An App Explosion

Todd Dills | November 01, 2011
Trucking social media The Trucker app (99 cents, iPhone) from AsktheTrucker.com and the Truth About Trucking organization, aggregates trucking news, information and resources.

The remainder of the smartphone-functional logging apps are computer-assisted logs, allowed for in the hours regulations but with the condition that the programs are able to be retrieved and printed or emailed/faxed for view on request of law enforcement. Operators using the applications are still under the record-keeping requirements of the paper log regulations.

For ease of record-keeping, though, owner-operator Dunkelberger says Mobile Warrior’s iDDL app (iPhone), also functional for inspection reports, has replaced his paper logs. The program affords him, for the $9.95 a month he spends for online storage of his log and inspection-report history, not only the simplicity of push-button logging but also a significant boost in record-keeping ease. When his carrier was audited by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration late last year, he says, “safety told me we’d need to provide logs going three months back.” Getting to the data was simply logging into his account and sending an email.

The iLogMiles app (iPhone), similarly, will “generate a PDF template for your daily logbook” which you can print and sign to store.

The maker of the uDrove app (Android, Blackberry, iPhone) for logs, inspection reports and other record-keeping functions is building the uDrove Gateway system to be a full-function EOBR. The device will provide wireless communication between a “black box” connected to the ECM and the operator’s smartphone. As with the Xata Turnpike EOBR, uDrove’s will be managed directly from the operator’s smartphone. In addition to logs, critical equipment information will be accessible in real time to identify cost-reduction opportunities, track performance, and more. The EOBR will be available later this year or early next, the company says. For now, the app is free, but a web storage account for $25 monthly completes the package.

Other tools for business, safety

Business tools range from reference guides to trucking-specific calculators and document-management systems. Among the first was the HazRef 2008 app (iPhone), a guide to more than 3,000 hazardous materials as identified by the United States Code of Federal Regulations. An Acme Truck Lines hauler called this app the “hazmat bible for truckers. It has everything the [hazardous material regulations] book carries, plus more.”

Speed traps and cameras The Trapster app (most platforms) allows users to report speed traps and traffic surveillance to crowd-source useful data. The free app indexes the information, which law enforcement officials claim is a deterrent effect on drunk drivers. The app has more than 11 million users worldwide.

Similarly, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s Winter Chain Laws app (Android, Blackberry; download via the apps page on http://www.ooida.com) is a comprehensive reference for chain permissions/prohibitions by state.

OOIDA also offers Android and Blackberry users its Fuel Surcharge Calculator app, which like the PocketFuelCal app ($1.99, iPhone, download via http://www.truckingadvantage.com/fuel-surcharges) developed by SWW freight broker Zach Womack, can calculate fuel surcharges in lump or per mile. Both are useful whether you’re trying to determine what you should charge a shipper or double-check your carrier’s surcharge payment.

For leased or company drivers, the TripPak Mobile app (Android, iPhone) updates trip status, confirms pick-up and delivery with signature capture and captures trip documents for submission via smartphone. Preview at http://trippak.com/mobile.asp.

Similarly, the Drive Axle app (Android, iPhone) and service from Eleos Technologies utilizes the camera functions of smartphones to scan, store and send trip documents to anyone with an email address. It’s aimed directly at independent owner-operators, however. Participation in a fleet’s program is not a prerequisite to use. A cloud-based storage account at $29 monthly completes the package. As of Oct. 1, Drive Axle is offering a 30-day free trial.

For independents looking for value-added services to brokers, shippers and consignees, the See It Ship app (Android, iPhone) makes increased load visibility free, using the GPS functionality of the smartphone. Check out the app’s website at www.seeitship.com, which receivers/shippers can use for tracking your arrival simply by entering the tracking number you provide from within the app.

On the safety side, apps to manage incoming texts have proliferated with nationwide attention to texting distraction. Many are aimed at parents concerned about their young drivers’ behavior, but some could be of use to truck drivers to manage the annoyance of a buzzing or beeping phone.

The DriveReply app ($4.95, Android, Blackberry, iPhone, Windows Mobile), available in both English and Spanish versions, triggers your phone to send auto replies to texts and/or phone calls when your speed is greater than 10-15 mph. Replies can be personalized and/or disabled if a direct reply is necessary. The app also includes emergency features enabling certain users to get through to the driver anytime, and its passenger-selection option lets a passenger access the phone while in motion.

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