As if there wasn’t enough of the government breathing down your neck while you’re trying to make make money on the road. With the ELD mandate, law enforcement is tightening the clamp on truckers once again.
To comply with the electronic logging device (ELD) rule, some fleets are using ELD devices from different providers. If you can, stick with one. Don’t mix and match. You will be thankful in the long run as it will help uncomplicated the management of information.
With the new out-of-service criteria (OOSC) associated with the ELD mandate will going into effect on April 1, 2018. We bring you an exhaustive comparison of the best e logs for owner operators.
What is an e log device?
In its simplest form, an electronic logging device or e log, is used to electronically record a driver’s Record of Duty Status (RODS). It replaces the paper logbook some drivers currently use to record their compliance with Hours of Service (HOS) requirements.
When the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published in early 2014 its latest electronic logging device mandate proposal. It is estimated an annualized cost of compliance per truck of between $165 and $832.
As of March 15th, 2017, the ELD rule allows limited exceptions to the ELD mandate. The rule includes drivers who operate under the short-haul exceptions may continue using timecards. They are not required to keep Record of Duty Status (again, RODS) and will not be required to use ELDs.
The driver’s record of duty status, commonly known as the drive’s log, is the document used by the driver to record his/her time. Both the carrier and the driver must know what items are required on a driver’s duty status record.
What is the ELD Mandate?
Your trucking operation requires you keep a record of hours of service (HOS). You have already (or will) be replacing paper log sheets with the electronic logging device known as an ELD.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has issued an official electronic logging device (ELD) mandate. 516 pages of it. If these regulations apply to your fleet vehicles and drivers, you’ll need to comply with every provision in those pages if you want to avoid violations and fines.
Of course, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) congressionally mandated (ELD) compliance deadline was set for Dec. 18, 2017. The electronic logging device (ELD) rule – congressionally mandated as a part of MAP-21. According to the FMCSA, it is intended to help create a safer work environment for drivers, and make it easier and faster to accurately track, manage, and share records of duty status (RODS) data.
The devices discussed further below here are self-certified by the manufacturer. Keep in mind the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration does not endorse any electronic logging devices (which is probably why you’re here reading this to begin with).
The FMCSA’s ruling impacts how hours of service (HOS) are logged. That rule includes compliance and technical specifications that affect how drivers log their HOS.
When Do These ELD Regulations Go Into Effect?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s mandate for the use of electronic logging devices. ELD devices are designed for the majority of interstate truckers keeping records of duty status today included mention of a new approved devices. Those included will be those the FMCSA has verified conform to a raft of new technical specifications included in the mandate.
A federal rule to require truck operators to use electronic logging devices to keep records of duty status is slated to be published in the Federal Register. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration originally announced, the rule would take effect Dec. 16, 2017. The rule gave carriers and drivers a two-year window to comply with the rule’s requirements.
Keep in mind that those purchased before the rule’s December 2017 compliance date will be able to use existing Automatic Onboard Recording Devices (AORBDs). AOBRDs which conform to previous specs without updating to an ELD through Dec. 18, 2019. A comparison chart of AOBRDs (many will eventually be updated via over-the-air/Internet software mods to ELDs with few or no hardware updates, makers say) is available in our comparison chart, recently updated to include several providers not previously shown.
The rule also spells out safeguards against driver harassment via the devices. Certain hardware specifications of the devices and supporting documentation drivers must continue to keep after the mandate.
FMCSA says the rule will save the industry $1 billion a year, mostly in time and money saved on paperwork. The agency also said in a press release the rule will “save 26 lives and 562 injuries” a year.
What About Auditing ELD data?
There are already several managed service providers that have developed tech that audits hours-of-service (HOS) data. Some services are even capable of identifying falsification violations. Violations such as when drivers logging off duty while performing work-related functions like fueling and trailer hookups.
Some ELD compliance tech companies have created software that can cross check fuel purchases, payroll records and roadside inspection data to see if the HOS from the ELD “add-up”. Some companies are using this “monitoring” software to check for available drive time and exploring ways to expand information services. The goal according to them is to provide better driver behavior data (and CSA data) for insurance companies and risk managers.
What Hasn’t Changed?
The ELD rule doesn’t change current HOS standards regarding allowable driving and break times.
While the transition for managers and drivers may be perceived as painful, ELDs are a valuable tool for carriers. They can improve the safety and efficiency of your drivers.
Since enforcement of the HOS is generally handled by DOT officers of each state, and are sometimes checked when CMVs pass through weigh stations. Drivers previously found to be in violation of the HOS can be forced to stop driving for a certain period of time (which may negatively affect the motor carrier’s safety rating).
