ELDs save drivers time in several ways. They help drivers avoid hours-of-service violations with automatic logging, and they allow them to spend less time on paperwork and roadside inspections.
Additionally, fleet managers can use the data from ELDs to improve operational efficiencies like IFTA fuel tax reporting and route planning. These improvements provide more benefits than federal compliance and can boost overall company profitability.
A quality ELD that incorporates systems allowing trucks to communicate with dispatchers and fleet managers offers much more than a tool for logging Hours of Service. For example, the ability to identify erratic driving behaviors like speeding, excessive acceleration, and hard braking allows trucking companies to train drivers in safer practices. This can also reduce the number of accidents and liabilities that would otherwise occur. The tamper-proof data recorded by a modern electronic logging device provides indisputable proof of driving violations that could be used in court. This is especially useful in cases where another driver files a complaint against a trucking company’s driver.
In addition to the benefits of reduced liability, a high-quality ELD may help a trucking company reduce fuel costs and increase vehicle uptime. This is because a robust system can help a trucking company improve fleet efficiency with a variety of features that go beyond HOS compliance, including engine fault reporting for proactive maintenance, automated IFTA fuel tax reporting, route planning tools, and digital receipt and invoice scanning.
By eliminating the need for paper logs and automating the compliance process, a robust ELD solution can save a trucking company time, money, and manpower that is normally spent on handling paperwork. This frees up the time for both drivers and office personnel to focus on more productive tasks.
Many trucking companies have been using ELDs for trucking for years; some are already reaping the benefits. However, most trucking companies will begin seeing the benefits of ELDs once the mandate takes effect in 2018. Purchasing a good quality ELD now can make it easier to meet the new requirements and avoid the potential of costly fines from the FMCSA.
The FMCSA estimates that ELDs will save $2.44 billion in administrative work and $1.88 billion from drivers’ time spent filling out paper logs. In addition, the use of an ELD will reduce roadside inspections by streamlining the process and removing the need for drivers to manually complete logs during the inspection. This will also free up time for both drivers and inspectors to spend more time on the road.
ELDs allow drivers to focus on the job at hand to be more productive. With less time spent filling out paperwork or figuring out how long they have been driving, truckers can drive more hours each pay period and earn more money for their services. Additionally, the ability to eliminate human error in calculating driving hours can lead to higher fuel efficiency and reduced vehicle maintenance costs.
Drivers can also benefit from the ability to communicate with dispatchers and fleet managers using an ELD’s telematics features, such as two-way communication and automated check-calls. This saves them time and fuel when checking in or out of delivery, and it ensures that everyone involved knows the driver is status throughout the day. Dispatchers can then support drivers with dock delays and issue advance notice to customers to avoid late deliveries.
For the trucking company, an ELD can help expedite roadside inspections by standardizing Hours of Service data and eliminating recording errors, reducing compliance reviews and audits, and allowing drivers to get back on the road faster. In addition, ELDs can be used to monitor and improve safety by tracking the location of trucks, identifying driver behavior issues, and alerting drivers to possible fatigued driving.
ELDs can even be used to track fuel consumption and other operating costs, providing fleet managers with insights they can use to save on overhead and increase profitability. For example, an ELD can identify inefficiencies like congestion and long wait times at loading or unloading points that can be addressed with improved routing and scheduling. This can also help reduce fuel costs by improving mileage and avoiding unnecessary engine idling.
In addition to lowering the risk of a costly federal inspection, an ELD can help reduce out-of-service penalties from state inspectors. With the right software, an ELD can also provide drivers with timely alerts of risky behaviors such as speeding and hard braking that can be used to target training and create a safer culture. This can help reduce the cost of insurance for commercial truck drivers and lower rates for fleet owners.
Reduced Administrative Work
Whether or not you favor ELDs, everyone agrees they help optimize fleet operations. They reduce administrative work for dispatchers and back-office personnel, making meeting customer needs easier while ensuring federal compliance. This can immensely benefit trucking companies coping with tight margins and a difficult hiring market.
By standardizing hours-of-service data, ELDs eliminate errors and automate processes, saving time in the field. Dispatchers can quickly run reports on driver logs, HOS violations, DVIRs, and unassigned miles, enabling them to quickly pinpoint issues and make the right decisions for their trucks and drivers.
Many ELDs also offer advanced features that improve fleet efficiency. For example, some provide audio and visual notifications when a driver’s 11-hour driving day is approaching, reducing the chances of an overtime violation. Similarly, an in-cab driver coaching feature, which alerts drivers to hard-turning maneuvers and other risky driving behaviors, helps prevent accidents while also improving fuel economy.
A good ELD will also relay real-time GPS tracking information to the fleet’s dispatch center. This allows dispatchers to assign delivery routes based on location and to communicate with drivers in real time. In addition, the ability to connect to a vehicle’s onboard diagnostics port, which offers engine data like fault codes, simplifies maintenance and repairs for fleet managers.
In addition, the best ELDs integrate with major TMS solutions to simplify fleet management. This reduces the need for dispatchers to manually call drivers for check-ins or re-enter data after a trip is complete. This saves time and money for both fleet managers and drivers.
Moreover, when an ELD is part of a larger telematics solution that includes route optimization, idling-time monitoring, vehicle fault-code tracking, and automated IFTA fuel tax reporting, it can provide additional business opportunities for trucking companies looking to increase productivity and explore new markets. This can include expanding into local deliveries and reducing idle times for customers who need trucks on demand. ELDs can enable trucking companies to weather the economic storm and continue growing by streamlining fleet operations, boosting productivity, and enhancing safety.
With less time spent on paperwork and administration, fleets have more time to move freight. This means fewer truck stops and less downtime for repairs, which in turn results in higher profits for trucking companies. Moreover, an ELD with engine diagnostics can prevent the expensive repair costs associated with common mechanical issues like worn-out transmissions.
Using an ELD also helps drivers meet federal requirements by reducing instances of drowsy driving. Drivers can easily check their available hours of service and receive audio and visual notifications when they’re close to running out, which allows them to take mandated breaks in advance.
The best ELDs can also help trucking companies save on fuel costs. Fleet managers can monitor driver behavior with telematics solutions, including dashcams and real-time driver coaching, designed to encourage safe driving habits. They can also use the data to optimize routes and reduce fuel usage by up to 12%.
Another benefit of an ELD is that it can improve compliance with other rules and regulations, including IFTA and vehicle inspection reports. By standardizing Hours of Service data and automating the compliance process, expediting inspections and getting drivers back on the road faster is easier.
In the case of an accident, an ELD’s tamper-proof evidence and testimony can be used to reconstruct the incident and help determine liability. As such, a good ELD can significantly reduce the time and expense of trucking company litigation.
Even though some truckers may feel that the ELD mandate, and real-time tracking through GPS technology in general, are invasive or violate privacy, these devices can help improve safety records, which can lead to lower liabilities and better insurance rates. Additionally, by identifying the worst drivers, fleets can put them through further training or re-assignment, which can improve driver retention rates. Ultimately, an ELD can be a significant asset to trucking companies that strive for success in the current rocky economy.