Truck drivers are excellent at being prepared. You are prepared to take a load at a moment’s notice. You maintain your paperwork in preparation for a DOT inspection at any time. You prepare your route before you drive that first mile on a delivery. You are prepared when you apply for a trucking job with a company like Bridger Transportation or Quest Global.
So you might as well go ahead and prepare for the possibility of e-logging devices in December 2017. Yes, there is still a chance that the Trump administration will reverse the e-log mandate, but it’s getting slimmer by the month. To help you prepare we’ve covered everything you need to know about purchasing, installing and using these devices.
How E-Logs Work
Electronic logging devices will keep track of your hours of service. They will replace paper log books. Everything regarding your on duty, off duty, and on duty but not driving time will be monitored using the e-log system. It will transmit the data at any time to law enforcement, the DOT and/or the FMCSA.
When getting an e-log device for your truck it must be able to connect to the truck engine in order to record when your rig is rolling. On your end you’ll receive an updated graph chart that tells you how many hours you have for driving and resting left in the day.
Where to Buy Electronic Logging Devices
Based on a search for e-log devices there are several companies making these devices. However, when you go to a place like Amazon to search for them it’s a jumble. There are plenty of car tracking devices, but these are aimed at spy gear rather than truck drivers. Also most of these units do not track the hours of service logs that are mandated for truckers. Instead they only track your route.
So where do you go to purchase an e-log device for your big rig? Here are some suggested companies online that state they are FMCSA compliant:
- VDO RoadLog ELD is sold by three online vendors: Ryder Fleet Products, Wheeler Bros., and PartDeal. The price ranges from $500 to $575.
- Garmin dezl 760 is sold by several online retailers including Walmart and eBay, and it is priced from $270 to $380.
- Garmin Fleet 670 can only be purchased via fleet management partners, making it ideal for trucking companies but not for independent drivers.
- JJ Keller Elogs cost $250 for the device, but then you are also required to pay $209 a year for an Encompass subscription that monitors your logs.
- Rand McNally HD 100 logging device sold online is about $300.
Using an App
Can you use your smartphone to monitor your electronic logs? Sort of. You can only use an app to read and submit information. You are required to have a tracking device attached to your engine. So even if you can find a free app for an e-log system you are still going to have to pay for a monitoring device.
For example, Rand McNally has released the HD 100 app on iTunes for Apple users. However, to use this app you have to purchase the Rand McNally HD 100 logging device, which is about $300. Garmin also has an app, this one called the Forward Thinking for Android users. It functions based on movement and logs you as on duty for your hours of service. As part of the Forward Thinking system it functions with the Garmin dezl 760 device.
Subscription Plans Necessary
Now that you have paid about $400 for an electronic logging device, that’s not the last of it. You will also need to have constant wireless connectivity. This requires signing up for yet another wireless service with a company like your cell phone provider. It is reportedly going to cost about $40 a month just to pay for the internet service for electronic logs.
Rounding Up the Figures
Adding everything up that you will need to shell out for an e-log system, we have:
- $270 to $600 for an e-log tracking device
- $0 for most apps
- $40 a month/ $480 a year, ongoing, for wireless service
That is a cost of no less than $750 a year for the first year, with expenses ongoing. Of course as with anything electronic you’ll need to get an update or upgrade in a year or two. So in reality you’re looking at an ongoing expense of $500 or more a year just for the e-log system. Compared to the buck or two for a paper log and an ink pen, this is definitely costing truckers and trucking companies a lot more money in the long run. Is the savings worth it? It is for the FCMSA and DOT apparently.