Now such requests to change the HOS are a source of contentious debate. Among fleet owners and independent operators and many online blogs, trucker forums and surveys indicate some drivers get away with routinely violating the HOS. That will change with the ELD requirements now. Some avoiding this new regulation won’t get away with it any longer.
These facts have started another debate on whether motor carriers should be required to use ELDs in their vehicles, instead of relying on paper-based log books. Many agriculture truckers have fought and delayed the ELD regulation changes for a year or two pending law review and revisions. If you’re into agricultural trucking, check with the DOT or the FMCSA’s ruling (or consult with an attorney familiar with trucking law changes) and see if this rule impacts you yet or not.
What About Hackers, Data Breaches? Do ELD Devices Offer Encryption?
Do they offer encryption? Well, they should, but we couldn’t find any that said they actually offered or utilized encryption. Many say although if a hacker really wanted to get in through an ELD, they wouldn’t (as of 2018) be able to do anything to the truck in operation, the information or control would be dubious at best.
Stay current on your ELD device, if there is room for improvement on your end, do your best to secure your data from at least peer to peer and as always your trucker’s private information. Always assume there could be a breach down the road, stay on your toes.
Should I Bank on Support? Yes.
Be sure the ELD you are investing in has a strong name behind it good support so it will be around and improving as the years to come. It would be a valuable waste of time, money and resources if the ELD product you invest in where to have an issue, error, anything that could cause you issues with your business, law enforcement and so forth.
If your ELD product has a support for a few dollars more to make sure things run smoother, then by all means, look into it. Think of better support as additional insurance just to keep things rolling.
Okay. How Do I Manage All This ELD and HOS Data?
Start off with an action plan. If you have a mechanical team for your fleet, make sure they are up to speed on the rules and regulations. Create a project management team to delegate who is in control of what, who is responsible for completing each task and how they will report what they’ve done and what they’re doing so a proper log of implementing ELDs is kept in case someone ever comes a knockin’.
Develop written policies and procedures for ELD use. Don’t get burned, make sure if something is awry, or not functioning, somebody down the chain or up the pipe is aware and it gets corrected. You don’t want ELD or HOS gaps in your traveling that will cause suspicion or random stops by law enforcement.
Determine how you will accommodate the inflow of ELD data. Consider the technology demands of downloading and achieving this data. Most ELD devices send (on average 20 megabytes per month for truck). Multiply that by the month, the year, the back-log of data you have to keep on file (a minimum of 6 months worth), then you have to consider information security issues like data encryption and backup.
If you haven’t begun this already or have missed a step already, get in there, get in handled, take care of it. You’ll sleep better at night.
Selecting an ELD
Don’t panic over cost over-runs and consider your realistic hardware requirements. If don’t have that much tech hardwired into your truck, a ELD jack or device that plugs in and sends data through a smartphone app can work really well.
Software options are widespread. Some manufactures can turn on the ELD through existing truck telematic devices with a firmware or software update. Check with your truck manufacturer (by a Google search or call your semi-truck dealership and play phone tag).
Which ever device you choose, ask the ELD provider about the capabilities for drivers to examine their data and how law enforcement officials will interact with the ELD and “securely” transfer data upon request. Again, your ELD vendor should provide an encryption method for data. Ask them, find out, if they don’t know, tell them to ask a supervisor and so forth.
If your company has been lax about HOS compliance before, take the time and retrain drivers on the HOS regulations. Start checking your old fashioned driver logs for accuracy and flaggable violations. This will help everyone prepare for the big switch to be flipped.
Some manufactures will allow 30-day run trials. Since April 1 is right around the corner it may be too late so, you might want to make sure your drivers are tech savvy enough to deal with the ELD. If they are not, time to get their training wheels rolling.
Remember, if it is smartphone/mobile device/cell phone based that they keep their phone charged or plugged in to a power source. Be aware that as a mobile phone is being used more, it generates heat. Not that you should worry but make sure your phone isn’t melting in the dash board in the summer months because someone left it out of the shade.
What about the ELD Minimum Standards?
ELDs that meet the minimum standards spelled out in the rule will not be required to track a vehicle or a driver in real-time. They also will not be required to include driver-carrier communication capabilities.
They must, however, be able to automatically record date, time and location information; engine hours; vehicle miles; and ID information of the driver using the device.
The ELD devices must sync with its corresponding vehicle’s engine to record engine on and off time.
