(January 2022) - The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's (FMCSA) Electronic Logging Device (ELD) rule applies to motor carriers and drivers who are required to keep records of duty service (RODS). An ELD automatically records a driver's driving time and other aspects of the hours-of-service (HOS) records. The FMCSA's HOS rules restrict the number of hours that commercial drivers can drive. See 49 C.F.R. § 395. The regulations also require that commercial motor vehicles involved in interstate commerce and operated by a driver subject to HOS requirements be equipped with ELDs to ensure compliance with HOS rules. See 49 C.F.R. § 395.22-395.38. Manufacturers must self-certify that ELDs meet technical standards in the ELD rule and must register with the FMCSA. Motor carriers and drivers must choose only ELDs that are certified and registered on FMCSA's website, as other devices may not be compliant.
Mobile carriers are beginning to shut down their 3G networks to make room for more advanced network services, including 5G. As a result, many older cell phones and other mobile devices will be unable to use data services. Once a 3G network is no longer supported, it is highly unlikely that any ELDs that rely on that network will be able to meet the minimum requirements established by the ELD Technical Specifications, including recording all required data elements and transferring ELD output files.
Therefore, any ELD that requires 3G cellular connectivity to perform its functionality will no longer be in compliance with the technical specifications in the ELD rule after the 3G network it relies on is shut down. When in an area that does not support 3G, a 3G device will register a malfunction. In accordance with 49 CFR § 395.34, the carrier has eight days to get the malfunction resolved, in this case by replacement, unless an extension is granted.
Major mobile carriers have announced the following dates for completing the shutdowns and are planning to retire parts of their networks sooner:
- AT&T 3G: February 22, 2022
- Sprint 3G (T-Mobile): March 31, 2022
- Sprint LTE (T-Mobile): June 30, 2022
- T-Mobile 3G: July 1, 2022
- Verizon 3G: December 31, 2022
ELD violation fines can range from $1,000 to $10,000. In addition, non-compliant drivers can be placed out of service until they are compliant.
Motor carriers whose ELD relies on a 3G network, should ask their ELD provider about its plan for upgrading or replacing the ELD to one that will be supported as soon as possible to avoid compliance issues, as portions of carrier 3G networks will be unsupported in advance of the announced shut down dates.
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