Getting on board with electronic logs

By Aaron Huff on
Lori Rustin, safety manager of Boyd Bros., discusses ELDs at the CCJ Spring Symposium
Lori Rustin, safety manager of Boyd Bros., discusses ELDs at the CCJ Spring Symposium

Five years ago, Al Beers “swore to God” that his company would never use electronic logging devices (ELDs). That oath softened when Karr Transportation’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability scores went up and finally broke apart when the company was audited by the DOT.

“This is what we are going to have to do,” he concluded. Karr Transportation implemented ELDs and Beers, president of the 35-truck fleet based in Lavergne, Tenn., saw an immediate impact on CSA scores by virtually eliminating hours-of-service violations.

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The days when drivers, dispatchers and shippers could count on the “flexibility” of using paper logbooks (known in some circles as swindle sheets) to mask inefficiencies in the supply chain are long gone. Beers now has a message for drivers that want to keep trucking beyond what the law allows.

“If you go out and kill someone, you’re going to prison for the rest of your life. Your kids are going to be without you. Your wife is going to be with another man raising your kids. And all for what, so you could get a load there on time? It’s not worth it,” he said during a breakout session at the CCJ Spring Symposium in Nashville, Tenn., on May 20.

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On the downside, Karr Transportation saw a decrease in revenue from lost productivity. That problem was short lived. Drivers and dispatchers learned how to use the technology to plan more efficient routes and schedules.

“We showed drivers that we can make them more productive,” he said.

Similar stories emerged from fleet executives and managers during the breakout session on ELDs.

One year ago, Lori Rustin from Boyd Bros. Transportation was training drivers for the 750-truck flatbed carrier headquartered in Clayton, Ala. She was offered a new job as safety manager as Boyd Bros. was in the process of implementing ELDs.

With 18 years’ experience in transportation, including time spent behind the wheel as a driver and trainer, Rustin — like most people at the company — knew little about the technology.

“I don’t think I slept 5 minutes,” she said about the day she accepted the job. “What kind of problem is this going to be? How are drivers going to accept this?”

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The biggest obstacle was combating drivers’ pre-conceived notion that the technology would make their lives more difficult. To disprove this, Boyd Bros. Transportation started by asking 11 drivers well versed in hours-of-service rules to use ELDs.

The 11 drivers shared their experiences with other drivers. Soon, other drivers came forward to adopt ELDs voluntarily. Boyd Bros. required all of its new driver hires to use ELDs. One year later, approximately half of the fleet is on electronic logs and ahead of schedule to be fully deployed by the time the ELD mandate takes effect, which could be as early as 2016.

For Boyd Bros., the transition to ELDs involved training managers and load planners to use new software that provided live visibility of drivers’ hours, she said. Previously, drivers would supply their hours-of-service status through mobile communications.

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The benefits of ELDs, Rustin said, have been tangible improvements in CSA scores, fewer DOT inspections, virtually zero missing logs and a much more efficient way to manage compliance.

Rustin’s presentation and the discussion among fleet executives and managers covered a variety of topics that are important to consider when implementing ELDs, all of which every carrier and driver will soon encounter if they haven’t already.

CLICK HERE to see 7 lessons learned from the wide-ranging discussion on ELDs at the CCJ Spring Symposium:

Aaron Huff

Aaron Huff is the Senior Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. Huff’s career in the transportation industry began at a family-owned trucking company and expanded to CCJ, where for the past 14 years he has specialized in covering business and technology for online and print readers and speaking at industry events. A recipient of numerous regional and national awards, Huff holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Brigham Young University and a Masters Degree from the University of Alabama.

6 comments
Bert
Bert

So this is for you Al Beers. Are we to understand if we have E logs and have an accident and kill someone we will be free and clear? This ignorance on E logs is ridiculous.  The accident rates in Europe are no better than ours and they have E logs already, as do they have speed limiters. Hey Aaron why don't you do something constructive and go to Europe and ask the drivers what they think of their systems and speed limiters. You might just learn something.

David Vargyas
David Vargyas

Sir, I am reading your article entitled "7 lessons learned about ELD's."  Item number 4 refers to customers not allowing drivers to stay on their property, you wrote, "Technically, drivers are allowed a few miles to move vehicles to a "safe harbor" should this happen."  Even if they are out of driving hours.

This is news to me.  What regulation are you citing?  

The only regulation that the I am aware of that extends driving time is 392.1(2)(b) Adverse Driving Conditions. The FMCSA is very specific about what constitutes Adverse Driving Conditions.  Inability to stay at a customer's facility is not included in the conditions.

You help is clearing this up is greatly appreciated.  Thank You

Truth Rider
Truth Rider

Huff your ceaseless fawning and swooning over every piece of privacy invading technology on the market is becoming tiresome. Large and medium size Fleets gloss over the administrative headaches, cost, lost productivity and increased stress on drivers that feel compelled to drive faster and take more risks to "beat the clock." This is for two reasons; firstly because those meat sticks they toss into the cab of the truck mean absolutely nothing to them. Not diddly squat. They're a number. A trained monkey. Second they will do ANYTHING, even cutting their own throats, to force costly, unnecessary burdens upon small fleet and single truck owners if it will force them out of business. They can't compete fairly with experienced owner / operators that get the job done safely and efficiently without the need for speed limiters, cameras or cumbersome computer systems that regulate every second of their lives like some Orwellian nightmare run amok.

Huff you should send a resume to the FMCSA. You could be their very own Jay Carney.

Amish Trucker
Amish Trucker

Theoretically, ELD's should save a carrier time in auditing.  However, if you were scanning logs before, that savings is actually minimal, depending on your provider.  Since drivers have the ability to manually change their status from on duty to off, a carrier must make sure the driver has stayed on duty for inspections, fuel, loading, etc.  Is your ELB software able to interface with a fuel card or dispatch software?  Drivers also may have to manually enter a trailer number and a bill of lading number or shipper and commodity. Canny roadside inspectors will issue form and manner violations if these items are missing.  Make sure your provider can run a report to look for these items.

AaronHuff
AaronHuff

@David Vargyas I reviewed my notes from the meeting and it appears I made an error. This topic was discussed but nobody really had an answer. The part about drivers being allowed a few miles to move to a "safe harbor" was actually a question someone had, which I thought they were stating as a fact.


With paper logs the driver could find a way around it, but not with electronic logs. Once the 14 or the 11-hour clock runs out, that's it. Sorry for the confusion.

AaronHuff
AaronHuff

@Truth Rider Actually I was just reporting what fleets were saying. Of course there are problems with the technology, which is why one fleet owner (Al Beers) swore he would never use ELDs. But, most fleets you talk to these days don't really have a choice. They have to do something to eliminate hours-of-service violations and keep their CSA scores down. Also, most fleets I talk to say that most of their drivers complain about electronic logs until they actually use them. If you are an owner operator then I understand where you are coming from. You probably don't need any of this technology, but I appreciate your input.

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