Fleet Management

Commentary: Separating Electronic Logs and Hours of Service

March 2017, TruckingInfo.com - Editorial

by Deborah Lockridge, Editor-in-Chief - Also by this author

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Deborah Lockridge
Deborah Lockridge

Mandatory electronic logs have been a long time coming. A broad range of issues dogged the 15-year effort to draft a rule, including concerns about tampering, driver harassment, expense, and how enforcement officials would do their jobs. It was the subject of a protracted court battle.

Yet the underlying issue for many fleets really wasn’t so much the notion of using an electronic device to track driver hours — it was the hours of service regulations themselves.

Many drivers have “fudged” their paper logs for very good reasons. Maybe they were only 30 minutes from home when they ran out of hours because they got caught in a traffic jam on a highway blocked by a serious accident. Maybe they had to wait an excessive amount of time to deliver their load, despite arriving on time for their appointment. Maybe they had to drive farther to find a safe parking place to spend their required sleeper berth time. With electronic logs, fleets and drivers know they no longer will be able to get away with these types of “adjustments.”

This was pointed out to me by David Heller, vice president of government affairs for the Truckload Carriers Association, who I talked to for this month’s cover story on the electronic logging device mandate that goes into effect in December. He contends that by digging in their heels and resisting the ELD mandate, fleets are only hurting their cause for revising the HOS regs to something that better reflects the day-to-day realities of trucking.

“They need to start embracing technology,” he told me. “If we want to fix hours of service — which believe me, we’re trying to do — arguing against ELDs is not the way to do it.

“As an industry, I can’t emphasize this enough, we can’t advocate non-compliance. Nobody can advocate for a change in the rules by saying we’re not going to follow the rules. The best way is to embrace the benefits of the technology and argue the [HOS] changes at a later time. We can emphasize problems with truck parking, with detention time, and ELDs will go a long way toward doing that, because we will have sound data and sound science behind us.”

I’ve said in this space before, it’s past time for the industry to embrace electronic logs. Back in 2011, I wrote an editorial on electronic logs asking whether Buck Rogers, the fictional space hero, would use paper logs. Isn’t it time, I asked, to move into the 21st century and go paperless? What kind of public image does it paint in the eyes of the public when an industry that uses high-tech routing and navigation and other technology is still tracking its driver hours in a way that largely hasn’t changed since before World War II?

To be sure, there are challenges involved in adopting ELDs, from choosing the right system for your fleet to training both drivers and management on the use of the devices and some changes in the rules. We’ve talked to nearly two dozen compliance and safety experts, ELD providers, and fleets to give you some help in navigating those challenges in this month’s cover story.


  1. 1. Richard Pingel [ March 17, 2017 @ 05:47AM ]

    In a perfect world, this argument would make sense, but Trucking is far from perfect. Considering how long it takes for government to work, how many drivers and small carriers are just going to give up? It's easy for the Large Truckload Carriers to say just live with the consequences until we get it fixed. They have the resources to do drop and hook or repower a load. They can also just let their driver sit until he gets more hours, or have the back office "adjust" their hours.
    The HOS is absolutely a major part of the ELD problem, but total rigid compliance will do nothing for safety, and only enrich the large carriers. We already know what the problems are with detention and a "one-size-fits-all" HOS. Let's fix that problem first.

  2. 2. BarbRRB [ March 17, 2017 @ 06:18AM ]

    Have a point on ELD's and how HOS need changes. However I will never agree to in. There is the large carriers out there and plenty of data to look at for the truth. I will always believe this should have never became "mandatory". The word "safety" was the icing on the cake. ELD's do not make us safer. We are human and until there is a perfect person, accidents will happen. I for one, work local, home every night and off weekends. Most days I can make it home. Others, I may be 2-3-4 hours from home. Exempt from the, ELD's and I do fill out accurately because I get paid by the hour and getting paid for over 60 is a huge red flag. Of course this is my story and others have theirs. We are all different.

  3. 3. David Stanley [ March 17, 2017 @ 09:02AM ]

    HOS rules are currently unforgiving
    This all stems from the Feds goal of reducing truck fatalities So much progress could be made if the drivers were included in the safety equation but as of this moment truckers are treated as criminals for any deviation from the Hos. I'm not a criminal because I can't find a safe place to park even though I've done my due diligence and planed ahead. I'm not a criminal because flagstaff has been closed due to weather and now I'm out of hours. Truckers get it and understand it. How about it Fmcsa a little grace would be a great help

  4. 4. Richard [ March 17, 2017 @ 10:37AM ]

    My advice...get out of trucking or starve to death unless you are union and have an hourly job.
    I figure that being "safe and goody two shoes would cost me at least 20K per year versus running two paper logs.
    If you are trucking for any other reason than as much money you can make you need to get out period

  5. 5. Rod Hannifey [ March 19, 2017 @ 01:32AM ]

    As an Australian truckie, we will have optional EWDS later this year and all the authorities say EWDS will make the roads safer. Will they have any flexibility, not enough, will they stop crashes were cars run into trucks, no and will they make me safer, NO. But will they leave me liable and in trouble for things over which I have no control, but which will affect both my income and my ability to manage both my hours and my fatigue, yes. Does anyone care, no, but the authorities say it will be safer, so let them be monitored to that level as well. I believe we must have the hours rules fixed first here, before they are mandatory. An EWD could see you guilty of manslaughter if an idiot runs into you and you are 5 minutes over time, but a paper load can be argued against real or your watch time. Which would you prefer? Safe Travelling, Rod.

  6. 6. steve [ June 10, 2017 @ 09:40AM ]

    elogs need to be owned and managed by the cdl holder, just like paper logs, not a trucking company, one-ssn one-elog provider, the cdl holder grants access to the trucking company cdl holder is driving for that day


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