electronic log books vs
paper logs:
will you be ready for e-logs?

A log book system that may well finish off what's left of the trucking industry?

Will this system make the truck driver shortage for carriers, an even bigger problem?

These are just some of the questions that have our already overstressed industry in a tailspin.......the introduction of the electronic log book for drivers in the trucking industry.

The electronic log book or e-log, is a hot topic of debate, with drivers and trucking companies.

They are designed to accurately record what the truck does, 24/7!

The standard style paper log book opens up the opportunity to falsify the driver's actions. However, this doesn't happen with these on-board recorders tracking the truck driver's every move.

Accurate records of the truck's actions are very useful in a DOT inspection or for a carrier's safety audit. Often, truck inspection stations will keep records which carriers operate with the electronic log book method, and will usually waive these trucks on through the inspection station.

The Trucking Company's Take on the Electronic Log Book 

  • Upper management of large fleets love the paperless log book because of the problems they eliminate. The records are not only accurate, but legible.
  • They don't require close scrutiny and analysis for hours of service violations by the trucking company.
  • The system keeps control of the logs and produces summaries that can be reviewed by a company's safety team.... a huge time and money savings for the trucking company.
  • Small fleets and owner operators don't seem to be impressed with e-logs, due to the high cost of the system and the scrutiny of their every action.
  • However, this method can also be a dispatcher's worst nightmare.

    Dispatchers have the unpleasant task of explaining to anxious customers why their anticipated delivery isn't on time. They also must have a good working knowledge of the electronic methodology, which makes their scheduling much more challenging than it already is.

But, hey.... that's their job, and that's why they get paid the big bucks!

The Truck Driver's View on E-logs

  • It seems as though drivers who have actually used the e-logs, either love it or hate it.
  • I've interviewed several truck drivers who have been using the system for over a year. They indicated that as drivers, they've never been more 'rested' and 'relaxed in 30+ years of driving. There's no being rushed or pushed by dispatchers demanding unreasonable delivery schedules.
  • It's also a stress reliever at the scales, too. Some owner operators have noticed improvements in their diesel fuel economy, due to the scrutiny of speed controls.
  • Having said that, potentially, there's less money to be made by a driver on this system. It's impossible to run as hard or as long as you could on a paper log book.
  • It's now more important than ever to work for a carrier with the best mileage rate and especially one that pays your waiting time and layover time.

A Comparison: Paper Log Book vs E-Logs

Electronic log: Pro

  • log data is stored in a unified system for easy access
  • real time view of data by the carrier.... can intervene if necessary
  • easy to find specific log entries by a search
  • faster completion for the trucker
  • better security of sensitive, important data, which can be accessed by designated people and can also easily keep back-up files off-site in case of company computer crashes
  • driver doesn't need to worry about keeping his log book current to be compliant
  • truck driver IDEALLY should get more rest, but do they really? If the electronic log indicate the driver has reset and is ready and good to go at 2am, is this a safe practice when his body clock says he isn't ready?
  • no doubt, a safer, less fallible system, when utilized correctly, which is really what the focus of the system is SUPPOSEDLY about.
  • prevents speeding, falsification of a log book entry and ensures a trucker's proper rest periods.

 Electronic Log: Con

  • an expensive system for a carrier to implement and maintain
  • the truck driver will most likely make less money on this method. Stringent patrols allow for no error.... drivers are paid by the mile and it only stands to reason.... fewer miles means fewer bucks.
  • this system needs some work to more easily switch over when drivers cross the border, changing from the Canadian hours to service, to U.S. hours of service rules.
  • the legal value of e-logs is a bit of a foggy area
  • if a D.O.T. officer asks to see your log records and they are stored on your on-board recorder, you're stuck until your company can produce paper copies or you have a printer to produce hard copies......in other words, you may be at that inspection station for a long, long time if waiting for your company to produce the data!

Paper Log: Pro

  • Drivers can turn more miles. More miles means more money, because of a fallible method.

