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Guide to Buying the Best ELD in 2021

Years before the publishing of the electronic logging device (ELD) final rule in 2015 (also known as the ELD mandate), U.S. software companies were already developing and marketing high-tech solutions to hours-of-service (HOS) tracking and logging. Today, hundreds of ELD providers promise the best solution for the federal mandate that requires an electronic logging device in almost every truck and trailer. 

Along with compliance, ELD manufacturers/marketers offer various features, plans, systems and pricing structures. Some of these features may be new to you. As a result, it can be challenging to choose the best solution for your fleet. However, there are some definite ways to narrow down the field to find the best ELD for your fleet. 

What separates a good ELD from the rest?   

Not many years ago, most drivers logged their HOS in paper logs that were to be kept up-to-date and available for inspection. Today, the ELD mandate requires all non-exempt commercial drivers and motor carriers to have an ELD on board, which automatically records the driver’s on-duty and off-duty hours of service.

An ELD does its job by tracking a truck engine’s activity and gathering data relevant to the vehicle’s movement. In addition, the add-on technology can provide much more than the information required by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, or FMCSA, ELD rule. Many providers offer ELD platforms with:

  • GPS tracking
  • Communication and messaging within the fleet
  • Turn-by-turn directions
  • Driver identification
  • Accident reconstructions

All the extra goodies, varying plans, different capacity levels, and reseller involvement can lead you to one initial conclusion. The best ELD for you depends on your fleet’s specific needs. However, some universal requirements should be part of any ELD decision that you make.

Make sure your ELD is compliant

Without compromise, the ELD you choose must be registered and self-certified through the FMCSA. Self-certification means providers must certify their device satisfies all technical requirements in the ELD rule. 

As the driver or motor carrier, the FMCSA holds you responsible to ensure that your ELD equipment complies with the ELD mandate. A violation of this rule would trigger an eight-hour out-of-service penalty. Plus, the violation would harm your safety measurement score and possibly lead to an investigation by the FMCSA.  You can avoid any fines or punishment by checking the FMCSA website to see whether an ELD is on the list of registered ELDs

Don’t forget safety

Roadside inspections can result in costly penalties for safety violations. Plus, your safety measurement score affects your ability to:

  • Obtain good insurance 
  • Find loads
  • Secure contracts
  • Attract talented employees

Look for ELDs with maintenance alerts and driver vehicle inspection reports. Some ELDs have built-in gyroscopes and accelerometers that can detect hard braking, dangerous steering and possible collisions. 

Fleet management features

Regardless of the size and type of your fleet, efficient routing and dispatching save time and money. The best ELDs for this function have built-in GPS trackers that provide real-time location data. Every day, you can operate with a tremendous advantage by being able to pinpoint the exact location of your vehicles. 

Security is essential for your ELD

The best ELD for your fleet would not be complete without security and loss prevention software. Some providers include a geofencing feature that allows you to create a virtual territory in any location. With your security zones in place, you can use real-time GPS tracking to alert you when one of your vehicles leaves the geofenced zone. This capability can help you detect possible theft or unauthorized activity.

A good ELD offers a reliable dashcam solution

On a consensus basis, KeepTruckin offers one of the highest-rated ELDs on the market, and one of the main anchors to this provider’s system is its smart dashboard camera solution. Smart dashcams bring artificial intelligence analysis to every feature. Smart dashcams improve:

  • FMCSA ELD compliance
  • Evidence for accident reports and insurance issues
  • Protection of assets and security
  • Safety alerts and driver monitoring
  • Driver training

Other great tips for buying the best ELD

Read ELD reviews

Nothing can be more revealing about an ELD than the actual opinions of drivers and fleet managers who have used the product and its services. Many ELD vendors provide their telematic apps as free downloads on Google Play and Itunes.  

FreightWaves Ratings seeks to provide authoritative, user-driven and objective reviews to empower fleets of all sizes to make informed decisions. 

Get a free trial run of the ELD

To determine whether an ELD is the best one for you, check to see whether the provider has a free trial or a free app you can test. Some companies offer a free demo that requires you to sign up for a remote, live demonstration of the ELD in use. If you are dealing with a sales rep, insist on getting some type of trial run – they usually comply.  

Take a hard look at the ELD provider

As mentioned earlier, the ELD mandate has attracted a lot of new entrants in the ELD market. Some that entered the market have dropped out. Keep in mind that these are technology companies. You can bet that many of their employees have never stepped inside a commercial truck cab.

Before you decide the best ELD for you, it is worth doing a little due diligence. Here are some considerations about the ELD companies to consider.

  • Years in the fleet management solution business – preferably around seven or eight years
  • Industry ranking
  • Partners, particularly resellers
  • The focus of the company
  • Customer service structure

FAQs about buying ELDs

I presently have an ELD that I like, but I’m not happy with my provider’s cloud platform. Can I integrate my software with a new ELD provider?

Yes. Several major ELD providers have an application integration interface. This type of technology allows them to partner with other ELD providers and resellers. As a result, you can integrate your data and ELD features into their platforms. Some notable ELD providers that offer software integration include:

  • KeepTruckin
  • Samsara
  • Geotab
  • Zonar
  • ISE

I have a small fleet, but it is continually growing. How can I determine whether an ELD provider can accommodate my company’s growth?

There are several ways of determining whether an ELD provider can handle your fleet’s growing needs. Find out whether the company offers elevating levels of service features, software plans and strong customer support. ELD vendors usually address this issue under the category of scalability. 

I have several drivers and other employees who aren’t tech-savvy. How can I find out whether an ELD platform is easy to use?

Reading ELD reviews can help you determine the ease of use of these products. Also, many ELD companies give you a chance to sample their products by:

  • Offering free live demos
  • Training videos on YouTube or social media
  • Providing additional help in a white paper format on their websites

With all the additional features, how do I decide which ones are best for me?

Think about your most pressing fleet-related problems. Are they related to safety, security, communication, organization, or maintenance?  It’s a good idea to develop a shopping list of features that you can use and afford. 

Final word on buying the best ELD

Of the large herd of ELD providers, there isn’t one that is suitable for every company. However, there are some fundamental criteria that your final ELD selection should satisfy. The ELD market is changing, with some companies joining in and some dropping out. It is essential to do your due diligence before buying and implementing the best ELD system for you.