An owner operator is a truck driver who owns and operates a trucking business. They are different from company drivers as they own a truck and drive at their will.
Today there are almost 350,000 owner-operators out there in the USA. They all are responsible for all expenses and management of their business. If you are a new owner-operator and wondering where you should begin, we suggest looking for an ELD.
In 2019, FMCSA made ELD compulsory for all carriers falling under HoS and DoT jurisdiction. If you are not using it, you violate the ELD mandate and are subject to heavy fines and bad CSA scores. They both are harmful to your business reputation. Additionally, a bad CSA score can lead to high insurance costs.
It doesn’t imply that you can go and buy any ELD out there. FMCSA specifies certain features that an ELD should have to protect you from ELD violations.
You can skip the chaos of researching an ideal FMCSA-compliant ELD by looking at our curated list of 10 Best ELDs for Owner Operators on the market.
Why Do Owner Operators Need An ELD?
An owner operator is an individual that owns a trucking business. They are responsible for managing every aspect of its operations.
They either have to find freights for themselves using load boards and tracking apps. Or can sign a lease with a trucking company that manages their administrative and dispatching jobs for a small fee.
But if you are wondering why you need an ELD or what are the benefits that you will get by investing in ELDs for Owner Operators, then here are some of them for you:
The main motive of the rule was to improve road safety and prevent accidents. The FMCSA found in one of its research that ELD can reduce crashes and fatalities associated.
Though many organizations such as OOIDA argued against the statement, we cannot still deny the role of ELD in improving working conditions for drivers.
- First of all, it allows drivers to work according to HoS rules. It prevents overtime and hence fatigues behind the wheels.
- Secondly, many vendors allow you to monitor your and your drivers’ driving behavior in real-time. You can get an alert as the device detects reckless driving activity, for instance, harsh braking, speeding, sharp cornering, or sudden acceleration.
They also offer GPS tracking, route management, and other similar features that can help you to prevent accidents.
As an owner-operator, you are responsible for document management in your business. It is not a simple task. You have to record the relevant data for IFTA, IRP, and DVIR liabilities. You also have to review handwritten logs and manually record HoS. It is tedious and time-consuming work.
How can you avoid it altogether by choosing an ELD? It can help you to eliminate paper logs and automate document management. It also eliminates human error and saves you from fines. According to FMCSA, you can increase your profits by $705 per year by spending more time on roads than on administrative tasks.
Increase Drive Time
An ELD can help you to increase the driving time in different ways:
- As already discussed above, an ELD can help you to save time by automating document management.
- By switching from paper logs to electronic logging devices, you can increase your driving time by one or two hours.
- An ELD can prevent unexpected breakdowns and maximize your driving time.
Fuel Consumption And Vehicle Diagnostic
Fuel expenses occupy a large share of trucking business expenses. The other one is vehicle maintenance.
- Vehicle idling is one of the biggest causes of fuel wastage and increases your fuel expenses. An ELD can help you to monitor and reduce idle time.
- On the other hand, as the ELD is connected to the vehicle engine through the OBD port, it derives various data. It can detect minor fault codes, and you can fix them before it becomes big and causes unexpected breakdowns.
At the same time, the driver can use electronic DVIR to report a malfunction or defect. You can get an immediate alert. And you will get enough time to repair the vehicle.
Prevent ELD Violations
One of the primary benefits of an ELD is that it can help you prevent ELD violations and related penalties & fines.
Do you know that around 40% of top driver violations are for logbook infractions? Having an ideal ELD in your tracking business can help you keep your logbook current and in the correct format.
Low Insurance Premium
An ELD can help you to prevent an increase in CSA scores. Though FMCSA has removed the CSA score from the public view, insurance companies and private services can still access it.
A better CSA score can assure the insurance company that you are a good driver. And then they can lower your insurance cost. Additionally, it also helps you to get better loads.
How Can ELDs for Owner Operators Save you Money?
According to FMCSA, a driver can save up to $705 per year with ELD. If you are wondering how then here is the breakdown of it.
- Driver filling RODS: $487
- Driver Submitting RODS: $56
- Clerk filing RODS: $120
- Saving by eliminating paper driver logbook: $42
- Total paperwork saving: $705
What Type Of ELD for owner operator Do You Need?
If you are working under your authority, you can buy any FMCSA-certified ELD. The Owner operator can have two accounts- one as a fleet manager (back-end office) and one as a driver. You can also provide a separate driver account for your other drivers.
But if you are working under a contract with another fleet, then you will have to use the brand and model of the ELD as they specify because they are the ones that will pay the upper and associated costs.
Here are some factors you should consider before purchasing an ELD:
The first thing you should ensure is that a device is compatible with your vehicle.
An ELD will only prevent you from ELD violation and related fines if it is fully FMCSA-compliant.
An ELD is important for your trucking business, but it should not cost you an arm and a leg.
A vendor should provide good customer service so that if you ever encounter any issue with the device, they can help you solve it.
An ELD for owner operator should help you beyond ELD compliance. It should offer several features to help you optimize business operations.
