If you belong to the fleet industry in the US and Canada as a fleet owner, operator, manager, or CMV driver, you probably are already using an ELD. Since FMCSA in the US and Transport Canada’s Motor Carrier Division in Canada mandatorily implemented ELDs in CMVs, fleet companies, and owner-operators have had to make provisions for the same in their budget.
Since then, ELDs have become an indispensable part of commercial vehicles as they optimize routes, track vehicles in real-time to prevent accidents and ensure your driver’s and vehicle’s safety. But how much does an ELD cost in 2023?
Well, as per Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s estimates, an electronic logging device with telematics costs $419 annually, whereas one with USB 2.0 and Bluetooth connectivity costs $166 only. That said, ELD cost remains a mystery in 2023 and varies depending on the type of hardware you choose, its features, installation costs, integration with other solutions, subscriptions, and more.
So what is the actual electronic logging device cost in 2023, and how would it impact your budget this fiscal year? Keep reading to find out!
What is the ELD cost in 2023?
On average, the cost of an ELD varies anywhere between $166 to $419. But is this the definitive cost? Is $419 the ceiling limit for ELD pricing?
This device’s cost depends on a myriad of factors and differs for each fleet owner, operator, and manager, depending on the type of hardware they choose, its installation cost, the learning curve, and more.
So it’s essential to understand the factors that impact the cost. Without further ado, here are the key factors that impact ELD pricing:
Types Of ELD Devices
The type of device you choose will significantly impact your budget. You can go with a hardwired one, wherein you’ll have to purchase and install it in your fleet. Or you could go with a BYOD one, wherein the driver or fleet owner just needs a smart device—mobile or tablet—to comply with the ELD rules.
Let’s understand the two types of ELD better with the help of an example.
For instance, if you pick hardware that costs $50 per device and your fleet consists of 200 trucks, you’ll have to shell out $10000. The hardwired legacy systems are a good option for recording mileage, tracking fleet location, and calculating engine hours.
Alternatively, if you decide to go forward with a BYOD (bring your device) one, you’ll just have to shell out the money for the apps needed to support the respective ELD rules in the US and Canada. Since most drivers and owners can access a smart device, you won’t have to factor in the hardware costs. They are also flexible, user-friendly, and portable.
Some ELD apps for BYOD solutions might also be free or offer a free trial to use the one that best suits your requirements.
Moreover, the vendor you choose will also have a huge impact on your budget. So pick one of the two types of devices, or you could go with a hybrid one that combines hardwired ELD with BYOD solutions to give fleet owners the best of both worlds without incurring huge hardware costs or worrying about being compliant with ELD rules.
Type of features
While some fleet owners go with devices that meet the basic requirements of the mandates, others want additional features to take maximum advantage. Generally, the more sophisticated a device, the more its price.
Some ELD solutions also come with subscription plans to give you a complete overview of your business operations with their fleet management solutions.
Since most hardware needs to be installed in a commercial vehicle, it must be taken care of by experts. This process is critical because if your drivers encounter any device-related issues while on the road and the solution stops functioning, they will be placed out of service for 8 hours, and you’ll have to incur the fees too.
So ensure that you get a quality professional to handle the installation for your fleet.
Integration with other solutions
An ELD solution that can be integrated with other apps will offer you a personalized solution. Such solutions can be partnered with third-party apps to make your fleet management options endless.
For instance, see if you can integrate your device with other functional applications like toll bypass.
It will make your drivers’ lives easier and provide them with more comprehensive solutions. You could also integrate your existing systems with your new device without overhauling your IT infrastructure.
You’ll also have to factor in the number of vehicles in your fleet, the subscription model of your preferred device, the length of the contract with the vendor, activation, and deactivation charges, and any other hidden charges. This will help you calculate the accurate cost of the solution you’d like to install.
Factor time spent on training drivers
You’ll also have to set aside some time for your drivers to become comfortable with the device you chose. But the more time your employees spend learning to use it, the more money you will lose.
If your preferred device is not intuitive or user-friendly, your drivers will have a steep learning curve ahead of them. So instead of taking advantage of the solution, they’ll spend most of their time figuring out the features and functionalities.
