Overdrive Extra

Max Heine

E-logging: What’s trackable is going to get tracked

| April 08, 2014

During last month’s annual meeting of the Truckload Carriers Association, about 100 companies exhibited their wares – mostly of the soft, not hard, kind. They hawked software that tracks equipment, analyzes data and does other impressive feats, all in the name of helping fleets make more money.

That’s why, even if we lived in an alternate universe where hours of service did not exist, fleets eventually would monitor drivers’ locations and hours. Not just because it’s doable, but because it’s data that could improve efficiencies.

The electronic logging mandate could take effect in the second half of 2016.
The electronic logging mandate could take effect in the second half of 2016.

So when it comes to the proposed electronic logging device mandate, we’re long past the point of inevitability. Had it not been for the holdup of the driver harassment issue four years ago, we’d be seeing implementation much sooner than what now looks like late 2016.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has made a reasonable attempt to mitigate potential harassment by adding eight provisions to deter it. There’s always some way to skirt protections, but it’s doubtful the holes are big enough for the rule to get delayed again for that reason.

As fleet after fleet has gone to electronic logging, the most common refrain from drivers is that it’s been a surprisingly welcome change. That’s because it really can protect drivers from coercion to violate hours.

Executives at TCA said it’s the smaller fleets, unwilling to abide by legal hours or unable to afford the new systems, that are most resistant. “If you’re running legal, there’s no legitimate objection,” said Tom Kretsinger, Jr., president of American Central Transport and immediate past chairman of TCA. “It’s just a cost.”

The opportunity for unscrupulous fleets to run illegally has always been more than a safety problem. Pushing drivers to run over hours has been one way for those fleets to steal business by under-bidding their rule-abiding competitors. Once the new rule blunts this edge, that could, ideally, make for slightly better rates once fleets don’t face competitors willing to run for artificially low rates.

I spoke with an owner-operator at the Mid-America Trucking Show who was amazed, having recently switched to Landstar Systems, that his net income is strong enough to relieve the pressure he’d felt to run almost constantly at a former fleet. And, by the way, that’s been while using e-logging, required of all new Landstar owner-operators.

It can take some getting used to for older drivers, but it’s no roadblock to earning good money. And with CSA hovering so closely, a tool that keeps you clean on hours can be quite helpful.

  • quickphil

    I cannot see the economic’s in this for small company’s ! But then that is why the Big company’s members of the ATA are pushing it to get rid of the smaller company’s and make what O/O are left to lease to them ! These ELBs computers cost 3 to 5 thousand dollars then you have to pay a monthly satellite fee to private company’s for them to monitor you ! This kind of expense to replace a 89 cent per month paper log !! Also where in the Constitution does it allow for the Government to force you to buy products from private company’s when their is no proven safety value to it

  • Jack Simon

    If the elogs get fouled up and won’t reboot, then you call your dispatcher and go on paper logs. That’s also in the law. If you don’t carry a paper logbook when you are on elogs, you will get a ticket. The paper logbook is a backup to the electronic junk.

  • Jack Simon

    the Feds already are talking about all of the lost revenue (taxes) they are getting cheated out of by having the electric cars and hybrids on the road. They aren’t paying their fair share of the road taxes. they are kicking around an idea to put a GPS log on their cars to register the miles and then they pay by the mile, not the gallon.

  • Mike Soper

    I laugh at this notion. So does the Iowa DOT officer that wrote me up for logging bob-tailing home 60 miles and logging it on duty not driving. At most he said he “might” allow 30 miles.

  • jan johnson

    Indenpendents are going to be exempt if you only have one truck. Fmcsa make special exemptions for ops like US. Rule #1 they can’t take your livelyhood. But consider this If a thief still your rig or trailor you need some form of tracking to find it. It’s getting bad out here protect yourself.

  • R. Mahon

    It is recorded as Off Duty and is permitted under the HOS regs. BTW, the regs states “unladen”, not “bobtail”, empty trailer is allowed.

  • R. Mahon

    Empty trailer is allowed for Off Duty Driving, Personal Conveyance. The rule states “Unladen”, it does not state “Bobtail”.

  • R. Mahon

    Yep, it does state “Short distances”. It does not define what a short distance is, though. So, that is up to the officer’s determination and discretion.

  • R. Mahon

    The HOS regs were originally written to protect the drivers from the carriers running them literally to death. Many carriers would still do that, if they could find a way.

  • R. Mahon

    I stop and take a nap, when needed and still complete my 11 hours driving, within the 14 hour clock. Simple math, 14 hour clock minus 11 hours driving leaves 3 hours to take a nap and do other things. My nap usually occurs during my required 30 minute break, so no extra time lost.

  • kojack

    I think the last paragraph is the one that bothers me the most. The E-logs ARE a roadblock to earning good money and having the CSA hovering closely is not a tool it is big brother looking over your shoulder constantly. It has worked for a lot of years, at least the 30 years I have been driving, but someone who has never been in the business knows more about how I do my business really makes sense.

  • James R Altman

    Your article above is BS. Say what you want. Drivers that do not use e logs are not cheaters and I for one do not run illegal.
    The only real reason this grap with recordes and tracking equipment on trucks is just plain and simple. YOU WANT TOTAL CONTROL. ..Last time I checked this is a free country. it’s also illegal to impede my ability to make a living. .
    Do us owner operators a favor. And Butt out of our lives. And get one of your own.

  • Mind Games

    You are wrong you can only drive 200 miles bobtail.

  • Wendell

    Write your Congressmen and Senator’s. Also follow up and continue writing. Don’t just write one letter and let that be the end. Flood their office with your thoughts and opinion’s.

  • cptdragn

    Incorrect, PC is logged as off duty. it does not add or take away from your hours unless you use it during a 14 hour shift.

  • calamityjanesk

    “Executives at TCA said it’s the smaller fleets, unwilling to abide by
    legal hours or unable to afford the new systems, that are most
    resistant. “If you’re running legal, there’s no legitimate objection,”
    said Tom Kretsinger, Jr., president of American Central Transport and
    immediate past chairman of TCA. “It’s just a cost.”

    This statement is WRONG!!! We OWN our truck and trailer, we run
    legal. It is our CHOICE not to run ELD’s. ELD’s will also cost
    annually (that includes data charges, etc) what we just paid for new steer tires. Sorry, we’re not corporate America that can just go spend that kind of money on a whim. As an independent business, don’t make the assumption there’s “no legitimate objection,” as there is: tired of FMCSA regs that have NO value! Show me a study where ELD’s make things safer out here…is an ELD going to keep drivers in their own lane, following at a safe distance??? And, we’ve used E-logs…they were broke so much, had more paper logs than electronic!

  • late freight

    I’ll put an ELD in my truck when all the people in DC wear a tracking device so the American people know all they do!!!!!!!