What is an electronic logbook?

Article Published by Geotab
Author: Denise L. Rondini, president of Rondini Communications

Electronic logbooks automate Hours of Service records for truck drivers.

For more than 80 years, truck drivers have had to prepare a record of duty status (RODS) that documented their hours of service. In the past, drivers had to fill out physical paper logs which were time consuming and more prone to errors. With the invention of the electronic logbook, it’s much easier for drivers to keep their RODS up-to-date.

What is an electronic logbook?

An electronic logbook, also called an “elog,” automatically captures data on driver status that previously drivers reported manually on their paper RODS. The electronic logging takes place automatically using a connected IoT device that ties into the vehicle.

Electronic logbooks must capture the following information:

  • Date
  • Time
  • Location
  • Engine hours
  • Vehicle miles
  • Driver identification
  • User authentication
  • Vehicle
  • Carrier name

As well, elogs allow drivers to transfer the stored information directly to enforcement officers during roadside inspections.

Electronic logbooks are now mandated in the U.S.

As part of MAP-21, the U.S. Congress mandated the use of electronic logging. The intent of the mandate was “to help create a safer work environment for drivers, and make it easier and faster to accurately track, manage, and share RODS data,” according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). The electronic logging must synchronize with a vehicle’s engine to automatically record driving time. The result is a more accurate recording of a driver’s hours of service.

The basics of Hours of Service did not change when the mandate went into effect, however, they have been modified since then and today electronic logs need to reflect those changes.

Electronic logs process data from the vehicle to understand whether the engine is running, if the vehicle is moving, and track fleet metrics such as miles driven and duration of engine operation (engine hours), according to FMCSA.

The rule to use electronic logbooks applies to drivers that have eight or more days worth of duty status logs out of 30 days and those who drive 2000 model year or newer vehicles. The electronic logging rules do not apply to drivers who use paper logs for no more than eight days during a 30-day period. There are other exemptions, including driveaway-towaway drivers that are transporting vehicles for sale, lease or repair.

Canada is getting its own electronic logging mandate

In June 2021, Canadian fleets and drivers will be required to use electronic logs to track their Hours of Service under a new Transport Canada mandate.

As with the U.S. mandate, the Canadian rule is designed to eliminate recording errors and to prevent tampering with driving hours. Under the ruling, drivers will have to report their on-duty, off-duty and daily driving time electronically.

The U.S. and Canadian rules are very similar, which should help fleets that operate across the border. Under the Canadian elog mandate, as in the U.S., driving time must be captured automatically with the electronic log synchronizing with the vehicle’s engine. There are some exemptions, including operating a vehicle that was manufactured prior to 2000 or vehicles that are subject to short-term rental agreements of under 30 days and more.

How to use an electronic logbook

Each driver is responsible for electronically logging their hours of service. In general, here is how they do that:

  • Log in to their personal driver account on the elog and select a vehicle and trailer.
  • Select or change their duty status, such as driving, On Duty, or personal conveyance as an example.
  • Verify any outstanding HOS logs.
  • Transfer RODS electronically at roadside if asked.

Electronic logbooks have been the law in the U.S. for a year and will soon be required in Canada as well. The goal of these elogs is to take the burden of tracking HOS off drivers and let it occur electronically to improve accuracy and safety.

If you are looking for specific user guides, please consult the Geotab Drive driver or administrator resources, To learn more about our solutions, visit the Geotab fleet compliance page.