Electronic logs will raise professionalism, rates

by Mark Lee

I’m going back in time this new year. I finished my last ever log book at the end of December and now a little box of electronic magic will be drawing my lines for me, much the same as the tachograph did throughout my 22 years of trucking in Europe. I’m actually looking forward to using the electronic logging device (ELD) as it won’t be a hindrance whatsoever to my working day.

Time spent sitting there scratching my head and tapping buttons on a calculator to figure out what hours I have left to work will be replaced with the general simplicity of hitting a button when I stop.

The introduction of ELDs was one of the big reasons I chose to sign on with the carrier I’m with. There is no forced dispatch. We are sent a load offer, not a dispatch, and if it cannot be completed on time and legally, then we refuse the load on those grounds and dispatch will either reschedule or put another truck on the load. There is no coercion or “persuasion” – if it can’t be done legally, then it doesn’t get done at all.

I’m hoping that the introduction of the ELD mandate raises the game a little; well, a lot actually. Not just eliminating the cowboy element, but also at shippers and receivers, who will know we no longer will be able to make up for delays in the supply chain.

So, companies will have to get their ducks in a row and not use our trailers as warehouses on wheels.

Obviously in the real world this will be difficult to achieve, but carriers will now have an electronic record of delays to use as a bargaining tool for waiting time, which will hopefully see compensation get passed on to the driver.

For me this part is irrelevant as I already get paid waiting time, but there are many that don’t and if it becomes standard practice, it can only make things better.

Another potential benefit and possibly the biggest of all is that it opens the door for hourly pay. Now, this is going to cost more, no doubt about that, especially when you consider that legally there should be an overtime rate for hours worked over a set amount.

Maybe even a higher rate for weekend working, you know, just like they do in almost every other industry in the civilized world. Yes, this will cost more, but seeing as though when you take inflation into account, we’re charging less per mile now than we were 10 or 20 years ago, that is a long overdue shake-up. Not only have rates not kept up with inflation, equipment costs have increased significantly with the 18-wheel supercomputers that we now use to haul freight.

I recently posted on a Facebook page in reply to a question about low rates. My response was that transport is seen as a commodity, rather than a service, and I believe that the use of ELDs will help turn this ridiculous situation around.

I’m not talking about using them as a weapon, but their use will allow carriers to sit down with customers and show them exactly what it entails to move their freight from A to B and how much it all costs in the real world.

Every carrier out there will be playing by the same rules, so shippers will have no choice but to listen. Rates and wages will increase and conditions will improve. This will make the industry an attractive proposition once more and it could help solve the problem of an aging driver pool. Nobody will be making a Smokey and the Bandit movie about a driver running an ELD in a speed limited autoshift truck, that’s for sure, but really let’s be honest.

When has driving a truck been anything like that anywhere but the truck stop lunch counter?


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.

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  • Well your comparing to Europe doesn’t work. The speed limiters don’t work as I see more accidents then ever. Auto shift specially in the winter causes problems. Maybe we need to concentrate on better driving school system. With this wonderful ELD that works with large carriers with terminals close enough to be with in hours of service. What happens when you get delayed by customs, road closures due to weather and accidents. Does driver deserve a proper safe haven to stop with facilities like proper restrooms and access to good food. After 42 years trucking thank you very much but I won’t be part of this new era I’ll go drive a forklift be home every night and hell with your log book. There is part of this industry that will not be able to adjust because the clients will not pay the extra rates. This will cause problems in many way and the industry will never be the same.

  • So ELD are the answer eh? Boy are we being sold a load of BS? Truck will just stop working at 14 hrs look out traffic jams? Trucking companies will still shut off the ELD in order to get a load they require? If you can’t subtract 14 from 24 or know a basic idea how many hrs you got left? Then you must be driving an automatic cause a 15 speed is way past your math skills! Give me a break

  • I have used both major ELD types and when it comes to ease of use they both work well. They also eliminate alot of questions at the local DOT hut.I don’t think most shippers understand the restrictions that they place upon the “old ways”of doing things.Gone are the days of endless waits at the dock or even just in time B.S.The ELD doesn’t care about weather or traffic or human imperfection.The load will live or die at the whim of a mechanical device,legislated to control the chaos that ruled the highways and biways of our lives.Once in a while,I go 10 or 15 minutes over and am rudely reminded in the most mechanically effective manner possible.I guess it’s just the rebel in me.

  • It must be nice to be able to live in LaLa land, here in the real world it don’t work that way. Mega trucking company drivers will always be used as a rolling warehouse. You will never be paid by the hour for over the road by the big company’s as long as they can do what they want. Big company’s use their trailer pool to get contracts, and electronic logs is not for safety, compliance or anything other than a electronic time clock, so that dispatch can know how many hours you really have available, because drivers that where tired or not feeling good would say they was out of hours. But under the name of safety you can no longer lie because you don’t feel like driving 300 miles.

