The introduction of electronic logs has caused hype in the world of trucking. Is it 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 logbooks: 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 Logbooks: 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 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……….
- Will the trucking industry survive the change, especially the truck driver and the small trucking company?
- 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.