The ELD deadline came and went last month, yet compliance remains a hot topic within the industry.
ELDs are intended to replace the long-used paper logs for drivers to record their hours of service (HOS) to ensures that driver, company, and FCSA are all on the same page (no pun intended). With electronic logs, companies will also will also have more reliable, standardized record-keeping in the event of an audit or accident investigation, as well as the opportunity to improve overall safety and efficiency while boosting average revenue miles per truck. In addition, drivers have an easier time keeping their logs updated, while dispatchers and the rest of the company receive real-time information streamed right from the truck.
ELDs should also make it easier for you to know where all your drivers are at any given time, while giving your drivers the opportunity to get extra miles if they’re available.
So, why is there a big divide with ELD?
- Money: System cost – for both hardware and software subscriptions – is an issue that has kept smaller fleets from implementing e-logs in the past, but like most technologies the cost has been dropping steadily over time, making the hardware more affordable and easier to use than previous models. In addition, non-compliance can also lead to heavy fines for the company.
- Privacy: Many are concerned that e-logs will lead to the unwarranted tracking of drivers. But logs will continue to stay with the drivers and their carriers, with external access limited to compliance audits, accidents, and normal roadside inspections. Federal rules also prevent carriers or others from forcing fatigued drivers to stay on the road, thwarting harassment. Data is not streamed to law enforcement, and HOS violations are only noted within the company, with data only being released in the event of an accident.
- Learning curve: As with any new technology, everyone will need to learn to use the system. But technology is increasingly user-friendly, and most drivers carry and use smartphones already. With a module hardwired into the engine, a smartphone or tablet app can do the job without any additional hardware installation.
- Impact on driver pay: Because drivers won’t be able to fudge their time on a paper log anymore, many are concerned that the 70-hour on-duty limit will hurt their ability to make a living. However, this should not affect drivers who are already compliant, and drivers will be paid for every hour they work.
- Equipment utilization: With improved tracking, dispatchers can see where drivers will be days in advance, and if a driver is running ahead, they can adjust appointment times and find a backhaul for the driver’s return trip, leading to significant increases in equipment utilization.
- Driver productivity: Less time spent dealing with paper logs and other non-driving admin work means drivers have more time to do what they do best – drive. Electronic logs have less room for errors, increasing available driving time by as much as 30 minutes a day. Rest breaks are truly rest, and not “catch up on paperwork before you sleep” time.
- Additional hours for drivers: Because eLogs are minute by minute, and not divided into 15 minute chunks like paper logs, drivers can often get up to 20 minutes more drive time per day. When drivers are paid by the mile, this additional drive time can add up quickly, improving drivers’ earnings.
- Back-office productivity: Admin staff get live-stream, real-time truck data, eliminating long hours auditing and compiling.
- Dispatcher productivity: Live data tells dispatchers exactly where your drivers are all the time, and when. Drivers can then be offered more miles, get routed to a terminal or to their homes for a break.
- Accountability: Not only will drivers be accountable, so will dispatchers. You’ll be able to see which dispatchers are leaving drivers parked, and which ones are keeping them rolling. Real-time data can also be used to formulate corrective action plans where needed.
- Documented proof: In the event of an accident, the driver and company now have proof of compliance.
- Retention: Once your drivers see the benefits, efficiency and time saved with ELD, they’ll be less likely to look for another job.
Of course, the gains from ELD aren’t going to be completely obvious in the first day (or month!) of implementation. Even quickly-delivered fleet data takes time to process and analyze. But with a simpler method of collecting driver information, happier drivers, reduced log errors and reductions in wasted fuel costs, ELD can make compliance—and your company—more efficient and profitable than before.