Paper Log: Con

  • for carriers, the paper log can be in various places in their facility, making it sometimes challenging for employees to access the logs for needed data checks and audits.
  • very time consuming to locate particular entries
  • paper log books are often submitted to the trucking company weeks after completion by the driver... long after very serious violations may have occurred
  • extremely expensive and difficult to scrutinize ... very expensive labor costs to scrutinize properly
  • paper log records can be damaged or lost by either the trucker or the carrier..... and data can be forged or deleted
  • the paper log system relies on legible handwriting... sloppy entries or missing information can result in truck driver and carrier fines by a D.O.T. inspector or in a facility safety audit
  • driver must repetitively complete a great deal of information....very time consuming
  • the trucker can forget to update log books

The Future 

The introduction of the e-log book method has generally been very upsetting for many truckers. They feel their livelihood being threatened, by even greater control over their driving and earning potential.

Perhaps due to the unrest in the industry, including heavy scrutiny by the authorities and public pressures, the average trucker is reluctant to adapt to the system, as it's just one more 'nail in the coffin', for a job that has less appeal than ever. 

The trucking companies are under pressure to switch over to the electronic record keeping, but many of the smaller carriers are finding the cost prohibitive.

There's no doubt that the electronic log book system, due to public pressure for safety and changing regulations, is the future of the trucking industry.

Here are two questions I'll leave you to ponder..........

  1. Will the trucking industry survive the change, especially the truck driver and the small trucking company?
  2. Is the change REALLY about safety? Will the new system make our highways safer?

Smart Trucking Tip

If you have an electronic log book system in your rig, invest in a cheap printer. If you're required to submit logs to a D.O.T. officer, the ability to print off your logs from the on-board recorder, could save you a lot of time.

Otherwise, you'll need to wait until your company provides them to the office.... it could be a long wait.

Got a Comment about Electronic Logs?

Let's hear YOUR take on E-Logs.

Trucker Comments on Electronic Logs

Click below to see views of other truckers.

Zonar Not Very Efficient 
My company installed Zonar. Not only have my miles deceased, Zonar is completely slow. I need to wait constantly for pages to load. If I'm in a bad area, …

It is about the money ! 
The driver is driving by the hour and being paid by the mile (book miles). Even if truck miles, the driver cannot make a decent living wage. There are …

E-Logs Saved Me! 
Personally, I'm a fan of e-logs. I was involved in an accident on black ice, and the speed on the onboard recorder indicated that I was doing what I …

Log Book Violation: Is There Any Hope? 
Question: I was ticketed in California for log book error. I was within 150 miles of my home base. In my log book, the last entry was two hours before …

E-Logs Are Not The Answer We Need 
The E log book method, has no outright place in the cab of a semi truck. I am sorry, but there are already too many regulations that are enforced on truck …

Truckers May Want to Give the E-Log System a Chance. 
Good drivers are in demand . Always have been, always will be. Electronic logs shouldn't be a threat or a concern for good drivers. Many truckers are …

Unbelievable, unrealistic, and complete CRAP about Electronic LogBooks and any support of their mandated use 
I would hope that some day soon we could have people with just some kind of a clue or sincerity in an effort for SAFETY and not political agendas,to do …

Merry Road Runner Not rated yet
Forty-one years on the NA highways with the old paper log books and dashboard clocks and I did just fine. For those old timers, the days of company dispatchers …

14 Hr Rule NOT Good For the Driver Not rated yet
My problem with e logs is the initiation of the 14 hour day. Why don't they give you more flexibility to get your 11 hours in? Currently, we sit waiting …

LTL Delays Not rated yet
As a small LTL carrier, we ask... Has anyone looked into what will happened when we get held up for 3 or 4 hours at a warehouse, who couldn't care less …

Don't Call Me a Liar Not rated yet
I live in Canada and I am a retired professional driver. I still have my Class 1 license, for how much longer I don't know. I do drive the odd time and …

On Duty Time is Counted as Driving Time Not rated yet
Every morning when I start my 14 hour clock, I log on-duty. The 8 hours drive time starts counting down. If I take 30 minutes to pre-trip, I lose 30 …

No E-Logs for Me Not rated yet
How does a computer know when I am tired or ready to go? E-logs are NOT safer!! When running on paper logs, I can pull over when I'm tired and get the …

Company Re-logging My E-Logs Not rated yet
My company recently re-logged some of my e- logs, to give me "time to work". Seems the real reason for pushing e-ogs is so the company can take control …

First, we should talk about the pay system. Not rated yet
I think, before they make any regulations about E-logs and more and more rules, they should talk about how we get paid and who carries the high costs of …

Cost Not rated yet
As a driver who is capable of making $50,000 a year on paper logs compared to $30,000 with e-logs in same time spent away from home, I see one question...... …

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