The rule also requires compliant devices to be able to transfer data during roadside inspections “on-demand,” via either a wireless Web-based services, email, USB 2.0 or Bluetooth. The rule also stipulates that the ELDs “present a graph grid of a driver’s daily duty status changes either” on the units themselves or in printouts.
A similar ELD-mandate set for implementation in 2012 was tossed in court over its lack of protection against driver harassment. In accordance with that, FMCSA’s new rule makes it illegal for carriers to use the devices to harass drivers, puts in place fines for doing so and puts in place a system for drivers to report such instances.
Don’t Put the Cart Before the Horse. What is BYOD?
Sometimes it’s fun to horse around with words. Now back into the saddle, or the point. Maybe you’re reading this late at night. Perhaps you’re riding off trying to get things taken care of.
Be aware, buyer beware of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) deals.
Some ELD device manufactures have mixed messages about their devices versus their apps when they will try to convince you to get their app for a low subscription rate, lock you in for a quarterly agreement or an annual subscription, then once you’re locked in, “Oh, you need to still purchase our device. We were under the impression you already had one and just wanted to sign up to use it!” This is hypothetical of course but imagine the possibilities. You try to cancel then they stick you with an early cancellation fee and so forth. Be sure before you sign up, before you purchase it is for the ELD device and if the subscription comes with it.
Is it True? Most ELDs use Bluetooth?
Yes. Bluetooth is a wireless technology standard for exchanging data over short distances from fixed and mobile devices, and building personal area networks. Invented by telecom vendor Ericsson in 1994, it was originally conceived as a wireless alternative to RS-232 data cables.
Bluetooth has a max range of around 30 feet, don’t discount the effects of interference in the every day objects around you. If you’re using multiple Bluetooth devices, you might see some interference. Microwaves can cause interference, as can environmental factors such as metal, wood, concrete and water.
Hundreds. You can see the list for yourself here. https://csa.fmcsa.dot.gov/ELD/List If it makes you feel better, the five covered in this article are FMCSA approved.
According to the FMCSA, you must keep records for six months of both the ELD RODS data and a back-up copy of that data on a separate device. The carrier must ensure that these records are stored securely to protect driver privacy.
E-logs for owner operators and Return on Investment (ROI)
Using an ELD device (or truck tracker) will help calculate or weigh cost against the savings and increased productivity you can gain with different ELDs. Since you need an ELD to meet the HOS requirements, you’ll need software that integrates with software features such as vehicle monitoring, two-way communication, improved routing and much more.
Without further delay, here is our review in order of the top five ELD systems available on the market right now.
First Choice: Rand McNally Driver Connect
Their ELD uploads logs via Bluetooth® into the Rand McNally DriverConnect app (which requires a smartphone). The ELD will record and store up to 1 days’ worth of data (so if cell towers were done in a certain area, or your phone went missing, the ELDwould continue to work). Sound alerts will let you know when the ELD is at capacity and it’s time to sync with your device.
The ELDis the first E-Log device installs under the dash, allows drivers to use Android devices to view logs, and provides access to Hours of Service (HOS) and Driver Vehicle Inspection Report (DVIR) logs via the Rand McNally DriverConnect web portal.
Installs in minutes. Just plug into your diagnostic port and you’re ready to go, no other installation needed.
The ELD uploads logs via Bluetooth® into the Rand McNally DriverConnect app.
The ELD will record and store up to 1 days’ worth of data. Sound alerts will let you know when the ELD is at capacity and it’s time to sync with your device.
No extra hardware required—Simply download the Rand McNally DriverConnect app onto your TND™ Tablet or other Android™ device to:
Monitor truck diagnostics—The Rand McNally DriverConnect app provides bonus access to a gauges dashboard with information on 10 different diagnostics from your truck’s engine, including:
Service plan is required for ongoing access to the DriverConnect web portal.
Second Choice: Garmin eLog™ Compliant ELD
Garmin’s website, and their ELD product information was very on key and informative.
No subscription fees, they stand by you buy it, install it, right out of the box. However, they continually mention it doesn’t include any navigation system itself, you have to buy and connect that separately (as you have to with some other devices and systems).
They recommend dēzl™ GPS truck navigators including the dēzl™ 570 and dēzl™ 770. Garmin offers a free smartphone App that will integrate with the log into the ELD in the vehicle.
The Garmin ELD stand-alone device supports both 9-pin j1939 and 6-pin j1708 diagnostic ports. You plug in the ELD device, downloaded the free Garmin eLog™ app, connect them and you’re off and running.