10 Best ELDs for Owner Operators Reviewed
The purpose of this article is to LIST the best products in the market, and not to review or rank them. All the products listed here for Best ELDs for Owner Operators have several unique features catering to a wide range of customer requirements.
Matrack ELD is an intuitive and affordable ELD solution for all owner-operators and small fleets out there. It offers you a free hardware unit at the lowest monthly subscription fee of $14.95 in the market. The company also does not bind you with any contract. You can activate or deactivate the plan according to your will.
So if you are refraining from buying an ELD because you think it will burn a hole in your pocket, this is the ideal option. The device will help you to increase revenue and savings with its features.
The device is fully FMCSA-certified and sends real-time alerts so you can avoid violations. It is a Bluetooth-based ELD system. Consequently, you can stay 100% compliant with the rules even in remote areas.
You also don’t have to incur any additional costs for the co-drivers. The drivers have to switch the profile when they drive on the same device. It automates the documentation and hence saves your time and effort. And you can use the same in revenue generation activities.
Matrack allows the drivers to change that duty status with the voice on the mobile application. So your driver doesn’t have to spend hours learning the complicated process and use their time on increasing their earnings.
The device also gives you detailed reports about fuel efficiency, vehicle health, and driver behavior. It provides you with clear insight into different operations and helps you to make vital decisions.
Notable features of this ELD are:-
- Compliance monitoring
- DoT inspection mode
- Fleet tracking
- Multiple HoS rule
- IFTA report
- Effective accident reporting
- And many more.
Gomotive, formerly known as KeepTruckin ELD, is an affordable and feature-packed solution. It is fully FMCSA-registered and certified, which helps you ensure compliance all over North America.
The device helps you avoid HoS violations by sending an alert to the drivers before they exceed their HoS limits. The early warnings give your drivers time to park their vehicle without violating any law. You don’t have to buy an additional device for co-drivers. You can manage their HoS on one device by switching the driver profile in the application.
Automatic compliance management helps you save countless hours and reduce violations. The device analyses historical patterns and dashcam images to resolve unidentified trips to the authorized drivers.
GoMotive provides you with complete visibility of your fleet. You can view compliance health and manage data to avoid violations.
Another notable benefit of this device is that it can help you get discounts on your insurance premiums. You can get up to a 25% reduction in your insurance cost by sharing the predicted scores of Gomotive with your insurance company.
There are many more features such as automated IFTA reports, DVIRs, Yard move, etc.
EROAD Ehubo ELD is a user-friendly device made with the drivers in mind. It allows you to avoid the hassle of HoS compliance with easy-to-use, accurate, and consistent solutions.
EROAD offers a reliable, in-vehicle ELD. With its intuitive touchscreen, the drivers can easily maintain their work status. They can log in, change duty status, edit and verify logs, and do many other things to comply. The device automatically captures the driving status and other required data so you can focus on other significant things.
The data captured is securely transferred to the cloud storage. The back office can access them through the web portal or mobile application for inspection, IFTA compliance, etc. It offers exceptional customer care, so you can reach them anytime to resolve a query and avoid stress.
The EROAD allows you to combine ELD functionality with the fleet management software to optimize different operations such as IFTA report driver safety and DVIR of the business.
Garmin e-log compliant ELD is a simple solution that allows you to stay in compliance with the FMCSA mandates. It is a stand-alone device that supports both 9-pin and 6-pin diagnostic ports. So it fits in most of the trucks.
It is a one-time investment. You have to buy it, install it, and enjoy compliance monitoring. You don’t have to incur any subscription or installation costs.
Additionally, it has a simple installation. All you need is to take out the device from the box, plug it into the vehicle, download the free Garmin mobile application, and then you are ready.
To manage compliance, you can download the free Garmin e-log application on your compatible smartphone or tablet. The data is always stored on your compatible device, not in the cloud storage. So you can view it anytime for other operations. You can also share the data with the roadside inspection team via USB flash drive or FMCSA web service over Bluetooth.
GPSTrackit ELD is a comprehensive, easy-to-use, and FMCSA-compliant ELD solution. It is an all-in-one solution for your compliance needs. It is FMCSA-compliant, driver approved and made entirely in the USA.
It helps you to stay complaints, as well as paper waste in your organization. By using this ELD, you can eliminate paper locks in your company and get automated HoS logs. It saves both your time and money. You can use your attention in revenue-generating activities.
It also helps you avoid FMCSA or DoT violations by eradicating human error. It also sends real-time alerts to drivers to keep them informed about their working hours.
The automation and real-time alerts can save you and your organization from heavy fines and bad CSA scores.
The other notable features of this ELD are- an easy-to-use interface, customized driver alert, durable design, quickly generating and transmitting reports, etc.
Rand McNally ELD 50 is a compact e-logging device and has simple installation. It allows the driver to view and certify logs with ease. The device can help to stay compliant with the prevailing rules, improve driver safety and boost productivity in your business.
You can install the device in a few seconds. And then pair it with your devices such as a tablet or phone. It allows you to use your Android or iOS device to view and certify logs, complete DVIRs, and change duty status.
