options — including direct e-mail to FMCSA headquarters and division office contacts — with our most recent coverage involving the issue:

Those updates to the broader ELD-related FAQ section are shown below, with particular updated language shown in bold italics:

If an ELD malfunctions, a driver must:

  1. Note the malfunction of the ELD and provide written notice of the malfunction to the motor carrier within 24 hours;
  2. Reconstruct the record of duty status (RODS) for the current 24-hour period and the previous 7 consecutive days, and record the records of duty status on graph-grid paper logs, or electronic logging software, that comply with 49 CFR 395.8, unless the driver already has the records or retrieves them from the ELD; and
  3. Continue to manually prepare RODS in accordance with 49 CFR 395.8 until the ELD is serviced and back in compliance. The recording of the driver’s hours of service on a paper log, or electronic logging software, cannot continue for more than 8 days after the malfunction; a driver that continues to record his or her hours of service on a paper log, or electronic logging software, beyond 8 days risk being placed out of service.

Further, the agency added the following question to the ELD FAQs:

When should a driver use paper logs or electronic logging software if an ELD malfunction occurs?
A driver should only use paper logs, or electronic logging software, or other electronic means to record their HOS if the ELD malfunction hinders the accurate recording of the driver’s hours-of-service data (i.e., 10/11, 14/15, 60/70 hours; or 30 minute).