There are numerous rumors, myths, and misconceptions about the new Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate these days. That has caused many businesses in the trucking industry to regard electronic logging devices as damaging or harmful to their organizations.
Furthermore, some trucking companies have decided to put off implementing ELD solutions, and thus missed many benefits these systems can bring to businesses. Consequently, those companies waste a lot of money on a daily basis by splurging on unnecessary costs they’d otherwise avoid with ELDs installed and used.
Here, we’re going to demystify ELD myths and provide the facts trucking companies and truckers need to know about. We will try to separate facts from fiction and help them get a clear picture of required ELD solutions. This should cause them to embrace e-log technology and switch to Electronic Logging Device.
Table of Contents
- 1 1) Myth: ELDs negatively affect drivers’ performance by requiring drivers to interact with these devices while on the road
- 2 2) Myth: ELDs appear to be confusing and difficult to use
- 3 3) Myth: ELDs can’t improve road safety
- 4 4) Myth: ELDs report HOS-related violations automatically
- 5 5) Myth: ELDs mandate puts owner-operators out of business
- 6 6) Myth: ELDs are pricey and cost-prohibitive
- 7 7) Myth: ELDs invade the privacy of truck drivers
- 8 8) Myth: Only large fleets have to use ELDs
- 9 9) Myth: ELDs may shut down vehicles
- 10 10) Myth: Smartphones can be used as an alternative for ELDs
1) Myth: ELDs negatively affect drivers’ performance by requiring drivers to interact with these devices while on the road
Some people claim that ELD devices need constant interaction and attention from a driver while driving a vehicle. This way, ELDs impair driving experience and drivers’ performance instead of improving working conditions. By tinkering with ELDs all the time, their performance and safety are affected negatively.
Breaking one of the most common eld myths, ELDs have been proven to improve driving performance and habits, allowing fleet drivers to make adjustments and change the way they drive. While the drivers must log in and select a driver’s status (On Duty, Off-Duty, or Sleep Mode), once the wheels start to roll, ELDs will automatically update the status and keep the driving time of the vehicle.
The driver interaction isn’t needed at all or is reduced to a bare minimum while the vehicle is in motion. Audible alerts ensure that drivers keep their eyes on the road and be aware of HoS violations since the device automatically reports hos violations to the vehicle owner. This can get truck drivers to maximize their performance while driving on the road.
2) Myth: ELDs appear to be confusing and difficult to use
Many truck drivers delay implementing ELDs because they consider them to be complicated and confusing. These devices have a steep learning curve. Is there any reason to worry?
Once an ELD has been set up, it immediately connects with the vehicle engine and collects data so that there’s not much to do manually. Most Electronic Logging Device solutions are designed to be simple and easy to use. Plus, most ELD provider vendors provide customer or technical support.
It’s true that the web dashboard may look somewhat complex, but with a few hours or days of training, most fleet managers get the hang of how it works and contribute to better fleet management.
3) Myth: ELDs can’t improve road safety
Some carriers and drivers have doubts about the ability of ELD solutions to improve truck as well as driver safety, while others think that those devices even make drivers less safe. ELDs don’t really control the trucks, so they do not dictate lane changes, speed, and following distance.
ELDs are intended to reduce accidents that involve driver fatigue or driver overtime. Research shows that many drivers who use ELDs have a notably lower crash rate (both total and preventable) than those who don’t use e-logs.
Electronic logs essentially help with driver safety in two ways – the help in detecting fault codes and preventing drivers from breaking HoS rules which ultimately results in a lower crash rate.
HOS violations are automatically transmitted and reported to inspectors or law enforcement through ELDs, which trigger violations by default in no time. This enables authorities to have real-time access to all drivers’ logs. Is it true?
Just because ELDs allow officers to quickly detect HoS violations (if any at all), it doesn’t mean they are communicated and reported to law authorities or roadside inspection for revision or audit. Instead, ELD systems preventively warn truckers of violations.
ELD devices only generate and transmit reports when fleet managers or commercial drivers process them voluntarily. Data and reports are requested in either compliance audits or roadside inspections.
5) Myth: ELDs mandate puts owner-operators out of business
Owner-operators are concerned about overtime changes caused by the ELD mandate. Many of them prefer to work overtime and get paid (by mileage) for the duration (sometimes up to 15 hours a day). They consider regulated hours not sufficient to make enough money to live. Due to the loss of driving hours, ELDs mandate will push them out of business.