Cost Analysis – ELD Cost vs Fines and Penalties
To help you better understand the gravity of the situation, here’s a rundown of the fines and penalties you’ll have to endure if you don’t comply with the ELD rules:
- ELD violations are categorized based on their violation group and assigned severity weight scores on a scale of 1 to 10. For instance, if a driver is caught driving a commercial vehicle while they’re ill, the severity score will be 10. Remember, the higher the severity score, the higher the penalty imposed.
- The violation fees can range anywhere from $1000 to $10,000.
- Non-compliant drivers can also be placed out of service for up to 10 hours, costing you about $300. You’ll lose about $300 to $400 getting your truck towed too.
You won’t just have to endure fines and penalties but also contend with a low CSA (compliance, safety, accountability) score for non-compliance with the ELD rule. It will negatively impact your goodwill and reliability in the market, shaking customer confidence.
A low CSA rating will cost your existing and potential customers and lead to more time-consuming roadside inspections.
Besides allowing you to attract more consumers with a good CSA score, such a device makes it easier for you to:
- maintain the hours of service record for your fleet,
- track the location of your vehicles at all times,
- record fuel usage,
- automate reporting,
- receive violation alerts,
- file IFTA tax documents,
- keep tabs on your fleet’s idle time, and
- get accurate travel logs.
A robust device also provides real-time safety management and risk alerts, enhancing the safety of your assets and ensuring that your drivers have a safe journey. With less time spent on administrative tasks, improved safety, and reduced legal liabilities, ELDs help you offer a better driver experience and a high ROI (return on investment) on your one-time investment.
Though these have become mainstream after the mandate, they’ll help you cut down on fuel expenses and offer competitive services to your clients if you choose a dependable electronic logging device.
Factors to Consider When Choosing an ELD
Now that you know that these devices are a one-time investment with the potential for a high ROI, you must pick one after considering a few factors. Here are a few things to consider while choosing an ELD:
Compliance with FMCSA regulations
If you operate your fleet within the US borders, it’s paramount that the device you choose is among FMCSA’s list of approved ELDs. Since such a solution must meet several technical specifications directed by the Department of Transportation (DOT), not every vendor on the market will be FMCSA-compliant.
Selecting a non-compliant device would drain your bank account and lead to penalties. So before investing in an ELD, check if it’s on FMCSA’s approved list.
Ease of installation and use
After you choose an FMCSA-compliant device, it’s essential to find out if there are any additional installation charges. If yes, determine how it would affect your budget and whether you can afford it for your entire fleet.
Moreover, you should check if it’s easy to install. At the time of purchase, you might pay an expert to install the device, but what happens if there are some technical issues while your drivers are on the road and need to reconfigure the ELD? Easy-to-install hardware will work wonders for your entire fleet and be preferred by your drivers.
Compatibility with your fleet management system
Your chosen device might offer you a wide range of features. But if it’s not compatible with your existing fleet management system, then it’s not the right choice for you.
Your fleet management system and chosen device must be compatible with each other so that you can take advantage of both these systems and reduce the workload of your fleet managers, improve visibility, and lead to better management of resources.
Reliability and durability
While finalizing a device, check if it transmits accurate HoS data, its most basic requirement, and whether it can be relied upon. Discover the device’s uptime and find out if it depends on third parties for its hardware or software solutions.
If you’re satisfied with the device’s reliability, check out if it’s durable or if you’ll need to replace or upgrade it a few years down the line. A good way to ascertain the device’s durability is to check its warranty period.
Bonus points if it can evolve with your business needs and support its growth and expansion.
User-friendly interface for drivers and administrators
Once a device meets most of your requirements, don’t forget to see if the device is user-friendly. If it’s too technical or if there are too many steps involved, it’ll end up confusing your drivers. They will be caught up in finding the feature they’re looking for and managing the e-log apps.
They might even end up misusing the device, let alone utilizing its varied features. It will affect their productivity and frustrate them, increasing your driver turnover rate. Since time is money, the more time you spend training and replacing your drivers, the more money you lose.
ELD user data security and privacy protections
A device will be collecting and relaying a lot of data, especially if you own a large fleet. Your vehicle and driver details in the wrong hands could prove disastrous.
