There are two types of people in the transportation industry, those who hate electronic logs and those who have actually tried them. Recent years have seen a rise in companies willing to offer flexible electronic logging solutions to smaller companies and owner-operators at a competitive price. Paper logs are on their way out and for a good reason. They are inefficient, mistake prone, and rely too heavily on the individual behind them. In this post I’ll walk you through the different e-log options available and the data behind why you should make the switch today.
Device Options For Electronic Logs
In the world of electronic logs you have many different options for the type of device you would like to use. Each device has pros and cons depending on what features you put a lot of stock in, so here is the detailed breakdown of each device:
Laptop Computer and Printer – There’s no denying that having a laptop with you on the road is nice, but as smartphones and tablets become more advanced the laptop loses some of its appeal. The large display is excellent for completing the log page or showing a DOT officer your duty status, but comes at the cost of the overall size of the device. Another issue you may run into is options. There’s really only one program worth downloading to use on your laptop, which makes the investment a little risky if you end up not liking it. I would recommend this option for someone who already has the equipment ready to use and is interested in moving away from paper.
Tablet or Smartphone and Printer – This is by far the most convenient option since most drivers currently carry some sort of smart device. The major advantage to this route is the fact that each program can be tailored to your exact needs. Applications that allow drivers to complete their duty status are constantly being reviewed and updated based on user experience. This is probably the best way to transition from paper to an e-log.
EOBR (Electronic On-Board Recorder) – Fully compliant with FMCSA regulations the EOBR reads data directly from the truck engine. Advantages to this device include full autonomy, less paperwork, and reliable data. You will end up paying for the ease of use, but if you just want to drive and not worry about anything else, this is the way to go.
Programs For Electronic Logs
- Eclipse – By far the most similar to a paper log and makes for an easy transition. Eclipse operates by the user clicking a mouse to draw the lines on a log page. The log time is run off the computer time and will indicate when a driver is in violation of hours of service regulations. Visit www.logbook.com to learn more or start a 30 day free trial. Available for laptop with optional EOBR.
- KeepTruckin – This seems to be our driver preferred program. A very clean design allows for the program to be used without navigating through too many screens, which makes it great for drivers new with technology. The option to use a GPS feature that automatically records your location when changing your duty status is a plus, but not mandatory. Notifications can be used to warn of upcoming violations while driving. Visit www.keeptruckin.com for more details. Available on smartphone or tablet with an optional EOBR feature
- BigRoad – My favorite program out of the bunch. BigRoad uses a main screen to complete the majority of your log, but requires multiple pages to be accessed to be completely legal. This program has the exact same features of KeepTruckin, just presented in a different way. Check them out at www.bigroad.com for details. Available on smartphone or tablet with an optional EOBR feature.
Of course there are plenty more programs currently on the market to try, but these are my favorites. If you take a look at each of these and nothing fits your fancy, try CDL Warrior, Drivers Daily Log, Rand McNally or any other program you can find.
Consider Electronic Logs
The number one reason to consider electronic logs is results. The main issues you run into with paper logs is not keeping them up to date or missing a detail. Of the 100 plus drivers who are currently using these programs with our company, I have never seen a log violation due to a mistake being made, which makes up a large portion of the violations we see. The electronic log serves as a second set of eyes, constantly double checking your work to make sure it is up to standard. Another great feature is the overall appearance of the log. Having sorted through countless log pages, I am well aware that neatness and penmanship are not characteristics possessed by everyone, but with an e-log you can ensure they are. Grid lines are straight, words are typed, and the overall format used during a DOT inspection is designed to help the officer evaluate your log quickly. The final major plus in my eyes is the ability to submit log pages through email. Every program mentioned above allows you to send logs electronically to the office for auditing, ensuring record of their receipt. Quicker communication and less paper should be the ultimate goal for the carrier and contractor alike.