Konexial MY20 ELD
Their website was very well organized, discussed and offered details on their different products. They have basic ELD systems that were sort of packaged together to make things easier. Not piece-mailed together like other products. They have a package for owner-operators called MY20 ELD, then they had another package for fleets called MY20 Tower.
They had specific add-ons such as GoLoad which searches for available loads in proximity of drivers to help them get more work, save time, make more money on their routes.
Then another program called GoFuel which helps owner and small fleets by getting them fuel discounts and rewards for every gallon purchased. Konexial bills all their products quarterly (at a minimum). Of course, if you want to sign up for a longer period of time, you’ll have to inquire with them and you may even save money.
The Stoneridge EZ-ELD is FMCSA-certified, giving you control of your compliance obligations. It can be transferred between any driver or vehicle with a 9-pin, 6-pin or OBDII OBD port.
Stroneridge EZ-ELD offers subscriptions for $15 a month, or you can buy an annual subscription for $150 and save $30. The subscription includes the Back Office software and Driver App. Each truck requires a device plus a subscription.
Our EZ-ELD can be transferred between any driver or vehicle in your fleet with a 9-pin, 6-pin or OBDII OBD port. Whether your vehicles are leased, owned or rented by the day, we ensure that you are compliant.
Their EZ-ELD package includes the hardware device for your truck and the software subscription (annual or monthly) to view your files via the App or Software. They say you’ll need one EZ-ELD package for each truck in your fleet. They insist both are easy to use and quick to set up.
With easy plug and play installation and a super simple app interface for drivers, EZ-ELD gives your fleet everything you need to comply. If you are not sure, they suggest checking out their Ready Reckoner. A tool which might also help compare EZ-ELD prices and features with other providers.
After many types, swipes and memory clears, their website made the app versus the ELD device difficult to ascertain. It is also difficult to find information about their product. Basically when you visit their web address above, it goes to the tracker overview as if you’re using the device.
It appears as if KeepTruckin pushes their app mostly assuming you’ve purchased the device already at a truck stop such as Pilot. After doing some more digging, it appears the device price is unknown, you have to get a quote then and only then can you know if it is what you want. The Keeptruckin App is hailed as being friendly across all platforms, iPhone, Andorid and tablets but there are warnings against using older technology. Be sure to research your mobile devices to be sure they are KeepTruckin App worthy.
According to KeepTruckin’s website, the KeepTruckin Electronic Logbook App allows drivers to record their Hours of Service on mobile devices (again, iPhone, Android and more modern tablets). When paired with the KeepTruckin ELD hardware device via Bluetooth or USB, driving time is automatically recorded in compliance with the ELD mandate.
Be sure your mobile device or tablet supports Bluetooth and be sure to test for interference, channels available. Certain combinations of frequencies (say with near by trucks at a truck stop parking lot) could but unlikely interfere with Bluetooth. Some older mobile devices too might have difficulty with nearby transmission interference (e.g. around 9 feet for Bluetooth).
Drivers who purchase the KeepTruckin ELD at Pilot locations will receive the ELD hardware device, a 9-pin and 6-pin cable, a DOT reference card, and instructional material.
How Easy it it to Install KeepTruckin’s ELD?
According to KeepTruckin company, getting started only takes a few minutes. You start by install the ELD by connecting the 9-pin or 6-pin cable to the vehicle’s diagnostic port, activating the ELD by visiting keeptruckin.com/activate on your browser, connect to the ELD from the KeepTruckin App via Bluetooth or USB.
ELD Manufacturer Comparison Chart
|Rand McNally DriverConnect ELD 50||KeepTruckin ELD||Konexial MY20 ELD||Garmin eLog™||Stoneridge EZ-ELD|
|Overall||⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆||⋆ ⋆ ⋆||⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆||⋆ ⋆ ⋆||⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆|
|Subscription Cost||✓||$16-$20 mo
|1st 3 mos. included
$45-$75 every 3 mos
|Records Data w/o connection||✓||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown|
|Ease of Use||Unknown||Unknown||Unknown||✓||✓|
|9-Pin, 6-Pin, OBDII||All||Unknown||Unknown||9-Pin, 6-Pin||All|
|iphone Android Compatible App||TND™ Tablet or other Android™||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|IFTA Fuel Tax Reporting||✓||Unknown||✓||Unknown||✓|
|Idle Time Tracking||✓||✓||✓||✓||✓|
|Navigation||✓||✓||✓||Needs Separate Nav System||✓|
|Maps||✓||✓||✓||Needs Separate Nav System||✓|