O/O + ELD = Win-Win

ELD for O/Os

When it comes to electronic logging devices (ELDs), owner operators often ask, “What’s in it for me?”

And fleet managers often ask, “What’s the best way to get owner operators to adopt ELDs for Hours of Service compliance?”

As small business owners, O/Os are sensitive to inefficiencies. So, they question whether or not ELDs are a smart investment; they want to know if they can deliver ROI. They want to know the benefits and risks. They want to know they can still make money while using Electronic Logs for Owner Operators.

Fleet managers also want owner operators to adapt ELDs when leased to their fleet. Why? O/Os with ELDs are dispatched easier, as planners quickly know hours available and who is nearby and best suited for a load. Driver communication is easier through forms, automated arrival and departure alerts, and alerts when time is low.

So, let’s break down why it’s important for an O/O to have an ELD, and ways that fleet operators can help encourage their use for a win-win partnership.



The cost of compliance matters

With the cost of FMCSA and DOT-related fines going up across the board, owner operators benefit from increasing compliance rates with ELDs, and reducing any potential for an HOS-related fine.

According to the FMCSA’s 2014 Pocket Guide to Large Truck and Bus Statistics, HOS-related offenses are the biggest contributors toward violations and out-of-service orders. And it’s not just large fleets receiving inspections – 1 million inspections were with “very small carriers” or fleets with 1-6 power units.

Let’s see just how important it is to get HOS and a Record of Duty Status right:

  • Almost 5% of driver inspections in 2013 lead to a an out-of-service order (165K out of 3.3M inspections)
  • 7 of the top 20 violations from driver inspections were HOS-related
  • 83% of OOS orders within the top 20 violations were HOS-related
  • 47% of total violations within the top 20 violations were HOS-related – over 425,000 in 2013 alone
  • There were 156,920 General/Form and Manner Log Violations – 18% of the top 20 violations

What does that mean to an owner operator?

Well, the fines are nothing to sneeze at. Recordkeeping penalties can skyrocket up to $1,100/day. Known falsification of records can earn an $11,000 fine.

Being put out of service due to an HOS issue is yet another hit to owner operator trucking business. Beyond the fines, losing a day (or more) of driving revenue, upset customers, and hits to CSA scores mean HOS issues have serious consequences. Not to mention that the chance of picking up loads for the rest of the week become diminished.

Where ELDs can help:

  • ELDs keep HOS records in tip-top shape by:
  • Eliminating form and manner violations. The easy-to-make mistakes simply don’t happen when they are tracked electronically.
  • Providing warnings when low drive or on-duty times are near
  • Providing warnings when it’s time to take a mandated 30 minute break
  • Keeping drivers and dispatchers on the same page, lowering the risk of being put on a load that exceeds HOS limits
  • Helping plan a better week by understanding resets and recaps
  • Tracking hours correctly when crossing US and Canadian borders, and complying with each rule set to the letter

Reducing paperwork

Owner operators didn’t join the trucking business for a deep love for paperwork. And unfortunately, paperwork is everywhere. HOS logs, DVIRs, trip sheets for IFTA reporting, bills of lading, proof of delivery, signed documents, route plans and, unfortunately, more.

In fact, the biggest economic benefit to ELD use, according to the FMCSA, is a reduction of that paperwork – up to $705 per driver/year in just HOS paperwork alone.

ELDs give owner operators the chance to streamline paperwork. ELDs can help out by:

  • Gaining 15 more minutes of drive time a day by ditching a paper logbook. It’s simply faster, easier, and more accurate to use an electronic log.
  • Eliminating trip sheets needed for IFTA. ELDs can automatically track the distance spent in each state, eliminating the need to manually write down odometer readings
  • Walking around the truck and document DVIRs with an electronic vehicle inspection report
  • Sending dispatches and routes to the display allowing truck drivers to see where they are going and what expectations they have
  • Providing other streamlining options, like electronic proof of delivery, allowing an operator to ditch the clipboard completely.

Proving Owner Operators are Great Drivers and Business People

Most owner operators are providing great levels of service in a safe and compliant manner. But with paper tracking alone, it’s harder to build a great roadside resume that highlights how good of a driver an O/O really is.

With insights into on-the-road activity and easy-to-use reporting tools, an ELD can tell a positive story of:

  • Compliance with Hours of Service regulations
  • Consistent start and stop times, demonstrating hard-work and reliability for getting a job done on-time and right
  • Safe and efficient driving behaviors.
  • Proof of travel history and low out-of-route miles, demonstrating an ability to navigate destinations efficiently.
  • Successful deliveries proving to customers the freight was delivered with utmost care

Helping Owner Operators Adapt

As a fleet manager who works with owner operators, there are some ways to help reduce driver resistance to mobile electronic driver logs.

For starters, adopt an e-log solution that’s easy to use and improves the work life of your drivers. By helping drivers see the benefits of an electronic log, they are more apt to start using it.

Communicate with your drivers early and often. Sudden changes can throw anyone for a loop. It’s helpful to bring owner operators, and company drivers, in on the search for an e-log solution, as well as throughout the implementation process. There will be many questions and often a short answer is all that’s needed

Explain what an ELD is, and what it’s not. Reviewing common myths is a great place to start.

Before installing electronic driver logs on owner operator trucks, try one out on a personal vehicle. Fleet managers quickly become an in-house expert and positioned to address driver questions quickly having driven miles tracked the same way.

Have a policy for using an electronic log, and the penalties for not using it. Some fleets choose to require E-logs for drivers who have had HOS violations. Other require it across the board. Whatever path you pick, have a policy and enforce it.

At the end of 2017, everyone will be required to have an ELD

While there are many benefits to using an ELD today, keep in mind that all drivers that are currently filing a Record of Duty Status will need to have an electronic log by the end of 2017 to comply with the ELD mandate.

If owner operators are using an AOBRD before 2017, they can use that device for another 2 years, making the investments made today even more impactful for the future.

But based on the benefits an owner operator can see today, why wait until the mandate? To keep up to date about the ELD mandate and how it affects you, visit eldfacts.com, an important new information site designed to foster industry understanding of this critical legislation.