How to use ELD's new data points to your advantage

 How can you use your ELD and GPS data to improve driver safety and productivity? (Photo: Shutterstock)

How can you use your ELD and GPS data to improve driver safety and productivity? (Photo: Shutterstock)

As FreightWaves recently reported, one of the most overlooked aspects of the ELD mandate is less about safety, and more about the opportunities within the massive amounts of data-point aggregating across the sector and the supply chain. Whether you're a driver, an owner-operator, a fleet owner, a carrier, a shipper, a 3PL, or even an insurance provider, there are emerging ways to use your devices to your advantage.

Now that you have ELD, you have a lot of useful information at your fingertips. But how do you use it? Dean Croke, Chief Analytics Officer of FreightWaves, discussed ELDs in sponsorship with FleetLocate by Spireon. Prior to joining FreightWaves Croke was Vice President of Data Products at Spireon where he headed up the development of new high-frequency telematics data products.

Croke also ran Lancer’s long-haul truck insurance business after spending many years as Vice President of Omnitracs Analytics where he developed Data Science technologies including machine learning, complex business rules engines and data analytics for transportation companies. Croke has 35 years of experience in data analytics, transportation, supply chain management, mining and insurance risk management.

Cultural change

Croke says he almost thinks of data as the new oil in that it needs to be drilled down and refined in order to be used for the value it holds. ELD data is becoming a dominant data source in how we manage the transport supply chain.

Typically, about 12% of any fleet of drivers on any given day or night will fall well outside the company’s operational safety parameters -- even while technically falling within the scope of ELD compliance. How can you use your ELD and GPS data to improve driver safety and productivity?

The biggest challenge is the cultural change. ELDs force you to really plan and consider whether the clock is running or not. ELDs can tell you a lot about your customers, whether it be loading or unloading points. Unloading and loading becomes a real data point. Croke sees a change coming in the industry fast on that issue, especially with the inflexible, prescriptive 14 hours of service rule.

Fleet managers

For fleet managers ELDs begin by telling you which drivers are HOD compliant. Also, who are the riskiest drivers? Drivers are both safe and unsafe, often within the same hour. ELD data exhibits risk-taking behaviors, and who are most likely to voluntarily quit and to wreck, and who are the most/least productive. In that regard, it's better to think about miles in each hour rather than MPH. Miles in each hour is more about productivity. Also ELD data can tell you about appropriate/inappropriate speed per conditions.

For fleet managers, ELDs can also be a source against spurious claims, allow for uninterrupted sleep, and plan for home time better. It’s really a cultural adjustment. The lack of flexibility is the main thing you have to adjust to. Once you do that, you’ll probably find it helps you in almost every other way.

Safety versus compliance

You can be 100% compliant and not be safe. About 12% of drivers are operating at high levels of fatigue even with ELDs, according to Croke’s data based upon aggregates of fleets studied.

The average microsleep time is about 5.34 seconds. Drivers often call this “nodding off,” but by the time you pop back up, you’re just reawakening. It’s a really dangerous situation. Most drivers would tell you they have no memory of it. One solution is simply to take 30 minute breaks every eight hours. Unfortunately, the 14-hour clock reduces incentive for drivers to break when tired. Also, many drivers are unable to sleep during the 10 hour break. They may only get about 4.5 hours of restorative sleep. 70-hour work week sees drivers driving at midnight, which is the worst possible time.

Sleep is the real difference-maker. Croke tells FreightWaves that even though he put in over 2 million long-haul miles as a trucker in Australia, he doesn't remember much of it. Why? Because he was so often fatigued. Besides short-term memory, lack of sleep impacts safety across the board. 

Driving training on simply how to fall asleep and get at least 6 hours of sleep through the 10 hours would be helpful for fleets to seriously consider. Studies find that drivers who sleep more are 30% less likely to voluntarily quit, and have dramatically fewer and less serious accidents.

ELDs can provide time stamps of when a driver is driving or performing required vehicle checks and rest breaks. Whatever the case for the reasons of the breaks, you can identify through the data much more specifically what is going on.

Shippers and detention

It also becomes evident where the lowest and highest places of detention are. It can help you schedule better for utilization. 81% of drivers feel pressured to make their next destination after being detained and 32% actually drive considerably faster to make the next destination. This was based on 200,000 drivers. It also found that drivers experience an average of 7 detentions per month. The data from this can help drivers negotiate detention pay.

Freight Pricing

ELDs can help you know which are the most and least efficient lanes. Which lanes have the highest dwell times between laods. Which drivers, trucks and trailers are most productive. Shipents in te 500-700 range that would normally be run in one day with minor adjustments now have to be done in two days. Sales may now need to be priced in terms of one day and two day freight 500 or 1000 mile range.

All of these insights are available from the stream of data on the ELD devices.

For insurance, probably providing 3 months worth of data will help to underwrite your terms. It allows for risk-based driver scores to be used as a price point.

Smart contracts are really getting traction in the industry. With blockchain data ELDs are going to be really transformational. They form a natural connection. ELD data can trigger arrival of a load at a  shipper, triggering automatic payment, payment to the carrier,  plus many other uses, such as vehicle maintenance, FSMA compliance, and cargo theft prevention.

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