Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
The importance of the trucking industry in the US cannot be overemphasized. Our nation’s truck drivers move over 70% of all freight from one destination to another. This includes food, beverages, raw materials, medicine, fuel, and everyday goods. And the numbers are eye-opening. Truck drivers transport close to $80 billion worth of goods each year, with a total annual tonnage topping 10 billion tons. The American Transportation Association (ATA) expects annual truck tonnage to reach 14 million in five years. The demand for new drivers is projected to grow yearly at 6% over the next decade.
There are a few challenges that truck drivers face. For example, they need to be on the road for long periods of time, which can be hard on their family life. Truck drivers also have demanding job duties which require them to work long hours and have limited breaks. So, the last thing they want to do after a long haul is to use a paper-based logging system. Enter the electronic logging device (ELD), a faster and easier way for truckers to record their driving hours accurately. This Balboa Capital blog article explains what an ELD is, how it works, and more.
The ABCs of ELD.
The use of electronic logging systems for truckers dates back to 1986 when the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) first recommended them to the Department of Transportation. Wireless technology was still evolving, making it extremely hard for truckers to transmit information. Over the years, numerous studies were conducted, rules and regulations were proposed (and struck down by the court), and wireless technology made significant advancements.
Fast-forward to 2016, when the ELD mandate was approved and signed into law. Realizing the need to give truckers time to learn about compliant ELDs and acquire them for their trucks, the ELD mandate featured a three-phase implementation timeline. As of December 2019, all truck drivers and carriers must track their hours with compliant ELDs. However, certain exceptions to the ELD mandate may be subject to change, and you can read about them on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) website. For example, most truck engines manufactured in 2000 or prior are not equipped with an engine control module, which is needed for an ELD to work. So, trucks with engines manufactured in 2000 or prior are currently exempt from using an electronic logging system.
How electronic logging devices work.
An electronic logging device is a device that truck drivers use to accurately track their hours and other data relating to the vehicle’s engine. These devices are used in the trucking industry to ensure compliance with federal regulations, most notably hours-of-service (HOS).
An ELD is comprised of the vehicle tracking device that typically plugs into a port below the truck dashboard, fleet management software, and a mobile app. Truck drivers can use their mobile phones or tablets to open the mobile app and see their logging data, which updates in real-time. Because the logging information is accessible to both drivers and dispatchers via the cloud, there are no question marks regarding miles driven, engine hours, and location. Instead, this information is readily available to both parties right on the app. ELDs also feature other capabilities that benefit drivers and fleet managers. These include vehicle status reports, vehicle maintenance alerts, and route management.
More benefits of ELDs.
In addition to compiling accurate logging data for drivers and carriers, ELDs help improve highway safety and boost productivity. For example, truck drivers have to deal with the monotony of driving for long periods, which can result in tiredness and fatigue. ELDs let truck drivers know when they should look for a destination to relax, stretch, and take a much-needed break. In addition, regularly scheduled stops can help drivers stay focused and alert and reduce the chances of being involved in an accident.
Next, electronic logging devices help streamline workflows for trucking companies of all sizes, which increases efficiency. Tasks such as loading trucks with cargo and goods, planning routes, and getting drivers on the road take time. Fleet operators are tired of dealing with paper-based driver logs, unassigned miles, delivery assignments, and vehicle inspections. ELDs replace these time-consuming methods of logging information and data. In addition to saving time, ELDs can save money. Research shows that ELD solutions can help save over $900 per driver annually.
Picking the right electronic logging device.
Whether you own one truck or an entire fleet, you have options for selecting an ELD provider. You can start by looking at the list of registered ELDs on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration does not endorse or promote any electronic logging devices; it instead features a list of devices that meet current ELD technical requirements and that have been self-certified by their manufacturer. You will also see a list of ELDS that have been revoked.
Once you purchase or finance an ELD model for your needs, you will need to have it installed by a technician or your ELD provider. Check the instruction manual that accompanies your purchase to learn the ins and outs of your ELD, so you fully understand how to use it and interpret its results. For example, you cannot begin using your device until you know how to input, certify and share hours-of-service information.
The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.