Aaron Huff

Updated Apr 23, 2012

Low-cost compliance

AronTech vendors offer new solutions for e-logs, CSA 2010

The well of reasons for not using electronic onboard recorders for paperless driver logs is running dry. In the past, fleet executives and owners cited hardware and software costs, the dynamics of driver schedules or the fear of a mass driver exodus. Today, the fleets still using paper to manage drivers’ record-of-duty status are becoming the minority – and for good reason.

Paper logs inherently are labor-intensive and error-prone. And fleets that use paper carry the additional burden of retaining documents such as receipts from weigh scales, tolls, ports of entry and deliveries to verify the times, dates and locations of vehicles and drivers.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration also considers data from systems that use GPS for vehicle location to be supporting documents. In June, FMCSA revamped its policy to relieve motor carriers that use onboard tracking systems from most of the document requirements – provided that these systems have a few basic features, including being synchronized integrally with the vehicle and communicating position location at a rate of at least one time per hour, as well as certain reporting capabilities. FMCSA expects that carriers that have these systems already are using the information in their HOS oversight activities. Using this data after the fact to verify the accuracy of drivers’ paper logs represents an additional cost of compliance.

Furthermore, carriers will have no choice but to be more proactive in how they use data to manage safety and compliance when FMCSA switches to its new Safety Measurement System (SMS) as part of its Comprehensive Safety Analysis 2010 initiative. All violations will be counted against a motor carrier’s safety score, not just the violations that lead to out-of-service orders. Five of the top 10 most frequently cited violations in 2009 were HOS-related, with “driver log form and manner” and “driver record of duty status not current” being the most frequent.

Fleets still using paper logs are becoming the minority.

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Considering these factors, fleets that already have onboard communications systems easily can justify the incremental cost to implement an EOBR solution for paperless driver logs. Fleets that lack a computing platform now have several low-cost options.

PeopleNet recently introduced two new service offerings: an EOBR bundle and a CSA 2010 bundle. PeopleNet’s EOBR bundle is $46 per truck per month and includes the onboard computer, display and eDriver Logs application. The CSA 2010 bundle, a more comprehensive approach for $57 a month, includes eDriver Logs and other safety and compliance applications; the bundle also includes onsite help by PeopleNet Professional Services to ensure CSA 2010 readiness and a money-back guarantee.

Xata Turnpike offers RouteTracker, a Web-based fleet management system that uses a small device onboard the vehicle to combine GPS tracking, engine diagnostic reporting, electronic logbooks and other features. The company offers RouteTracker for $35 a month with no upfront hardware costs; the service includes a one-time activation fee, and customers purchase a data plan – about $20 per month – and phone from Sprint, Verizon or AT&T.

Qualcomm and FleetRisk Advisors recently announced the CSA 2010 Safety Performance Service powered by FleetRisk Advisors’ The Driving Center. The service, expected to be available this fall, incorporates information from FMCSA’s SMS database as well as vehicle-specific safety performance information from a variety of Qualcomm services to offer comprehensive views of a fleet’s compliance with CSA 2010 regulations according to FMCSA records.

The need for greater control and visibility of compliance and safety-related data will push more fleets to implement electronic logs voluntarily. It may seem like a mandate, but the incentives and benefits of going electronic also are impossible to ignore. n

Aaron Huff is Senior Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal.

E-mail [email protected] or call (801) 754-4296.