10 Myths About ELDs

It is common for several myths to accompany the introduction of new technology and regulation. With so much information out there about the ELD Mandate, it can be a challenge to decipher the truth from the rumors.

We tackle a few of the most common myths we’ve heard about ELDs and the ELD Mandate below to help you get to the truth.

Myth 1. ELD Devices Will Close The Businesses of Owner/Operators

The FMCSA received several comments regarding this fear during the stakeholder comments period of the ELD Mandate. Most of the fears that ELDs will spell the end for Owner/Operators stem from:

  • Apparent high costs of ELD solutions
  • A potential reduction in driving hours for drivers
  • Inability to circumvent the strict application of HOS limits.

So, is it true that ELDs can owner/operators to close their businesses?

The Fact: ELDs help owner/operators save money in the long term. Drivers love electronic logging devices and don’t want ever to see a paper logbook again once they’ve gotten a taste of an ELD.

Also, most drivers report that ELDs have increased their driving time because of the accurate nature of the logs they produce. ELDs do not have to round up to the nearest 15 minutes like paper logbooks. This can add a few minutes to a driver’s driving time.

Myth 2. ELDs Cost Too Much to Implement

Two decades ago, owners were paying upwards of $2,000 per electronic logging device. Drivers at that time saw the benefits of having an electronic logging system that reduced the need for paperwork, made it easier to communicate with drivers on the road, and increased driving time.

So, do today’s ELD devices cost too much?

The Fact: Today’s ELD devices cost considerably less than their predecessors, thanks to the wider availability and improvement in technology. Providers don’t need to manufacture elaborate devices because of smartphones and tablets. In addition, devices are generally much cheaper than they were back in the days.

The FMCSA predicts that it will cost between $160 to $830 per year per truck to comply with the requirements of the ELD Mandate. The cost of acquiring an ELD is insignificant when compared to other expenses in the trucking industry. ELDs will save you significant amounts of money in the end.

Myth 3: Driver Must Constantly Interact With the ELD Device Whiles Driving

People who are against the ELD Mandate often claim that ELDs require the driver to make frequent interactions with the device when driving.

The Fact: This is not true.

Drivers will not need to touch the device once the vehicle starts rolling from the point of origin. Drivers perform a brief setup before they embark on their journey. The driver must input their Off-Duty or Sleeper Berth status – which cannot, and should not be set automatically.

ELD devices can automatically determine Driving and On-Duty Not Driving Status once the driver starts driving.

The only interaction between the driver and the device when driving is the alerts the ELD gives to the driver about the HOS status. It frequently informs the driver of their remaining time, so don’t drive beyond their HOS limits.

Myth 4: ELD is a Spy Tool

One of the features of many ELD solutions is location tracking, which lets fleet owners know the exact locations of vehicles in their fleet. Some drivers fear this can be used to spy on them by anybody.

That is far from the truth. ELDs do not create a big brother situation, and only authorized staff working for the business can access location data.

The Fact: The rules of the ELD Mandate makes provisions for privacy, which protects drivers. For instance, if the driver is using the truck for off-duty personal use, location information only reveals the vehicle’s location within a 10-mile radius. This means no one will know the exact location of the vehicle, but they can only tell that the vehicle is somewhere within a 10-mile radius.

The Department of Motor Transport will not have access to your exact location data. They only need to know the distance and time you’ve driven for audit purposes.

Myth 5: ELDs Will Snitch Automatically to the Authorities if You violate HOS

No, the system never sends automatic updates of your HOS status to law enforcement. Law enforcement can only see violations during a roadside inspection or an audit by the FMCSA.

The Fact: ELDs were introduced to record accurate data and improve safety. It was not introduced to send automatic reports to law enforcement, and not a single device does that. It can inform the driver if they get close to violating HOS, and it can also generate audit reports about violations for fleet managers.

In fact, one of the most significant benefits of an ELD is that it makes it easier and quicker to pass roadside inspections. Inspectors can connect to the device and finish with their inspection within a few minutes or even seconds. Drivers save time and get back on the road quicker.

ELDs save a lot of time during audits as well by generating reports and paperwork faster.

Myth 6: ELDs Offer No Safety Improvements

Some naysayers believe the safety improvements touted by ELDs are a myth. For starters, the ELD device has zero control over your vehicle. It doesn’t limit speed, watch your following distance, or monitor lane surfing. These devices only help improve dispatch efficiency by letting dispatchers know their driver’s HOS status. Such dispatching decisions, based on a driver’s HOS status, can improve driver safety by taking tired drivers off the road.

The Fact: Reports from the FMCSA show that drivers that use ELDs have a significantly lower accident rate than those that do not.

Myth 7: ELDs Can Shut a Truck Down Mid-Trip

The Fact: This assertion is inaccurate.

The ELD device can inform the driver if they are getting close o violating their HOS limit. However, the device can’t cut off your engine even if you drive beyond your HOS limit. It is entirely up to the driver when to stop. The device will record your infractions but can’t take over your truck.

Myth 8: ELDs Reduce Your Profits

This is a popular myth among ELD naysayers. Most people only talk about the costs and ignore the benefits when discussing money concerning ELDs.

The Fact: Most fleets will see an increase in profit when they switch from paper logbooks to an electronic logging device. This is because most ELD solutions come with an array of tools designed to optimize your business and save you money while increasing productivity.

ELDs can log sharp accelerations, speeding, hard braking incidents, excessive idling, and other driver activities. You can then use this information to identify which drivers need training and performance improvement. Drivers who learn to avoid such driving behaviors can save fuel and time, which equates to better efficiency.

ELD solutions may also come with a mapping and routing feature, which helps drivers avoid obstacles like traffic, narrow bridges, construction zones, and dead ends. This information can help cut down on unnecessary mileage, which saves on fuel and time.

Most importantly, ELDs can help you optimize your entire fleet to save time and deliver more loads. All of these (and we’ve not even touched on the time and money saved on reducing the need for paperwork) translate into lower costs and improved profits.

Myth 9: Owner-Operators Are Not Required to Use ELDs

Trucking businesses with large fleets know the benefits of using an ELD device very well. Most of them have improved their CSA scores and lowered their operating costs significantly. Smaller fleets are now seeing these benefits as well.

The Fact: The ELD Mandate does not offer exemptions for owners of small fleets. It doesn’t matter if you only have 1 truck or 5,000 trucks, you’ll need to install an ELD if you’re required by the DOT to file RODS.

Owner/Operators with small fleets do not need to spend big to comply with the ELD Mandate. Some solutions cost very little and can provide immediate benefits. Check out our review of the best ELD devices for owner-operators.

Myth 10: I only Need a Smartphone With an App to be Compliant

While you can buy an electronic logging App onto your smartphone or tablet to record your HOS, such a setup is not compliant with the ELD Mandate. You need a device that connects to the vehicle’s engines and record data. It is the fundamental requirement of the ELD Mandate.

The Fact: Your smartphone’s or tablet’s GPS is not an accurate means of recording distance traveled. You will fail an audit if you only intend to use such a setup for ELD compliance.

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