I Just Started Using an ELD – Here Are the Pros and Cons so Far
Chad Boblett is the owner and driver of Boblett Brothers Trucking of Lexington, KY. Chad also founded the Rate Per Mile Masters group on Facebook, a communications hub for more than 13,000 members, including owner-operators, truck drivers, and other transportation and logistics pros.
I am now ready for ELD mandate on Dec. 18. I’ve had an electronic logging device for a while, but I hadn’t plugged it in yet, mostly because I didn’t want to start paying for the service. I decided to “go live” with it in the truck last week for a few reasons.
My biggest worry is what will happen if everyone waits until December to get their ELD. If everyone waits until the last minute, then the majority of carriers will still be adjusting to electronic logbooks. Dec. 18 will just be another day for me — hopefully with higher spot market rates because other truckers are adjusting to the new technology.
I also want to share my experience using the plugged-in ELD since there’s so much fear and animosity towards this change. I understand because those of us who run the spot market are some of the last ones left in this industry to make the change.
The ELD I went with was KeepTruckin, so my experience is based on their product. The product you decide to use will need to be similar in order to be FMCSA-compliant.
Getting started was simple — I just connect the supplied cable to the diagnostic connector under the dash, and then to the ELD. Next, I used Bluetooth to connect my phone to the ELD. Once the ELD gives a green light, you are ready to go. All that takes just a few minutes. Filling out the electronic logbook on your phone is the same as with paper logs.
Set it and forget it. Right away, you get the feeling that everything is automated. The ELD always knows your location, and it automatically puts that into the logs where it is needed. When you start driving, you don’t have to worry about your log any more, because it already knows you are moving and will put you on the drive line.
You will probably want to use two logbook rules that you may not have utilized in the past. One is “on duty yard move,” and the other is “personal conveyance.” You can edit all the lines in your logbook except the drive line, but you can use these two rules to save and protect your drive time when it is permitted.
Personal conveyance interpretation: A driver may not operate a laden commercial motor vehicle as a personal conveyance. That means your trailer has to be empty, or you’re bobtailing. The company has to relieve the driver of his duty, so in most cases this would be once the load is delivered or trailer dropped, with signatures on paperwork by the receiver. Reminder: ALL miles must be accounted for and reported on the IFTA report whether loaded, empty, or personal.
As soon as you start driving, the countdown starts. From the very beginning of the day, you are reminded that once you are out of time, that’s it. No flexibility. This is a result of the ELD rule itself, not KeepTruckin’s ELD.
I have made this same trip many times and know that I have the time to make it happen, but what if something happens like a traffic jam? I normally like to take it easy going down the road and try to avoid getting in the hammer lane unless I need to, but getting the job done as fast as I can — driving the speed limit, of course — caused me to lose 3 to 4 tenths of a mile per gallon.
Also, the 30-minute break is now really a 30-minute break. Using the words “close enough” and taking off does not work anymore. Again, this con is with the HOS rules themselves and not the KeepTruckin product.
I think most of us would prefer not to be bothered with this micromanagement from our government, but with only three months to go, procrastinating could create an unnecessary burden. Start now and promote to your customers and the brokers you work with that Dec. 18 will just be another day for you.
Thanks for reading, and I will write more about my experience with the ELD.
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