10 Facts about ELDs
Let’s tackle some of the more common ELD myths we hear about today and distinguish fact from fiction. Below is our list of the top ten facts.
1) Electronic Logging Devices are no longer expensive.
There is a perceived notion that ELD’s are cost prohibitive.
When electronic logging systems were first introduced over 20 years ago, fleets paid up to $2,500 for a single device. Only larger fleets were willing to invest in the trucking technology due to the cost. It was worth it to them because the technology helped them reduce paperwork, stay in touch with drivers, and maximize drive time.
Today ELD prices have dropped considerably, due in part to the introduction of the smartphone and tablet compatibility options that reduce upfront costs. A decrease in technology hardware costs overall has also contributed to lower ELD prices.
The FMCSA estimates that the average annual cost of an ELD will be $495 per truck, with a total range of $165 to $832 per truck on an annualized basis. Considering the overall operational costs of a trucking business, ELD investment doesn’t rank when compared to operating expenses, like fuel, liability insurance, tractor-trailer equipment, and permitting costs.
2) There is a potential gain of driving hours, not a loss.
The reality is that when commercial truck drivers adopt electronic logging devices, they will not want to go back to paper logbooks.
Most drivers find ELD use actually helps them gain more time on the road because e-logs record duty status changes down to the nearest minute. Paper logbooks actually require drivers to round up to the nearest 15 minutes, resulting in fewer miles posted.
3) ELDs do not require truck driver interaction on the road.
Some anti-ELD advocates claim that ELDs require commercial drivers to interact with them while on the road. The truth is a driver does need to log into a device but once the truck is moving, an electronic logging device recognizes the difference between Driving and On-Duty/Not Driving, automatically updating the driver’s status. In addition, the status must be selected indicating Off-Duty or Sleeper Berth; there is no system today that can — or should — identify those tasks automatically.
While driver interaction when the truck’s in motion is never needed, a countdown timer with audible alerts is available, ensuring drivers are never surprised to discover they’re running low on hours. These audible alerts ensure drivers have enough time to reach a safe place to park before reaching their Hours of Service limits.
4) ELDs do not automatically report Hours of Service (HOS) violations to law enforcement.
While an officer can quickly see if there are violations of Hours of Service rule, nothing is transmitted to enforcement unless there is reason to do so, like a roadside inspection, a traffic infraction, or an FMCSA compliance audit.
An ELD is simply a replacement for a paper logbook. It does not automatically transmit data to inspectors or law enforcement agencies, and it does not automatically trigger violations.
One of the big benefits of ELD is that roadside inspections go much faster. Truck drivers get back on the road more quickly because inspection officials can see areas of concern or verify compliance with HOS regulations at a glance. When safety managers are confident their paperwork is in order, DOT audits take hours, not days or weeks.
5) Don’t worry, it’s not like Big Brother is watching.
The truth is, only employees at the trucking company who are authorized to view ELD data are able to pinpoint a vehicle location. Regulations include privacy provisions that give drivers more peace of mind. For example, if a vehicle is being used for personal conveyance, location data can only be available with the clarity of a 10-mile radius.
Simply put, the DOT will not know your every move. It’s the same process as an audit of your paper logs, except that electronic driver logs save time and are more accurate.
6) ELDs cannot shut down your truck.
Decisions about where and when a truck may safely be stopped are best left in the driver’s capable hands. ELDs were simply designed to record engine data — they don’t take control of your vehicle in any way.
7) ELDs do improve truck and driver safety.
An ELD doesn’t control the truck, so it can’t dictate a truck’s speed, following distances, or lane changes. However, ELDs are able to let drivers and dispatchers know how much time they have left behind the wheel each day. This leads to smarter dispatching decisions, which can keep drivers safer on the road.
One recent report found that commercial drivers using E-Logs had a significantly lower total crash rate (11.7% reduction) and a significantly lower preventable crash rate (5.1% reduction) than trucks not equipped with electronic logs.
8) ELDs do not cut into tight profit margins.
When the costs of ELDs are debated, the benefits are often left out of the equation.
An ELD can offer a significant return on investment, especially when it comes to improvements in fuel economy. Remember, ELDs are much more than expensive electronic driver logs. Many drivers who utilize ELDs are able to identify driving behaviors that cut into their profits — like idling, speeding, and hard braking. That means they can track improvements in driving performance and new trucking technologies.
Beyond truck and driver performance gains, ELDs and the ELD Mandate help fleets understand that driver time is an extremely precious (and limited) resource. When all drivers are bound to the same constraints – like driving 11 hours in a day, or being on-duty 60 or 70 hours in a week – drivers and fleets can focus on selling and making the most of that time instead of sitting idle (and unpaid) at a shipper’s dock.
9) It is not only the big fleets that are required to use an ELD.
Many large trucking companies have noted dramatic improvements in CSA scores and reduced operating costs following the implementation of electronic logging devices. Each day small fleets operating 20 trucks or less, realize those same improvements in their trucking operations.
The ELD Mandate does not discriminate on fleet size. Regardless of whether you have one truck or 10,000. If you file a Record of Duty Status, you will need an ELD. Additionally, the mandate also comes into play based on what is being transported, i.e. flammable or hazardous materials.
For small fleets that are worried about the price of devices – there are options that require a very small startup cost and available today. Additionally, the ROI can be immediate.
10) Your smartphone alone will not meet the ELD standards.
While the FMCSA is encouraging low price entry devices, a smartphone or tablet alone will not meet the ELD requirements. A device must also be “integrally synchronized” with the truck’s engine to comply.
A GPS-enabled cell phone cannot accurately track miles traveled. Only devices that have been certified and listed with the FMCSA will be considered compliant, making records from a GPS-only device or cell phone problematic in the case of an audit or inspection.
So, while you continue your research on ELD for your fleets, you may want to ensure your facts are coming from the resources that are experts in this field. There are actually many potential benefits and ROI to your fleet.
About Rob Garry – For more than 30 years, Rob has been running his own businesses and working with and for the largest communications companies in the world, and is currently co-founder and CEO of SensLynx, an IoT solutions provider for Fleet Tracking, Electronic Logging Devices, Wireless Internet backup, Out-of-Band Management, and other IoT-based applications.
About Senslynx – We have been working with fleet and trucking companies regarding ELD in recent years, in addition to the drivers themselves for training and support. We offer packages to choose from (including GPS tracking), depending upon your needs, and would be happy to explain the differences and benefits. #ELD #ELDexperts #ELDproducts.
Please call 760-576-6202 or visit our website at www.senslynx.com.