Trucker Tech: What You Need to Know about E-Logs

Not too long ago our truck drivers faced the arduous task of using paper logs to keep track of their daily activities, such as hours driven, length of meal breaks or fuel stops, accidents and breakdowns, and the start and end point of their routes.  Now this cumbersome process has been simplified with our new electronic tracking system.  All of this information is still gathered and recorded, but now it is through our E-Log system, making the process much simpler and more efficient.

What is an E-Log?

An E-Log is a small, computerized device (very similar to the GPS you might have in your personal vehicle) that when installed in the dashboard of a transport truck, records when and where the truck goes, its speed, idle time, and even miles per gallon. 

Our drivers use these systems every day.  After their employee number is entered, the unit will even prompt the driver to ask whether they have performed their pre-trip inspection. Once the vehicle is moving, the driver then presses a “drive” button, which enables the system to begin recording details like the time, speed, and number of miles traveled. 

When the driver stops for a break, to fill up with fuel, or to make a delivery, they simply press a button to alert the unit. This creates the story of that driver’s run for the day, all without ever having to take pen to paper.

Implementation

Each E-Log unit costs approximately $700 and can take several hours to install.  In addition to the fixed cost of the unit, there is a monthly subscription fee of around $50. Our E-Log provider, PeopleNet, has excelled at troubleshooting and support services when necessary, and so far, no major system malfunctions have occurred.

Along with physical installation and implementation, we have developed a hands-on approach to training in regards to the new system to make the adoption immediately effective. However, there are also video tutorials available should re-training be necessary.

Benefits

When used correctly, E-Logs optimize the efficiency of our dispatch and management staff.  All three of our divisions – ETW, ARG, and RIST Transport – use the E-Log system to great effect.  It serves as an interface between the drivers, dispatchers, and terminal managers. For example, as driving hours are automatically logged, a dispatcher can tell at a glance how close a driver is to reaching their maximum hours for the day and make decisions accordingly. The ability to do so prevents violations and tickets in the short term, and in the long term it helps our Carrier Safety Administration (CSA) scores. 

Other benefits are numerous but can include instantaneous knowledge of current location, destination, and arrival times.

Challenges

As with any new process, implementation and adoption of new technology and procedures can be met with resistance, and ours is no exception.  Despite this, once the initial training hurdle was over, many of the drivers who had been initially quite reluctant, had become the system’s biggest proponents.

Don Guay

Don Guay

A 23-year veteran of the New York State Troopers, Don Guay spent six years with the Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit doing roadside inspections. Today, he uses his experience and training to ensure RIST drivers and equipment adhere to the highest standards. As safety manager, Don is responsible for overseeing inspection reports, safety department checks, investigations, and training. He jokes that he left the “dark side” and came to the good side, representing and protecting RIST drivers, our customers and their freight, and the general motoring public. Safety is more than a checklist; it is our top priority.