Every year around 700 truckers and others die due to truck collisions.[Source] These accidents result from overworked, fatigued, and sleepy drivers. Unfortunately, several people are affected by it drastically – both financially and physically. This problem grew huge and needed to be curbed from its roots. Therefore in 2019, FMCSA and DoT implemented ELD rules making it compulsory for every fleet manager and commercial truck driver to install an ELD to automatically record their Hours of Service and service data.
If someone is caught violating the rules stipulated by FMCSA and DoT under the ELD rule they can be penalized with hefty fines, and placed out of service, resulting in a negative CSA score. As ELDs have become compulsory, several fleet management companies have launched their ELDs. But it is very important to choose the best ELD for trucks to ensure compliance with the rule as well as avail other benefits for the fleet management.
What is an Electronic Logging Device?
Electronic Logging Device also known as ELD is electronic logbooks or driver e-logs. They are a more reliable way to collect hours of service data than the paper-pen way. ELDs are modern-day solutions for fleet compliance, inspections, planning, and management.
ELDs are connected directly with the engine of the motor vehicle and record the driving time. This information cannot be altered or falsified, though the driver or fleet managers can make edits, along with a valid reason for the said edit. However, these edits will also be recorded and the editor has to answer the inspection team about it.
This is not only a modern way of recording working hours but has been made compulsory to be in compliance with Hours of Service rules and maintain the integrity of the driver’s record of duty status.
Moreover, you cannot use just any ELD for trucks in the market; they need to conform to technical specifications prescribed by FMCSA [So, what do you mean by an FMCSA-compliant ELD? We have the answer.]. ELD for trucks also needs to be certified by their manufacturer and registered with the FMCSA.
How does ELD work?
Electronic logging devices are connected to the engine via hardwire to automatically record:
- Driving Time
- Engine Data
- Miles Covered
These data are sent to a server and then RODs are displayed on the smartphones or any attached device. This information is sent to the inspection team via Bluetooth, USB, Wireless web services, or emails.
What is the ELD rule?
“[FMCSA] announced the adoption of a Final Rule that will improve roadway safety by employing technology to strengthen commercial truck and bus drivers’ compliance with hours-of-service regulations that prevent fatigue.”
The FMCSA ELD Rule is a law that comprises commercial motor vehicle operators (as prescribed by the rule) who have to transit from traditional logging to modern electronic logging devices.
The FMCSA works in collaboration with the US Department of Transportation to improve road safety and prevent road accidents caused by trucks in the USA every year. Their main objective is to ensure a proper work environment for drivers, reduce overtime of drivers, enforce HoS rules and most importantly minimize road casualties.
Evolution of ELD Rule
The idea of the ELD began in 2012 but only after 2014, the FMCSA could release its proposal. Finally, in Dec 2015, the final rule was published and ready to be implemented.
It was implemented in three phases. Phase 1 refers to the period between Feb 2016 to Dec 2017. In this phase, motor carriers were encouraged to adopt ELD voluntarily. Then in the second phase (Dec 2017 to Dec 2019), non-exempt drivers were required to use either ELD or AOBRD. And in the final phase, all non-exempt drivers have to use ELDs.
Who Needs to Use ELD?
ELD rule applies to most commercial motor vehicle drivers. For instance, drivers who drive commercial vehicles
- made after 2000
- used for business purposes
- DOT (Department of Transportation) registered
- Travel inter-states
- Loads good weighing more than 10001+ pounds.
- Transport hazardous materials
- Transport 16 or more non-paying passengers
- Transports 9 or more paying passengers
Benefits of ELD for trucks
ELDs have several benefits, including, but not limited to, the aforementioned list.
Improved Drivers Safety
The most important motive behind the implementation of an ELD was to improve drivers’ safety. Every year, approximately 130,000 people are affected by truck accidents. This is a harsh statistic that causes suffering to the victims as well as their family members. Around 15% of these accidents are caused due to tired truck drivers. Truck drivers without any rules or regulations work day and night which is extremely dangerous for themselves as well as the people on the road. Hence the ELD rule was especially implemented to control the working hours of the drivers and improve their safety.
