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Could the ELD solve the attraction to smartphone distraction?

Mobile based ELDs

Fleet Complete, Geotab and BigRoad are among the dozens of mobile-device-based options for ELD compliance.

We’ve all seen it and most of us have probably done it.

You’re driving along and hear that distinctive “ding.” You pick up your phone, read the text and hammer out a reply with one knee on the steering wheel to keep your lane. With mobile device already in-hand, might as well check Facebook, right? Twitter? Oh, a couple new emails.

Before you realize it, you’re straddling the lane divider and probably speeding.

It happens. It’s stupid, but it happens.

A recent study conducted by SmartDrive Systems concluded that most distracted drivers are 36 percent more likely to be involved in a near collision than other drivers.

That’s not all that difficult to wrap your head around; that distracted drivers are more likely to have an accident. But an interesting footnote, according to the study, is that drivers distracted by a mobile device are 88 percent more likely to be involved in a near collision than all other drivers and nearly three-times more likely than all other drivers to drive 10 mph or more over the speed limit.

SmartDrive analysis of in-cab video and observation data gathered over 14.5 billion driving miles show that distracted drivers are more likely than all other drivers to have a near collision, fail to stop at an intersection and exceed the speed limit.

The only practical way to remove the temptation for quick check of the phone is to turn it off and store it out of reach. If you have a video-based driver monitoring system, you can monitor whether or not it’s happening but that doesn’t prevent it. But with the electronic log mandate looming later this year, mobile devices will be placed in a tempting position – within the driver’s reach.

ELDs basically come in two forms: fixed-mount/dedicated and smartphone/app based.

The “bring your own device” method uses Bluetooth to communicate with a smartphone or tablet via a dongle connected to the ECM through the onboard diagnostics port. Not only does that put the driver’s phone within reach, it makes it a vital function of the business.

The one thing the ELD mandate most-assuredly is going to do is press drivers for more efficiency, and that could lead to improved safety and less distraction on the road.

According to Telogis, fleets outfitted with electronic logging devices reported a 12 percent reduction in crashes and a drop in speeding and harsh braking incidents.

SmartDrive’s study says drivers distracted by a mobile device waste 8 percent more fuel, than other drivers but Telogis says ELD users have seen a 25 percent saving in fuel costs, and a 30 percent savings in unproductive idling.

How SmartDrive’s study will wash with Telogis’ data with a wide adoption of ELDs in the years ahead will be interesting to see.


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Jason Cannon is the Equipment Editor for Commercial Carrier Journal and Overdrive, and is a Class A CDL holder. Reach him at