I’ve been running on electronic logs for a while now and I have to say, I’m sorry I didn’t get them sooner. Contrary to some of the fear mongering going around, I haven’t lost any money due to lack of miles. I have still made my appointments and still managed to get home as I did before.
You see, nothing has changed. I’m still governed by the same hours-of-service regulations that I was when I ran paper logs. The only difference is that instead of drawing a line, I now push a button. I have actually gained some time here and there.
Instead of logging a 15-minute check-in at a shipper or receiver, or for a trailer switch, I now log the actual time that it takes. More often than not, I’m saving 10 minutes each time I do this and on average I gain around an hour from this each week.
At first I ran paper logs alongside the electronic logs and even using the seven- and eight-minute allowance to my advantage, the electronic log still gave me more on-duty hours to work with.
Their ease of use is another huge plus, in my book. Rolling hours is so simple: no need for calculations, the information I need is all there on the screen. It makes accepting a load so simple.
I key the details into my GPS, find the distance, divide the miles by 80 km/h (my moving average is 88 km/h, according to the GPS), add the necessary time for breaks, fueling and pre-trips, in-trip inspections, etc. and look at the hours I have available. If the numbers work out, I accept the load offer. If not, I can refuse and dispatch will know why. Not that this has ever been an issue, my carrier is very good in that respect.
I have spoken to other drivers about the electronic logs, both friends and strangers. Many of them have asked me about how they can work around them. For example, what happens if you run out of hours 15 minutes from home, or you have a hold-up from weather or traffic, or a delay at a shipper’s? The answer is simple: the hours-of-service regulations haven’t changed.
Just as you could with a paper log, if you run out of hours in a back-up or due to inclement weather, you park at the nearest safe place and add a note to that log explaining why you ran over time. However, these are exceptions and only to be used for genuine reasons. If you have to use them regularly to complete your run, you’re not doing your job very well and are part of the reason that an incorruptible method of recording HoS is deemed necessary by the authorities.
You need to work out how to fit the run into the electronic log, not the electronic log into the run. It’s evolution and you need to roll with it, or become extinct.
A fourth generation trucker and trucking journalist, Mark Lee uses his 25 years of transcontinental trucking in Europe, Asia, North Africa and now North America to provide an alternative view of life on the road.