Why Electronic Logging Devices are Important for Truckers and the Trucking Industry

The trucking industry is always under pressure. Truckers regularly drive for longer than 10 hours at a stretch without stopping for a break.

Back in 2017, it became necessary for trucking companies and any businesses operating a fleet to move from paper activity logs to digital ones via the Automatic Onboard Recording Device system. Come this December, a new deadline approaches to upgrade to an Electronic Logging Device (ELD), which is a new mandate for truckers and companies to follow.

Let’s look at what electronic monitoring is for and why it matters.

What Is an ELD?

The electronic logging device fits inside the cab of the truck and connects to its various systems to monitor usage.

The idea is to log activity such as driving and driver breaks, without the need to complete paper records. It also can act as a way to confirm that drivers are staying safe on the roads by ensuring they take necessary breaks from driving and don’t drive for too long each day.  

How is An Electronic Logging Device Used by Drivers?

An ELD device is connected to the engine and passes sensor information back to the device’s display console.

The driver is able to log into the device when their shift starts and they’re really to set off on their assigned route. Once logged in, they may set the type of activity (On-duty but not driving, On-duty or Off-duty).

The display provides information to the driver about what hours they have driven for that day and other useful points of note. This is known as the Record of Duty Status.

ELDs must be approved devices with the right certification(s). This includes being able to access online services, connect to the internet via Bluetooth or via a USB port.

How Are Drivers Affected by the New Requirements?

There is an hours of service law that makes use of ELD data to confirm compliance.

The HOS law stimulates that a trucker is allowed to drive for 11 hours within a 14-hour period while they’re on duty. After that, it’s necessary for them to have at least 10 continuous hours off-duty.

Within the 14-hour on-duty period, it’s also necessary for a trucker to have a 30-minute break too. This aspect is under review and may change in the future.

How the Changes Affect the Trucking Industry

While the mandates and new law are intended to avoid truckers getting overly tired (2016 saw over 4,000 fatal collisions involving trucks), there are some knock-on effects for business too.

As a result of the changes, trips that once took a day now often require an overnight stay and traveling onto the destination on the second day. Similarly, two-day journeys may now require three days.

For businesses, the lengthier journeys and necessary parking and overnight stays for truckers have increased the costs for the trucking industry. Costs per mile spiked in the industry when companies started switching to electronic records and have never settled back to the previous levels.

The necessity of safety-related changes within the trucking industry including mandated break periods and maximum on-duty periods ensures our roads will be safer. The adjustment period is still ongoing but companies with fleets will need to be completely switched over to ELD by early December 2019 to stay in compliance.