  • “especially when you consider that legally there should be an overtime rate for hours worked over a set amount.”

    there is legality around being paid overtime–at least in ontario:

    there are a host of barely legal activities the industry undertakes to short drivers….most of the problem however lies in that the Ministry of Labour, unlike the Canada Revenue Agency, doesn’t have the teeth to enforce matters…..anyone with a lick of self-confidence won’t stick around long if they are being underpaid, paying for maintenance and repairs as ‘independent contractors’ although they bring nothing to the yard but a business number–the truck, the insurance in the company name, the loads picked by the company and forced dispatch too…

    that aside, those are some great points raised by the writer and i would hope that mandatory ELDs will bring about some of that bargaining power.

    as for the drivers who are saying, ‘sayanora’ because their nose is out of joint about having their time on the road more mandated….well, don’t let the door hit your backside on the way out…crusty old super truckers such as yourself are part of the reason why we are being mandated(87% of accidents involving a tractor trailer are driver fatigue according to the FMCSA)–the amount of drivers running paper out here and are running hugely illegal(sometimes forced by their companies if they want to keep a job)is immense…drivers running 36 hours straight, keeping three logbooks(daytime/nightime and one for the company)–looking like Death and think you’re living high…SEE YOU IN THE OLD AGE HOME! if you make it that long.

    and what a piece of misinformed rot of the poster above who foretells that the truck will just stop at the 14th hour…it doesn’t–how would that be safe? duh. you receive a violation and the company receives a violation, the ministry receives notice of such–i’m not sure what happens after x amount of violations…. also, it’s a computer for crying out loud–the real tablet that doesn’t forget what happens–so a company shutting off(or a driver unplugging)the ELD will have that recorded anyway and there had best be a reason for it. it takes many ‘wipes’ to clear hard drives but that doesn’t mean that there’s not more than one hard drive with the info on it that you aren’t privy to. LOL–ice age truckers….

    anyhow, i can handle a 13 speed pretty darn well so bring on the 15 speed old timer….

  • ELD’s- the safety fix all. Professionalism- that is a good one. The large carriers who pushed this idea are the ones that are hiring drivers that can’t fill out a paper logbook and are living like rats on the road. Last year at one of my stops, a receiver ask me where my shorts, flip flops and stretched out T-shirt was. He proceeded to tell me”that is about all we see any more”. I recently spoke to a DOT trooper about all this, and he said it is amazing the numbers of “logbook” violations that they are issuing to drivers/companies that are using ELDs. In the 30 years that I have been doing this, I have had my paper logs audited by DOT, scoured through by roadside inspectors and they say “have a good day and drive safe”.
    My paper has never had a technical malfunction or needed a software upgrade. For those that don’t know this. If you do have a unit failure, you have to recreate a paper log for that day if you continue running. Good luck retracing your steps. Oh, did I mention, my paper has NEVER had a malfunction. Run legal, use your head. The only thing that ELDs are doing for me is costing me more money to operate and reduced productivity. PERIOD. For the larger companies I can see the management of a lot of units, but for the smaller guys, not so much. The issue of parking needed to be addressed before this was implemented.

  • Not sure how you compare the UK to here. eld’s are not for the professionalism. You are the professional not that black box. You stop when you need to. Nobody can force you to work when tired. If they try you are working at the wrong place!!!!

  • If ELD is wanted by US regulators than after 8 hours I want 1 1/2 plus extra for weekend and holidays.
    Lets say to translate everything in hours of production and not per mile or load.
    I want to see how Brokers justify their super LOW….LOW…LOW rate that is offered today.

  • I think these devices would see a lot less opposition if the window time per day issue was revisited in the hours of service. Those of us who travel to the same list of destinations frequently could sometimes use a little flexibility in the window time when unexpected weather or traffic snarls mess up a typical schedule. As far as wanting to be able to somehow work more hours per day without penalty, what’s wrong with these people??!! If 13-14 on-duty hours per day isn’t enough for you to make a living, you work for the wrong company, or you aren’t a very productive worker. In either case, working more than 14 hour days to survive is stupid.

  • 14 hours a day is plenty.
    14hrs x 4 days =56hrs
    44hrs @ $26.00 =$1144.00
    12hrs @$39.00 =$468.00 (time and half)
    Total $1612.00 for four days.
    These rates by the hour ELDs ok.

  • I am so tired of reading this Mark guy over the years tell us how wonderful things are in Europe… If its so great over there, what the hell are you doing here. You like all the Europeans before you trotted over here for a better way of life (ie freedom), and then you proceed to drag your big government rules and crap with you. Tell me Mark, are all your European trucker buddies “living the dream” with their big brother speed limiters, and ELD’s and whatever other garbage is rammed down their throats. Are they all these “well paid professionals” you talk about in some fantasy fashion? I highly doubt it. I’d gladly return to driving again if I could make a living like we did in the bad old “cowboy days” of the 70’s & 80’s. By the way, when I grew up cowboys were heroes, ironically truckers were looked upon that way as well at one time (coincidence…hmmm). Now we’re all told to “COMPLY”, like a bunch of gutless lemmings or prisoners on a chain gang.

    Hey Mark, why don’t you put as much effort in to convincing government to have truckers paid by the ELD (hourly plus OT) as you do trying to convince everyone how wonderful they are.

  • E-logs will only work if you can slit the sleeper berth as the truck driver sees fit. The drivers need to be paid hourly at twice the min. wage on payroll or 115 % of that rate to a corp plus overtime after 10 hours a day on duty. Many truckers today if a young person asked about driving a truck. They tell them to go into a different line of work 6479692135