What is an ELD?
What is an ELD?

Because the SCCCA (Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals) upheld the ELD mandate published by the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration), the deadline for everyone to be ELD compliant remains unchanged.

For truckers who aren’t exempted, they need to have DOT-certified ELDs installed in their trucks no later than December 18, 2017. For those who installed AOBRDs before the compliance date, they have until December 16, 2019 to be ELD compliant.

With all the news and updates available about the ELD mandate, it pays for everyone in the trucking industry to have a solid understanding of what ELD are and they work. The better everyone understands it, the easier they can transition from using their old systems and processes into becoming an ELD compliant company.

Definition of ELD

ELDs (or Electronic Logging Devices) are electronic devices certified by the DOT (Department of Transportation). The device is connected to a truck’s engine to track its driving time automatically and accurately.

ELDs are meant to prevent drivers from violating HOS (Hours of Service) regulations and keep them from driving while fatigued. Through ELDs, public roads and highways are bound to become a safer place for motorists.

ELDs transmit data to fleet managers to give them real-time status of what’s happening to the vehicle. Through a fleet manager dashboard, they can tell where their vehicles are, what the driver’s status is, if the driver is adhering to his/her schedule, or if the driver is nearing an HOS violation.

How did ELDs came to be?

While the use of e-logs have been around for quite some time, some truckers have been using it since 1980s. However, it wasn’t until 2012 when the term ELD was introduced.

The former President Barack Obama signed into law the MAP-21 Act (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century) on July 6, 2012. The MAP-21 called for the Secretary of Transportation to create a rule mandating the use of ELDs on commercial motor vehicles. This was when the term ELD was established.

Why is it important?

ELDs are important for a lot of reasons. To begin with, there are truckloads of benefits that truckers can get from using them. On a different note, however, it is important because a new regulation has been passed where commercial motor vehicles are meant to be ELD compliant. The regulation is known as the ELD mandate.

What are the benefits of using ELDs?

Less clerical work

Without ELDs, truck drivers would have to record their RODS manually. Not only that, fleet managers would also have to contend with the burden of calculating their state miles so they can sort out their IFTA fuel tax reporting. These tasks can easily translate to hours of clerical work depending on the number of trucks your fleet has.

With ELDs, however, the device will automatically track the driver’s RODS since it is connected directly to their truck’s engine. As for IFTA fuel tax reporting, fleet managers can generate the report in seconds by simply clicking a couple of times in their web dashboard.

Optimized fuel consumption

There are several ways an ELD can help a trucking company reduce their fuel cost. Firstly, fleet managers can tell which truck has exceeded reasonable levels of idle times through ELDs. They can then send drivers proper feedback so they can correct their driving habits.

Determining a truck’s idle time is crucial because it can contribute to fuel wastage. According to some estimates, an hour of idle time can translate to about a gallon of wasted fuel. When you start crunching numbers while thinking about the number of trucks your fleet has and how much idle team each truck has, you’ll be amazed at how these numbers can quickly skyrocket.

Secondly, you can also use ELDs to help you with your truck maintenance. It is common knowledge how trucks that are well-maintained are often more fuel efficient.

That being said, when you have ELDs installed, not only will you experience lesser truck breakdowns, but the efficiency of your fuel consumption will end up improving.

Increased route efficiency

Fleet managers and truck drivers are able to conduct better route planning through ELD’s GPS feature.

Because of the ELD’s route and mapping solutions, truck drivers can avoid high-traffic areas or roads that are under construction. Not only that, they can find the shortest route that the truck drivers can take to reach their destination.

Fewer violations

In January of last year, over $1,000,000 worth of HOS violation fines have been issued. The figure is a dead giveaway of how common and serious of a threat HOS violations are to truckers as well as trucking companies.

Some of these violations don’t always happen due to drivers actually violating their HOS limits; they just forget to log or update their hours properly. As a result, they end up getting fined unnecessarily.