The other important benefit of an ELD is to manage compliance. ELD Compliance refers to compliance with the ELD rule. It means that all non-exempt commercial drivers have an FMCSA-registered ELD solution. If a non-exempt commercial driver is not having an ELD or is found he can be put out of service for more than ten hours or punished with hefty fines. Therefore, to prevent any kind of suspension or to avoid hefty fines you need to get an ELD.
Minimize Administrative Burden
An electronic logging device saves a lot of administrative burdens as it automatically tracks and records the vehicle movement and records the drivers’ HoS data. This saves time and effort that is wasted in manually registering the records. It is also cost-effective as well as time-saving for both fleet managers and drivers.
Reduce Fuel Wastage
With the help of ELD, you can have better control over your fleet’s fuel consumption. You can easily access the data of the respective vehicle and know how much time a driver has taken to transport the cargo. Certain bad driving practices also consume more fuel. Suppose one of your truck drivers is wasting his time and fuel in idling you can easily reprimand them and prevent any such activities in the future. This can not only help you in saving money by reducing fuel usage but also save time.
An ELD can also help you with the maintenance of your vehicle. It is plugged into the OBD II port and hence can detect any fault codes, average mileage, and other important dates related to the nines. It sends you an alert whenever such code is detected and also identifies recurring issues. This gives you a better insight into your vehicle and you can resolve any small problem before it becomes a huge one and causes problems.
An ELD can also help you to access the driving behavior of your drivers. This is a crucial benefit for any fleet manager as bad driving behaviors increase the risk of accidents, loss of cargo, and depletion of the asset. For example, if one of your drivers has a bad driving habit such as excessive acceleration, harsh braking, steep corner in, or sudden braking then you can talk to them and help them to improve it for mutual benefits. This can decrease the risk of accidents and liabilities at a huge margin. Moreover, as a fleet manager, you can have a proper record of each driver and you can easily train the poor performer and appraise the best one.
Improve in Work Environment of Driver
ELD has a great impact on the working environment of drivers. With proper working hours and a better track record, they can have a proper rest and a stress-free work environment. This also improves their efficiency and reduces road accidents by huge margins.
Location Tracking and Better Fleet Management
ELD comes with in-built real-time GPS tracking features. It facilitates fleet managers to have a proper record of their fleets. They have a proper understanding of their trucks and can reduce the communication gap between the customers. You won’t have to be able to depend on the driver for a better record of your truck’s real-time location.
For instance, if you are assigned to transport an expensive car in the oven time. You can only depend on your driver to track the location of the truck. In the meanwhile, if your partner or customer enquired you about the time when the cargo will be delivered then what will you do? At the peak of misfortune, you lose the connection with your driver. What will be the result? Loss of cargo, trust, and hence harmful consequences for your business in the long term.
Top 5 ELD for Trucks [Reviewed]
Here is the list of best ELD for trucks to help the owner-operators:
How to Choose the Best ELD for your Trucks or Fleets?
Before you come up with a decision it is extremely important to understand the measures on which you must determine the best ELD for trucks.
The first and foremost thing you should check is whether the ELD is restored and self-certified through the FMCSA or not. You are solely responsible to check if the device is compliant with the ELD rules or not.
Accuracy and Reliability
An ELD device must provide an accurate and reliable logging report.
Hard wired or Bluetooth connections
The next thing you should check is whether it is directly connected to the vehicle or depends on Bluetooth connectivity.
Fleet management features
The other thing you should look at in an ELD device is whether it has features to help you with fleet management such as in-built GPS trackers, geofencing features, drive scoring, fuel tax reporting, etc.
Easy to use and install
Another important thing is to check whether the respective ELD comes with an easy-to-use interface and helps drivers to manage the records easily. The ELD should be easy to install as well to avoid any hassles.
These were some best ELD for trucks or other vehicles and a guide on how to choose them. Remember ELD is not a choice but is compulsory. Always look for an ELD device that is registered with FMCSA and is easy to use and install. Moreover, it should have other fleet management features and excellent customer care services.