So ensure that your chosen device only collects necessary data, such as date, time, location information, engine hours, vehicle miles, driver identification information, authorized users information, and motor carrier. They shouldn’t capture more data than what is required for DOT compliance.
Customer support and training options
Finally, monitor your device provider’s customer support quality and the time they take to respond to your queries. Your drivers can face a myriad of technical problems while they’re on the road. So they must receive 24*7 customer support to always comply with the ELD rules.
A chatbot might be helpful, but if your driver is facing connectivity issues, their cellular data connection won’t make for a very active chat with the bot. To avoid such circumstances, ensure your device provider has a live customer support option where they can speak with the agent in real-time to resolve their issues.
Though these factors are not exhaustive, following them will help you select an ELD device that fits your needs. But if you don’t have the time or resources to go through these steps individually, simply choose Matrack.
Matrack ELD is a leading ELD Service provider designed to provide the best-in-class solutions to the trucking industry. Matrack is your best choice for an ELD since:
- It’s FMCSA-compliant and is on its approved ELD list.
- Its plug-and-play installation doesn’t require any configuration, allowing you to install the devices within 5 minutes. The cherry on top: it’s compatible with all types of vehicles.
- You can generate HoS reports, accident reports, state mileage reports, and more with just one click and at no additional cost.
- Its automated fleet manager dashboard lets you file and generate accurate IFTA and other audit reports within minutes, saving you money, time, and effort.
- It has an excellent live customer support system with an average wait time of just 10 minutes for any complaint. You can either speak to a live agent or get support over SMS.
- It’s reliable, cost-effective, and boasts 99.99% uptime.
- You get the device for free, and there are zero legal obligations or contracts you need to sign.
Need we say more? Well, Matrack does offer a lifetime warranty, provides real-time alerts, and doesn’t charge you for your co-drivers.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: What is an ELD?
A: An ELD, or Electronic Logging Device, is the hardware used by commercial motor vehicle drivers to record their hours of service.
Q: Why are ELDs necessary?
A: ELDs are necessary because they help ensure that drivers comply with federal hours-of-service regulations, which are in place to prevent driver fatigue and improve safety on the roads.
Q: How much does an ELD cost in 2023?
A: The cost of an ELD in 2023 can vary widely depending on the features and capabilities of the device. Generally, you can expect to pay anywhere from $150 to $1,000 per device.
Q: Are there any ongoing costs associated with ELDs?
A: Yes, there may be ongoing costs associated with ELDs, such as monthly service fees or data plan costs for cellular connectivity.
Q: Do all commercial motor vehicles need to have an ELD?
A: In most cases, yes. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires most commercial motor vehicles to have ELDs installed.
Q: Can I use my smartphone or tablet as an ELD?
A: Yes, you can use a smartphone or tablet as an ELD, but it must meet specific technical requirements set by the FMCSA.
Q: Are there any exemptions to the ELD rule?
A: Yes, there are a few exemptions to the ELD rule. For example, drivers who operate under the short-haul exception or who use paper logs for eight days or less per 30-day period are exempt.
Q: Do ELDs improve safety on the roads?
A: Yes, ELDs can improve safety on the roads by helping to prevent driver fatigue, which is a leading cause of accidents involving commercial motor vehicles. They can also help ensure that drivers comply with federal hours-of-service regulations.
The hardware, software, or subscription cost of such devices is not the only cost associated with them. You need to consider other essential factors to reach an accurate number. Moreover, a cost-benefit analysis is important to understand how these mandatory ELDs are helping your business.
Understanding the true cost of such a device and its ROI will aid you in choosing the one that fits your budget and requirements and keeps you compliant with the ELD rule.
James Johnson is a former truck driver who now works as a writer, specializing in the trucking industry. With over 15 years of experience on the road, James has a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities faced by truck drivers and the trucking industry as a whole. His writing focuses on issues such as safety, regulation, and the latest industry trends. His work has been featured in several trucking publications and he has received recognition for his contributions to the industry. In his free time, James still enjoys being around trucks and often attends truck shows and other industry events.