With the use of ELDs, however, the instances of drivers getting penalties drastically reduces. Not only will ELDs notify them if they’re approaching HOS violations, but the logs/reports are generated automatically as well.

Better CSA scores

It goes without saying that a company’s CSA scores will end up improving because they can avoid several violations. While avoiding HOS violations is an obvious result to having ELDs installed in trucks, some of the other violations that can be avoided are the Form & Manner violation, Not Current Violations, and maintenance related violations like broken lights or brakes.

More customers

More and more shippers are looking into a carrier’s CSA score before deciding to work with them or not.

When a trucking company has a good CSA score, it is akin to telling the shippers that they employ outstanding business practices. Otherwise, they would not have been able to get a favorable CSA score.

Better driver productivity

Because truck drivers won’t have to hassle themselves with filling out paper logs and making sure that their records are up-to-date, they end up becoming more productive. They can focus on the most important part of their work which is driving.

Also, since dispatchers can see the vehicle’s location in real-time, they won’t have to make phone calls to drivers asking for their location or their estimated time of arrival — they can see everything through their fleet management dashboard.

How much does an ELD cost?

One of the factors that keep truckers reluctant from using ELDs is the misconception that acquiring and using the device is costly. This may have been true in the past, but such isn’t the case today.

The price range that ELD providers charge vary. Some would charge over $5000 during the first year for a three-year contract, while others charge as little as $240 per year with no lock-in periods whatsoever — all while still providing amazing service.

That being said, you need to give due diligence when deciding which ELD provider to work with. Remember that you don’t always have to spend truckloads of cash to have an ELD installed in your trucks. There are better and more affordable options in the market.

Use our free ELD price comparison chart to make better business decisions.

Pointers for choosing your ELD provider.

1. FMCSA compliance

On a foundational level, you need to make sure that the ELD provider is compliant with FMCSA’s requirements. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself still getting fined even though you have ELDs installed in your trucks.

In short, if you are buying ELDs, make sure those ELDs are FMCSA-certified. Check out our ELD features comparison tool to see which of the current major ELD providers are actually FMCSA-certified.

2. How much will their ELDs cost over the years? Upfront vs. Long-term cost.

Be sure to review the ELD provider’s offers carefully. When you’re choosing an ELD provider, think long-term. The chances of the ELD mandate getting cancelled or rescinded is highly unlikely — it isn’t going to disappear anytime soon.

That being said, in some cases, it might be more strategic for you to go for an ELD provider that’s slightly more expensive than the others during the first years, if you’ll end up saving more 4 – 5 years down the line because of how their pricing packages are setup.

3. Does the provider operate in Alaska, the oil fields or Canada?

The FMCSA regulations in the US is different to the ones in the oil fields, Canada or Alaska. You need to make sure that your ELD provider can guarantee that you remain compliant when your trucks are in these places.

4. The provider’s years of experience in the trucking industry.

Anyone who’s been following the trucking industry closely for years are aware of how FMCSA’s rules are continuously changing. In fact, one can even argue that the chances of the FMCSA making amendments to the existing ELD regulations in the future is highly likely. You need to choose an ELD provider who knows what they’re doing. One that can keep up with the trucking industry’s ever changing landscape.

5. Features

At the end of the day, ELDs installed in the trucks needs to be able to provide value to the trucking company.

“Value” can be in the form of driver productivity, better fuel efficiency, or better ROI (among other things). If your ELDs are lacking in features, then it’d be best for companies to find another provider.

6. Quality support

In a perfect world, you’ll never have downtimes or problems when using your ELDs. However, reality just doesn’t work that way.

There are going to be instances when you’ll experience problems while using your ELDs. It could be configuration problems, perhaps the hardware is damaged, or there are features that you’d looking to try but aren’t sure how to do it.

In cases like these, your ELD provider needs to be able to give you quality support without delay. Considering how huge of an impact a faulty or broken ELD is to your trucking operations, you need to get immediate and top-notch support from your ELD provider.