E-logs can save time and money by helping truck drivers to get more time on the road. This impacts the pay rate. Commercial drivers who have already adopted e-logging and experienced savings refuse to go back to paper logbooks.
ELDs record changes in duty status down to the nearest minute, in contrast to paper logs that involve rounding up to the nearest fifteen minutes. That results in more miles posted.
Aside from eliminating errors, ELDs allow drivers to spend less time filing reports, calculating HOS, and drawing lines. This is where the saving comes from.
6) Myth: ELDs are pricey and cost-prohibitive
Most companies in the trucking industry avoid investing in ELDs because they cost too much and can allegedly carve out a massive dent in their budget. Not only are some of these devices expensive, but they are also not cost-effective in some cases.
Even though there are expensive onboard recorders and tracking solutions on the market, most of them pay for themselves in the long run by maximizing drive time, lowering operating expenses, and reducing paperwork. Fewer HOS penalties and violations, along with the lower crash rate, also make ELDs cost-effective. The device automatically reports HOS violations by the driver to owners and help in saving them from violations related to Hours of Service that would otherwise be caught by law enforcement.
Moreover, new technologies tend to reduce upfront costs and hardware charges, whereas more and more ELD providers offer affordable and convenient packages. The annual cost of a typical ELD is around $500 per vehicle, and not many vendors charge considerably above this.
Even so, it is always a good idea to use the price comparison charts to find the most economical ELD solution and avoid getting ripped off. This will ensure that you get your money’s worth.
7) Myth: ELDs invade the privacy of truck drivers
A lot of carriers are concerned that electronic logging devices will monitor their location while invading their privacy and violating their rights. So, is there any justifiable reason to be concerned?
ELDs allow fleet managers to monitor their vehicles’ locations in real-time, but only when they are in motion or the engine is running. There are privacy provisions (involved by ELD mandate) that make drivers’ life a whole lot easier by making tracking and logging time more accurate.
If drivers use vehicles for their personal conveyance or any personal interest, the fleet managers can access location data. Only the authorized fleet staff at the workplace can trace the driver’s location.
The trucks that are being utilized for personal interests whatsoever can be monitored just with a certain radius – usually 8 or 10 miles. So, the ELDs don’t barge into truck drivers’ privacy by any means.
8) Myth: Only large fleets have to use ELDs
Small companies in the trucking companies aren’t required to switch to ELDs. That’s just another myth.
The size of the fleet is not a stipulation or requirement to comply with the ELD mandate required by FMCSA. All commercial fleets are required to switch from paper logs to ELDs (e-logs), whether they operate 10 or 1,000 trucks. While there are a few exceptions, the fleet size is not one of them.
The ELD mandate as put forward by FMCSA doesn’t differentiate small from large fleets. Every commercial fleet, regardless of its size, that files RODS are required to have electronic logging devices.
Both small and big fleets who have implemented ELDs have seen considerable improvements in their operations – lowered operating costs and increased CSA scores.
9) Myth: ELDs may shut down vehicles
Some truckers are fooled into thinking that ELDs would bring their trucks to a standstill shutting them down when exceeding hours of service. This is incorrect.
The commercial truck drivers are the only ones who need to decide on when and where the trucks can be stopped safely. Sometimes they need suggestions from fleet managers on where to park the vehicles.
ELDs are meant to alert operators of possible violations and record engine data instead of taking control of vehicles. They also record any instance of hard braking. That said, rest assured that an ELD can’t shut down the truck automatically even if the driver violates HOS rules.
10) Myth: Smartphones can be used as an alternative for ELDs
Many people are tempted to think that smartphones alone can meet all the ELD requirements. While cell phones can be used as standalone devices for many things today, they are not omnipotent.
A tablet or smartphone alone can’t meet the ELD rules. Your smartphone must be paired up with an ELD and synced with your truck’s engine to ensure compliance. This means you should connect an ELD to your truck’s diagnostic port.
That involves a specially designed hardware plugin. There’s no way to connect a smartphone to the port directly. Moreover, GPS-enabled smartphones can’t track miles traveled accurately.
Once you’ve connected your smartphone to an engine-paired ELD, you would be able to download the relevant mobile apps and use them with the electronic logging device. Make sure your ELD is FMCSA certified.
Every commercial truck owner needs to educate himself about eld myths and not fall prey to any one of the above-mentioned myths.