Talk to any seasoned truck driving the highways today and ask them what their greatest worry is with the trucking industry. You won’t hear “A lack of loads” or “Too many low paying jobs.” What you will hear is “The government requiring electronic log books” or “E-logs mandated by trucking companies.” NPR reports a solid review of how truckers feel about the use of electronic on board recording devices, which are actually different from e-logs. Whether or not you are currently using e-log books or not, there’s a great chance you may have to use them in the future. If the DOT doesn’t implement these across the board, then you may work for a nationwide trucking company that requires electronic log books. To make the most of this technology as it revolutionizes the trucking industry, let’s look at benefits of using this system along with tips for making the most of e-logs.
Understanding How Electronic Log Books Work
A traditional logbook for truck drivers is made out of paper, allowing you to write in your daily log information using pen. As for electronic log books, the paper and pen method is tossed out of the window. Instead everything you do is automatically recorded by a computer program. National trucking companies are more likely to require electronic log books at the present time. However, truck drivers who drive for smaller companies or as owner operators can begin using e-logs on their own.
Setting Up an Electronic Log Book System
Every system is set up differently depending on the software manufacturer. However, for general purposes in order to use an electronic log book, you will need to have some way to access this technology. While a smartphone might work in a pinch, the screen size is more likely to cause you aggravation when inputting your data. Opt for something larger like a tablet or laptop computer. Make sure when you purchase a new device that your software will be compatible. For example, if you choose an Apple device, i.e. an iPad or MacBook Pro, you will want to choose a software program that is compatible with iOS. Otherwise, Windows is the most common type of operating program that is useful for operating programs. Avoid attempting to use eReaders, such as the Kindle Fire, as these operating systems are limited in regards to e-log programs.
- You will need to get a printer that is compatible with your phone, laptop or tablet so you can print off a paper copy. This is typically required by law enforcement in the instance they request a copy of your e-log book.
How to Find an Electronic Log Book Program
The ideal place to purchase this software is online, given that e-Logs are new to the market. You aren’t going to be able to find software for sell for e-logging at your favorite truck stop — not yet anyway. Several companies on the market provide electronic log book programs and software including:
Another option is to use apps that function as e-log systems. These include:
- Big Road
- KeepTruckin Trucker Log Book
- Drivers Daily Log
There are some questions regarding apps for recording as electronic logs. In order to make sure you are working with a legit app, FMSCA regulations must be met:
- The app must allow for updates on your status when the truck is moving and when it’s not.
- The e-log must synchronize with your tractor trailer’s motor to ensure it’s actually recording your on and off duty hours.
- Law enforcement must be able to view your hours of service records.
- The records kept must be tamper proof.
Make sure that whatever program you choose, it is DOT and FMCSA approved for hours of service rules. Otherwise you may find yourself fined or shut down for noncompliance due to inaccurate log records.
E-Logs versus EOBRs
Something to note here is that electronic log books are not the same thing as an electric on board recorder (EOBR). The EOBR is the most controversial type of recording device as this automatically records everything from miles driven to speedometer readings. EOBRs work using GPS technology so that the on-board recorders document everything from your location at any given time, to how long your truck is shut down in regards to hours of service rules.
Regulating the Trucking Industry Using EOBRs
The US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) first proposed that companies employing truck drivers whom are repeatedly failing in compliance with hours of service rules would be mandated to use EOBRs. Then the proposal changed to state that EOBRs would be mandatory in all interstate commercial trucks. However, to date the requirements for EOBRs has not passed onto the books. It’s important to note that truck drivers, such as LTL drivers, may be exempt from EOBR as long as they use time cards for keeping track of their payable hours. There is a great deal of pushback on the implementation of EOBRs across the board due to cost of technology and training that would be needed by drivers, dispatchers, trucking company owners and insurance providers. After all, more than half a million US carriers would be affected if the use of EOBRs are mandated.
How You Can Benefit from Electronic Logs
First of all, there is no way to falsify your log book when you use an e-log system. This ensures that your records are totally legitimate and in compliance, which leaves zero room for questioning on behalf of a DOT inspector or your boss. At the same time, when you use an electronic log book, there is no way to get around your hours of service rules. As a result, dispatchers are incapable of pushing you to have an unreasonable and demanding delivery schedule. It’s just not possible with an e-log. Also, when you go across scales or hit an inspection by the DOT, you don’t have to worry about making errors in your calculations. An electronic log book handles all of this for you. You save time during your off-duty hours, as you are no longer spending time logging your records. Your data can be submitted to your employer or dispatch in seconds using the Internet, which means you could potentially get paid faster for loads—no more faxing, copying, or mailing your logs. Save time and improve your workload by implementing e-logs into your daily routine.