Commercial drivers face strict regulations limiting how long they’re allowed to be on the road. The federal government mandates that drivers have specific electronic logging devices that record driving hours in commercial vehicles. As technology changes, it’s important to make sure your device can keep up. Read on to learn about the best ELD options.
What makes a good ELD
Electronic devices only became mandatory in December of 2019. Before that, most drivers logged their hours of service on paper.
Today, the ELD trucking mandate requires all non-exempt commercial drivers and motor carriers to have an ELD on board, which automatically records both the driver’s on-duty and off-duty HOS.
An ELD works by tracking a truck engine’s activity and gathering data about the vehicle’s movement. The devices can also come with add-ons that help with other forms of tracking that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration may require.
Many providers offer ELD systems with the following:
- GPS tracking
- Communication and messaging within the fleet
- Turn-by-turn directions
- Driver identification
- Accident reconstructions
The best ELD for your company will vary depending on your fleet’s specific needs. However, some universal requirements should be part of any ELD decision that you make.
What to consider when buying an ELD
Even though ELDs are a fairly new concept, the technology surrounding them is already changing. For instance, many mobile carriers are getting rid of their 3G networks to make room for advanced services like 5G. When you’re looking to purchase an ELD, make sure you get one that’s up-to-date.
The ELD you choose must be registered and self-certified through the FMCSA, which can be done online. As the driver or motor carrier, the FMCSA will hold you responsible for ensuring that your equipment is in compliance with the federal government’s mandates.
Any violation of those rules results in penalties like being removed from service for eight hours at a time. The FMCSA keeps track of a safety measurement score, and if it dips too low because of repeated violations, the agency conducts an investigation.
Commercial vehicles and drivers are occasionally subject to roadside inspections, so it’s important all logs and equipment are up to snuff. Safety violations can result in costly penalties.
Plus, your safety measurement score affects your ability to do the following:
- Obtain good insurance
- Find loads
- Secure contracts
- Attract talented employees
ELD trucking is made even more convenient 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, and some even offer safety management and risk alerts.
Fleet management features
There are some features in certain ELDs that benefit certain companies more than others. Small fleets may choose different ELDs than large ones, and what each company views as the best one may vary.
Every company can benefit from efficient routing and dispatching. That can save time and money, and there are plenty of ELDs that have functions to help with that efficiency.
Some, for instance, have built-in GPS trackers that provide real-time location data so you can build better routes and delivery estimates by pinpointing the exact location of your vehicles.
Security and loss prevention software
Security and loss prevention software is a must in any ELD. Some providers include geofencing features that allow you to set security zones.
Then, 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.
Dash cam options
Smart dash cams bring artificial intelligence analysis to every feature. The following details are improved as a result of the help of technology:
- FMCSA compliance
- Evidence for accident reports and insurance issues
- Protection of assets and security
- Safety alerts and driver monitoring
- Driver training
Other tips for buying the best ELD
Other than the tech options available with each ELD, it’s a good idea to check what other people with similar fleets think about each particular one, and do free trials if you can.
Take advantage of free trial runs
Before committing to an ELD, see whether you can test out a free trial run. For some demos, you may need to sign up for a remote, live demonstration of the equipment in use. If you talk with a sales rep, insist on getting some type of trial run. In most cases, they can offer you one.
Learn about the company
Finding out what other drivers and fleet managers think of a particular ELD after using it can be invaluable input. Make sure to read reviews from people who’ve used the device before, and check to make sure the provider is in good standing.
Consider the costs
The more features an ELD comes with, the more likely it is to be fairly expensive. Although the extra bells and whistles may seem appealing, make sure they’re useful to your company so you aren’t wasting money.
Choose your ELD wisely
An ELD system is required in every commercial motor vehicle, but the expense doesn’t have to be a bad thing. The best devices come with new technology and features that can boost efficiency, earning you more money in the long run.
The average price of an ELD is about $495 per truck, which can break down to about $15 per month per vehicle.
Yes, ELDs will function in older trucks, but they are not required in vehicles manufactured before the year 2000.
The FMCSA requires that ELDs be mounted in a fixed position and visible to the driver from a normal seated driving position.
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