I consider myself to be one of the most fortunate people in the trucking industry. I’ve been hooked on computers since I took a Grade 12 computer programming class. I was in Grade 11 at the time. Our physics teacher taught the class because the subject was so new.
In trucking, I’ve been here to witness the launch of satellite systems and then electronic logging devices (ELDs).
I remember rolling down the road and hearing talk about satellite systems that would track us like Big Brother. Scary! I joined in with all the other CB Cowboys, insisting the day my boss wanted me to have one of those in the truck, I would throw it out the window.
But, life happens. I started seeing the potential of computers in trucks. The early systems were slow and full of problems. By 2000, I was a fleet manager and I loved the help the systems provided.
I went back behind the wheel and as I got older, hand tremors affected my writing. I had always told my drivers to keep their logbooks neat. When you get inspected, that was the second thing to get checked, after your weight.
If your log is neat and your licence book is tidy, you’ll probably have an easier time. I was having a harder time keeping my logs looking good, due to the tremors. I rewrote them many days because of this.
By 2010, I wanted an electronic system. The early e-logs were junk. They were no different than a paper log because they weren’t tied to the truck or to any GPS. DOT inspectors wanted a copy right away, so it wasn’t an easy transition.
Around 2012, I decided to test as many e-logs as I could. I was still required to hand in my paper logs, so for at least a year I did multiple entries. With my love of computers and a curious mind, I looked for their flaws.
In 2013 my company wanted me to test their integrated e-log system. They called on myself as a tech-savvy person, and another driver who was technically challenged to test them out.
Naturally, I found the flaws and let the office know what to look for. These flaws included ways to cheat the system, because I knew that we as drivers were going to figure that out.
Since 2014 I have used e-logs exclusively, even when not required by the company or the authorities. They have come a long way. They still have some flaws, but I wouldn’t dream of returning to paper. I’ve used them on the ice roads north of Yellowknife, to both coasts and down to the Mexican border.
Since the early days, I was told by other drivers that they wouldn’t use them because they would strand them somewhere or limit the miles they could put on. Really? In what other profession do workers beg for more time at work?
You can come at me with any argument and I will shut it down.
The benefits are real. No longer can my dispatch tell me I can make it somewhere when I don’t have the time. Loading and unloading times can’t be hidden or ignored anymore.
During inspections, there’s no need for math or anxiety about something recorded incorrectly.
Reality comes into play instead of theoretical schedules made by someone who’s never heard of a Jake brake. Driver planning becomes more important, so those who do that well succeed.
Now, for drivers that get messages from their company suggesting they aren’t running close enough to their max time allowed – why are you still there? Seasoned drivers like me get the loads delivered on time on our own schedule.
E-logs have revealed the flaws in how companies are run. Those companies now see how the drivers have saved their reputation over the years. Customers are beginning to understand the issue isn’t the driver as often as it is poor logistical choices made by the company.
So, I suggest drivers use this opportunity to get what we should’ve had years ago. Get paid for your time!
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