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7 Considerations when Choosing an Electronic Driver Log System

May 2, 2017

An Electronic Driver Log (EDL) is a device intended to help create a safer work environment for drivers, and improve accuracy in tracking, managing and sharing track records of duty status (RODS) data. Back in December 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced the implementation of a Final Rule that would improve roadway safety by employing technology to strengthen commercial truck and bus drivers’ compliance with hours-of-service regulations that prevent fatigue. This rule requires truck and bus drivers to install an Electronic Driver Log.

The rule impacts drivers who have been using traditional methods like paper logs or logging software and automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs). Considering the mandate isn’t going anywhere and it’s an obligation for bus and truck companies to ensure safety on the road, it’s mandatory to install an EDL device. Choosing the right EDL equipment for your fleet can be a challenge if you do not know what to check for. But that should not worry you because we have highly technical personnel who can review your business, then recommend the best EDL for your business based on your needs. Below are factors to consider when purchasing an EDL for your company.

1. Does the EDL meet the minimum requirements listed by FMCSA?

Before choosing a device, you have to check if it is in compliance with the FMCSA measures. A full list of the requirements is on the Government Publishing Office’s website. Based on those requirements, we check if it can perform the following functions;

  • Integral Synchronization — an EDL must connect to the engine to automatically capture information like motion status, engine power status, and miles driven.
  • Record location information — an EDL must capture location information during vehicle motion, engine on or off, change of duty status, at the beginning and end of personal use and yard moves.
  • HOS Deriver Advisory Messages  — an EDL must notify the driver of unassigned driving time/miles upon login.
  • Device ‘Default’ Duty status — an EDL must default to “On Duty not driving” When the vehicle has not moved for 5 continuous minutes, and the driver has not responded to an ELD prompt within 1 minute.
  • Show a graph grid display — An EDL must display a graph grid showing the driver’s daily status changes.
  • Communication of Data — An EDL must be able to display standardized data to authorized safety officials via a display or printout on request.
  • Tamper resistance — An EDL device should be designed in a way to resist erasing of recorded files. Also, the EDL must support data integrity checking functions.
  • Detect Sensor failures and data edits — it must identify and record any malfunctions or data inconsistencies.
EDL operating systems

2. The Operating System on the EDL

Apart from the hardware that is usually plugged into vehicle engines, there is the software part. The software in combination with the hardware is what forms a complete automated fleet management system. Software can be in the form of mobile apps usually installed on drivers’ phones and web portal for managing fleets. Every EDL comes with a different operating system installed, so we check for the following;

  • Customization — depending on a review of your company, we check if the EDL can be configured to give data specific to your needs. Let’s say your trucks handle refrigerated products; then you might need an EDL with temperature tracking capability.
  • User Interface — grasping technical aspects of a system can require some training. We consider how easier it is to interact with the software installed on an EDL before purchasing.
  • Scalability — Is your company growing fast and you may take into account adding more vehicles to the fleet? This will help you make a decision between choosing software that supports a smaller fleet or one with scalability and can support a growing fleet of vehicles.
EDL mobile devices

3. Accompanying mobile device

An EDL comes with accompanying devices; it could be a cell phone, tablet, or even a laptop. These devices hold the operating system we’ve just mentioned above. Before selecting an EDL, you have to consider how it will impact on your drivers and mechanics. Most people use mobile phones so getting around a mobile phone would be easy. Some people may prefer using tablets and laptops because of a larger display than a mobile phone. Since drivers have to input data into the system; like logins or records of duty status, the cost of training the drivers and mechanics to use the system has to be considered choosing an EDL. You may consider choosing an EDL vendor who offers training as an after sales service.

4. Wireless Channel the EDL uses

Some devices use satellites while others use cell phones. On deciding whether to go with a cell phone or a satellite based system, we review where your trucks are most likely to go. In certain areas, cell phone coverage could be lost, meaning the EDL may not be able to send data to the fleet control center. We have to consider how to go about such a case or if we should use a satellite-based system.

5. Reporting

Does the device have reporting features? Technology is meant to make life easier. The EDL is brought in to do away with paperwork. The right EDL should have reporting features that satisfy the needs of the company. Records stored should be accessible for HOS compliance, law enforcements, and weigh stations. The data should be shareable and exportable via reports to send to several recipients over email. The dashboard for the fleet manager should be easy to use.

6. Cost of Operations and Support

Whether you have a small or a large fleet, there will be costs of operations per unit involved. When picking an EDL, we put into consideration factors like installation costs, system time charges, access fees, and ongoing support. We compare products to come up with the best that can fit your fleet. Our final selection is usually based on what offers the greatest value and not what is least expensive. We consider equipment warranty and whether the vendor of the EDL will be available for future support and inquiries.

7. Communication

Some EDL devices offer 2-way messaging where the fleet manager can send notifications from the management dashboard, and the driver can respond from their mobile device that has the EDL app. As the use of a cellphone while driving is prohibited on US roads, having an alternative way for drivers to send information to the fleet manager is a great advantage. You have to consider if your company needs such a feature based on what the company does. For example, drivers can use a 2-way messaging feature to notify the fleet manager that they have arrived at a warehouse.

Would your company would like to choose an EDL that addresses both its business concerns and inefficiencies? Knowing where to look, which questions to ask, and what to test, will get you an EDL device that will suitably fit your company needs.

Are you looking to install an Electronic Driver Log in your company vehicles? Contact one of our advisors today!

Links

https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2015-12-16/pdf/2015-31336.pdf (Government Publishing Office’s website)
http://www.truckinginfo.com/channel/fleet-management/article/story/2017/03/14-things-you-need-to-know-before-elds-become-mandatory.aspx

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