You have to use your active internet connection to transmit E-logs to the back office. The device can store data for two straight days in lack of active mobile data availability.
The ELD 50 directly connects to the engine and transmits engine data to the DriverConnect app. You can download this application on your iOS or Android device from the App Store or Play Store.
You can view ten different diagnostic gauges, including:
- Average fuel economy
- Boost pressure
- Gallons per hour
- Battery voltage
- Coolant temperature
- Oil pressure
The data can help you make educated decisions for your business and boost productivity.
Samsara ELD is an FMCSA-certified device that connects to the vehicle’s engine through an OBD port and derives accurate logs, diagnostic reports, and safety information.
It has a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot, so you don’t need to connect to your cellular data plans to send logs. It also implies that you can stay compliant even in areas without a proper cellular network.
The driver can easily edit, review or certify their HoS logs from the Samsara drivers application. It is available on the App Store or Play Store for iOS and Android users. It has a simple interface, and the driver can enter their duty status with one click.
Samsara has an easy-to-use dashboard. It provides you complete visibility into different drivers’ logs and helps you plan roots and allocate jobs accordingly to avoid HoS violation. It also allows you to review drivers’ logs and suggest edits wherever needed.
The unassigned HoS report helps you clear drivers’ logbooks and assign unassigned driving time to the correct driver with a single click.
One of the unique features of Samsara is that it automatically switches rulesets based on the location. So you can stay in compliance with the interstate and intrastate rulesets.
My20 ELD is a secure, reliable, and safe ELD that allows you to streamline aspects of your operation. And thereby increase your earnings and productivity. It is 100% FMCSA-registered and hence helps you comply with prevailing rules.
The device collects the HoS data and stores it secularly within the hardware device. The driver can share it with the inspection team whenever via Bluetooth. Additionally, the back office can access the data for verification or other purposes with the easy-to-use tower dashboard.
Another notable feature of My20 ELD is that it provides voice navigation. It avoids driver distraction and helps them to focus on the road. The solution is backed by excellent customer service. So you can reach the team to resolve your queries.
Gorilla Safety ELD is a simple and affordable solution that helps you stay in compliance with the FMCSA rules. It automates the HoS logs process and saves you considerable time for other necessary purposes.
You can install the device in less than 1 minute, as it is based on a plug-in-play system. It is also simple to use, so you or your driver can access its features without any difficulty. It also saves time for your drivers or learning how to use a new complicated device.
Some of the notable features of the device are document management, eDVIR, mechanic inspection, alerts, and accident investigation.
- The cloud storage collects and stores policy and procedure manuals, inspection records, maintenance records, and other reports in one place.
- With electronic DVIR, the driver can instantly notify you if there is a problem in the vehicle and it needs emergency repairs.
- The device also sends you real-time alerts to catch up on anything you might forget.
- With Gorilla Safety App, the driver can record the other person’s statement, pictures, and additional information on the accident side for future investigation.
Verizon is all in one ELD solution that helps you comply with DoT rules. And optimize productivity with an integrated fleet management system.
The driver can easily log in their working status in the mobile application and start driving to stay in compliance. The mobile application is compatible with different devices such as smartphones, tablets, etc.
The status will update automatically as the vehicle moves, stops, or idles. It can help you monitor driving behavior, reduce idling time, save fuel consumption, and improve customer service.
The back office can easily access the relevant ELD data on the web portal to avoid violations, unassigned driving hours, and forecast repairs and maintenance.
The other highlighting features of Verizon connect ELD are:-
- 24/7 customer support
- Easy installation
- 99.9% system uptime, global access, and high data integrity.
As an owner-operator, you are responsible for all activities in your business. A perfect ELD can not only help you to stay in compliance with the FMCSA rules but also provide several other benefits such as document management, vehicle maintenance, IFTA report, eDVIR, etc.
If you have any doubts or tips to share with other owner-operators, drop a comment below.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What features should I look for in an ELD?
A: Some essential features to consider when choosing an ELD are ease of use, compliance with FMCSA regulations, real-time tracking and monitoring, vehicle diagnostics, and driver coaching.
Q: Can I use a smartphone or tablet as an ELD?
A: Yes, some ELD providers offer a smartphone or tablet app that can be used as an ELD. However, it’s important to ensure that the app is FMCSA compliant and that the device meets the ELD technical specifications.
Q: Are there any additional benefits to using an ELD?
A: Yes, besides helping owner-operators comply with HOS rules, ELDs can also help increase efficiency, reduce paperwork, improve safety, and reduce the risk of violations and fines.
Q: Is there a specific ELD that is best for leased owner-operators?
A: The best ELD for a leased owner-operator may vary depending on the lease agreement and the carrier’s requirements. However, it’s important to choose an ELD that is flexible and can be used with multiple carriers.
Q: Can I transfer my ELD data to another device or provider?
A: Yes, ELD providers are required to offer a way to transfer data to another ELD device or provider. However, it’s important to ensure that the new device or provider is FMCSA compliant and that the transfer process is done correctly to avoid data loss.
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.
Connect with him on LinkedIn and Twitter.