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Drivers resort to paper logs after Omnitracs ELD outages (Updated)

Failed communication of required firmware update may be root cause

Photo credit: Omnitracs)

Editor’s Note: Updates with Omnitracs statement, clarifies affected ELD models

U.S. truck drivers possibly numbering in the tens of thousands are staring at non-working electronic logging device (ELD) screens after their Omnitracs systems shut down on Nov. 2.

Omnitracs, a market leader in ELD systems, said it began experiencing connectivity issues with a subset of its “in-cab” telematics hardware about 7 p.m. CST on Saturday, Nov. 2.

“We understand the root cause and are now focused exclusively on returning impacted customers to full functionality,” Omnitracs said in a statement.

The company said the MCP 200, MCP 110 and MCP 50 devices were affected. Newer models, including the Omnitracs IVG, XRS and Roadnet products, are not impacted.

Large fleets, including industry leaders Knight-Swift Transportation Holdings Inc. (NYSE: KNX), which has 23,000 tractors and 77,000 trailers, and Schneider National Inc. (NYSE: SNDR), which has 14,000 trucks and 48,000 trailers, reportedly told their drivers to use paper logs to record their miles driven and time driving, according to

Schneider was aware of the issue and expected to have more information later, a spokeswoman said.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which oversees ELD compliance as a way of measuring drivers’ attention to hours-of-service regulations, was aware of the Omnitracs’ outage. The agency requires drivers to keep paper logs on board in case of a malfunction. The agency lists 51 pages of manufacturer self-certified ELDs on its website.

The FMCSA issues few exceptions to the ELD mandate, the final stage of which takes effect Dec. 16. That is when trucks with less sophisticated automatic on-board recording devices (AOBRDs) must switch to ELDs. Drivers and companies with AOBRDs got a two-year waiver from the Dec. 18, 2017, mandate that all but ended the use of paper logs.

According to, emails sent from Omnitracs to its ELD service users required an emergency firmware update to IVG units before Nov. 2. The phaseout of the U.S. government’s use of the 3G/Global Positioning Satellites system required the update.

A screenshot sent to showed a message that read: “Drivers Omnitracs has gone down. From this point on until the system comes back please start logging on paper. At this time we have no fix for this issue as the issue is on the Omnitracs side.”

Several drivers posted on Facebook about the issue. A private site managed by third-party logistics (3PL) broker CDL4Life had 160 posts as of Sunday afternoon, Nov. 3.

“We have had a complete Qualcomm/Omnitracs failure. It is nationwide,” driver Deanna Mase-Parks posted on her Facebook page. “It is a Y2K GPS bug believe it (or) not. Our logs do not show any driving history and the computer has reverted back to the date 03/18/2000.”

Contract driver Stephen Halsted told FreightWaves he logged into his Omnitracs MCP200 ELD and it accurately showed his truck in sleep mode.

Omnitracs is wary of computer hacks and works to prevent corruption of its systems, according to Sharon Reynolds, the company’s chief information security officer.

Cyber threats against transportation companies have increased 100-fold since 2015, she said during an Oct. 6 panel discussion at American Truck Associations’ Management Conference and Exhibition in San Diego.


  1. Robert

    Back to paper logs again. Omnitracs is down at least on my truck. Came back up a couple days ago.
    Now I’m screwed because of the ELD law. Used paper from Saturday night to Thursday. That’s 6 days. According to the law 8 days max per 30 day period. So what do I do come tomorrow on the 8th day. Shutdown for 22 days. Screw the federal government, I have family to feed and bills to pay. Not to mention a truck payment every week.

  2. Dave Law

    This is what happens when one becomes totally dependent on electronics. It sounds good in theory, however reality doesn’t follow those”best laid plans”. FMC should hold an emergency meeting to allow better options. If the trucking industry is dependent on satellite services, what happens when a satellite goes down for what ever reason. So much for those “driverless trucks they are working on as well. Can’t replace a driver behind the wheel who can make decisions!

  3. Joe

    The law is electronic logs now, no more paper logs. Now it’s ok to use paper logs cause electronic log system is down. Screw that shit and the piece of shit government. Why should this burden the hard working driver. The driver has enough shit to deal with going down the road. Most drivers out there never used paper logs and are sitting somewhere trying to figure them out. That’s like if GPS ever goes out, half the trucks will be parked along side the road cause the computer that directs them no longer works and today’s truck driver dont know how to read a map. Trucking has turned out to be a joke . Trucking was a great job at one time, now , it’s a bullshit job. Back in the day when real men drove trucks, we would have taken action against the government. Today’s truck drivers , gays, women, steering wheel holders, dont have a clue about trucking , what a joke. We live in a fucked up ass end backwards society .

  4. Bigdee

    Don’t believe this and the government is forcing us to endure bad service from something we don’t need get ready because all the other eld company is going we have to update our software so it won’t happen again that’s going to mean ever company is going to pay more little at a time it’s going to cost a lot more

  5. Grant

    You can still run a drivers logs through the reporting platform to get the past 14 days, anything that is incorrect due to the failure can be recreated on paper log. This issue only becomes a real problem on the 8th day of an outage when drivers can no longer run on paper log in the U.S. because of a malfunctioning unit.

  6. Allen Gunn

    I’m guessing Elog companies are the number one cyber target and hackers are just warming up. FMCSA must be loosing sleep to. Hopefully it does not scale up beyond hackers. Most of us old timers know the crash data befor and after ELOGS from various articles and when the baby boomers all retire it will be to late. Not even the eighteen year old drivers can fix the numbers. I should have stayed in the military with 20 years of less stress in 5 combat zones including Vietnam. Driving ELOGs is PTSD on a daily basis.

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Alan Adler

Alan Adler is an award-winning journalist who worked for The Associated Press and the Detroit Free Press. He also spent two decades in domestic and international media relations and executive communications with General Motors.