So we’ve heard a lot about things going wrong with ELDs this week. Lots of crashes and system overloads, confusion and consternation. It’s been a rough week for some, but just like Dr. Phil says, “There’s always another side to the pancake, no matter how thin it is.”
Before we go any further, I think it’s important to clear up a misconception. I think I may have misled some to believe our opposition to the recent ELD mandate means George hates ELDs and refuses to use them. And that’s not true. George worked for US Xpress when they made the initial changeover – and that was almost a decade ago. He’s used one on and off since then, and as far as a tool, he thinks an ELD is a pretty handy little device.
He does not, however, believe it is in any way a safety device, and neither do I, which is why we both vehemently opposed a law that says it is. We also feel like it’s asinine to ask the more than 85 percent of the people being forced to use it as a safety device to achieve a higher level of safety than exemplary. You can’t make people who are already as safe as the standard allows any safer. It’s impossible, Mr. Spock. Logic does not allow this to happen.
Pair these concerns with the often uttered and completely true phrase “It’s not the ELD, it’s the HOS,” and there you have the George Parker synopsis on ELDs. If he has to use one to lawfully continue to run his truck and our business, then it’s what he’ll do.
Moving forward. Let’s talk about folks who aren’t having problems.
Back in August, at MATS, Bill Weaver introduced us to a super-nice young man he seemed to be really impressed with. Truth be told, we were in a hurry (trying to get Bill Weaver and George Parker from place to place on time at a truck show is like herding cats, just saying). Anyway, we stopped to meet Bailey Hawn and his boss, Joan Severson, of Drive Inc., and it ended up being Bill and George who had to drag me away from the booth.
I understood immediately why Bill was impressed. These folks have all their Cheerios securely in a snack bag, and are ready to go with this ELD business. And guess what? They didn’t have any notable problems on ELD-day. I’m not surprised.
On-site developers give them the ability to immediately address any irregularity. The biggest hold-up people had with DriveELD this week wasn’t software-oriented, it was with potential clients not knowing they need two separate e-mail addresses to sign up. This isn’t a DriveELD thing, it’s an FMCSA thing and it has to do with security.
The owners and founders have backgrounds in telematics, medical software and law. Medical software is extremely specific stuff, a high level of confidence in their abilities to encrypt and maintain security comes with knowing they have this background. Also, having a lawyer on board to navigate, translate and make sure their system is in compliance with all the FMCSA mumbo-jumbo gives yet another boost of consumer confidence in the product.
It also helps that it’s cheap. It’s a $99 annual subscription (some trucks may need a plug adapter — it’s $25), which might be the cheapest on the market for those that have subscription fees. I would actually encourage anyone who is still shopping around to do so liberally – just because I’m impressed with this one doesn’t mean it’s the best one for you. Knowledge is power – I can’t stress that enough with the ELD. Learn as much as you can about the system you’re purchasing.
Here’s something of note about DriveELD, and something you want to ask about any system you’re considering – the owners of DriveELD believe the personal information you generate belongs to you and you alone, and they will not give it to anyone else or allow data to be generated from it. If you’re concerned with privacy, it’s an important question to ask – make sure you don’t agree to a reduced fee for the use of your information somewhere in the fine print.
Don’t panic-buy an ELD. If you need one and don’t have one, it’s time to get one. Ask questions, make sure of the agreements you’re signing and, above all, remain lawful to the best of your ability.