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ELDs offer many benefits, but eliminating driver fatigue isn’t one of them

 ( Photo: Shutterstock )
( Photo: Shutterstock )


In its simplest form, the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate is designed to replace paper logbooks to better track drivers’ Record of Duty Status (RODS) and ensure compliance with hours-of-service (HOS) requirements. In theory, these rules help improve driver safety and reduce fatigue, while also making the compliance verification process more efficient. It’s a great theory, but as discussed below, fleet managers can’t expect the rule to eliminate driver fatigue.

Fleets have until December 2017 to implement certified ELDs, and as early adopters can testify, there are many operational benefits of these devices. In addition to tracking HOS and vehicle location, ELDs can help increase revenue, reduce paperwork and provide fleet managers with actionable data to improve efficiency. By choosing an ELD that accommodates tracking of drivers, vehicles, assets and trailers, fleet managers can view their entire equipment ecosystem in one place and access valuable data needed to make the best business decisions.

ELDs can help improve the bottom line by pinpointing opportunities to add capacity without further investment. By visualizing potential truck routes to minimize delays, as well as asset and driver utilization rates, companies can tap available downtime to accommodate additional loads. ELDs give fleet managers end-to-end visibility. By proactively optimizing fleet operations with available data and insight offered, fleets can run more efficiently and increase profitability.

Installing these devices and going completely electronic eliminates paperwork and reduces human error. Gone are the days of having to keep track of fuel receipts, tolls, log books and other documents needed for manual reporting. ELDs drastically decrease the amount of unproductive time spent completing RODS and allow drivers to spend more time on the road, logging miles and maximizing their pay—or with their friends and family.

ELDs’ automated reports provide managers with actionable data, including vehicle speed, sudden braking and location. From this, managers gain insight into driver behaviors and habits that may be serious risk factors. Drivers can then be coached to improve upon necessary skills, addressing safety issues before a costly collision occurs.

While there are many benefits to adopting ELDs, it is critically important for fleet managers to keep in mind that compliance with the mandate in no way prevents driver fatigue completely. Just because drivers take the necessary time off in between shifts, doesn’t necessarily mean they are resting or getting enough quality sleep during that time. Remember, a driver can be 100% compliant with their logs, yet be sound asleep at the wheel at the same time.

Companies need to fully analyze the data provided to truly understand driver behavior and patterns. From this, they will be able to compare data such as daytime and nighttime driving and assess the performance associated with each. They will start to determine what schedules are best, and which drivers may need help or schedule adjustments to ensure better quality of sleep and ample rest time—tailored to each individual driver’s needs. Through the combination of ELDs and carefully analyzed data, companies will be better equipped to reduce driver fatigue, and keep everyone on the road safer.

Dean Croke is vice president of data products at Spireon. Spireon is a connected vehicle intelligence company, providing businesses and consumers with insights to track, manage and protect their most valuable mobile assets. You can learn more about Spireon’s products at

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Dean Croke, Chief Analytics Officer, FreightWaves

Prior to FreightWaves, Dean lead Data Science teams at Omnitracs Analytics, FleetRisk Advisors and Spireon in addition to heading up Lancer’s long-haul truck insurance business. He has a strong trucking background in trucking operations, vehicle telematics, data science, business intelligence, data analytics, 24/7 workplace scheduling and human physiology. After pioneering the deployment of the trucking industry’s first predictive models in the mid-2000’s as one of the founders of FleetRisk Advisors, he has developed a specialty in creating operational insights in freight markets using vast data sets and visualization tools to operationalize data. Dean has a Bachelor of Business in Transport and Logistics. Dean’s trucking experience also extends to his days as an over-the-road driver in his native country Australia where in the process of covering over two million miles, he owned and operated some of the largest “road trains” in the world. He was also General Manager of the Australian Trucking Association (ATA) where he played a key role in the development of the TruckSafe and Fatigue Management Program – both alternative compliance programs which have been cited in the FMCSA’s recent “Beyond Compliance” initiative.

One Comment

  1. Nothing can regulate sleep or rest because those occur while off duty while not under the regulation of FMCSA. Many fatalities have been the result of drivers returning to work after not getting adequate rest.
    ELDs cannot eliminate log falsification. Drivers load or unload before or after logging in or out. The ine thing ELDs can do is prevent more than 11 hours driving in a 14 hour period.
    ELDs can also be set up to monitor speed and location 24/7 and give immediate alerts if a set speed is exceeded. The amount of time cruise control is used and incidents of hard braking can be recorded. All this data can lead to a safer and more efficient operation but the data must be used judiciously. Experienced drivers will resent suggestions to change their driving habits and often they have good reason to object. I was notified I was not using my cruise control enough. This was in February when much of my driving was in inclimate weather in Michigan and Canada. I worked in a terminal with 50 drivers. Every month the safety department would email each driver a list of what percentage of time time all the other drivers exceeded the 65 corporate speed limit and what each driver’s high speed had been. It was actually a joke because there were rarely more than 2 or 3 drivers that weren’t on the list.The trucks weren’t owned by the carrier. They were owned by the terminal owner that refused to limit their speed below 70 mph. However, the attitude of corporate safety irritated several drivers to the point where they left. These were drivers with 10 to 15 years experience. I personally retired at the age of 62. Eventually this carrier had to lower their hiring standards to replace the drivers that left.

  2. The 14-hour rule is one of the silliest rules for safety and fatigue. what it does is it forces the driver to come back without taking a rest or going in a sleeper if needed, because his 14 hours is the law, he cannot go over the 14 hours. for example, if he started at midnight his 14 hours is up at 2 p.m.. if he has a 11 or 12 hour day and he is coming back on the 12th or 13th Hour and the driver is tired or fatigued, he cannot pull the truck over and take a two-hour nap because then he would have to stay there 10 hours, nobody wants to do that 1 or 2 hours away from home. so it forces them to keep driving. A simple fix is to bring back the old rule, if you spend 2 hours for more in the sleeper, it prolongs your day. The driver spends two hours in the sleeper, instead of his 14 hours being up at 2 p.m., it will not be up until 4 p.m. this way he gets a two-hour nap, he gets refreshed and is able to bring it in safely.

  3. ELD’s will be a great tool for fleet managers to monitor and maximize profits regardless of driver fitness,fatigue or safety by micro managing from a nice safe warm office with no clue what the driver may be facing in the field…out of hours in so.chicago ? no problem your ELD will keep you safe from gangs and robbers….you can make detroit with your hours but then you’ll have to park on the street at your customer till morning ?? it’s ok most of the time no one will rob you and set your truck on fire with you in it to hide the crime…yeah…this is gonna be great for the drivers…