Logging your trips for compliance and safety

Graham Wood 01/24/2020 Vehicle Management

The first rule of fleet management is: you DO talk about safety. The second rule of fleet management is: you ALWAYS talk about safety. We talk about driver safety a lot on this blog. And this time our topic is the logging of trips and why you should do it for safety reasons, as well as for boosting efficiency.

For any fleet manager worth his or her salt, the top priority should be their drivers. If it’s not, then something is going terribly wrong. And it’s highly likely that a business which does not have their drivers as their number one priority tend to have a high turnover of drivers. In short, they can’t hang on to the best drivers out there.

But, human resources management and how to keep the best drivers aside, you should be logging your trips for compliance with legal requirements, as well as to help you plan more efficiently. For that, there’s ELD (Electronic Logging Device) law compliance. It's about avoiding penalties from the police for driving over-time, and ensuring that you minimize potential accidents due to driver fatigue.

Logging your trips for Uncle Sam

First things first, while the concept of Big Brother watching over you is often an uncomfortable one, the reason that the ELD law in the US and Europe exists, is to ensure that governments are doing their best to improve working conditions for drivers. Oh yes, and doing their bit for road safety as a result. That's what makes it compulsory for all commercial vehicles to have a logging device installed.

This useful guide from the US department of transport tells you all you need to know about the ELD law. Here are the most important parts of the rule, the US department of transport is trying to achieve:

  • Require ELD use by commercial drivers who are required to prepare hours-of-service (HOS) records of duty status (RODS).
  • Set ELD performance and design standards, and to require ELDs to be certified and registered with FMCSA.
  • Establish what supporting documents drivers and carriers are required to keep.
  • Prohibit harassment of drivers, based on ELD data or connected technology (such as fleet management systems). The rule also provides recourse for drivers who believe they have been harassed.

Where can you do your logging?

In the “old” days, i.e. before December 16, 2019, trips were logged by hand on a logbook, electronically but not automatically. So, how do you log trips now?

Most commonly, logging is done via a smartphone or other wireless device. An ELD app can be installed on a smartphone or other wireless device, as long as that device meets the ELD rule’s technical specifications. This includes being able to access data from the truck’s engine. Also, a portable ELD must be mounted in a fixed position during the fleet vehicle’s operation, and visible to the driver from a normal seated driving position.

You will run into problems if you are not ELD law compliant and are pulled over by the interstate police for a log check. The logging information needs to be quickly available, both to avoid delays on your journey, as well as to avoid the possible suspension of activity. That's if the data is not available for immediate check. Tickets are also issued for overly long drivings, which means unnecessary costs for the business in question.

Trip Logging for driver safety

A viable business is, of course, of paramount importance. All business owners and their fleet managers are running a commercial business to make a profit; that much is true. But driver safety, as mentioned above, comes first.

So then, how can trip logging effect your drivers in terms of their safety and general attitude towards the business? Try some of these for size:

1. Managing trips through a fleet management solution like our very own Veturilo helps you act proactively and provide useful practical advice to your drivers. Perhaps it will prompt you to even create a new or improve existing processes for a pre-run preparation or how to manage rest time best.

2. Compliant drivers are happier drivers. Period.

  • They get the job done quicker
  • They do it without any unwanted or unexpected events or delays
  • A stress-free workflow
  • No tickets from the interstate police
  • Perhaps they even drive their way to a bonus paycheck for top performance/best employee of the year, depending on company policies

Live, laugh, love and… log

The case for compliance with ELD, in terms of trip logging, is a no-brainer, as we’ve discussed above. It’s not just about making sure you are following the law as a business owner or fleet manager. It’s a much bigger issue. An issue of safety, both for drivers and your company, and of efficiency and reputation as a business.

As one of our esteemed colleagues here at Veturilo - who shall remain anonymous, said about trips and trip logging for ELDs, in the realm of fantasy and legends [cue Gandalf meme]:

One rule to log them all, one rule to analyze them,
one rule to shape them all, and in compliance bind them