It has been over 18 months since electronic logging devices (ELDs) were made mandatory in the United States. Several reports have been written since regarding the learning curve that drivers had to go through to get accustomed to the new equipment and the regulations that governed their daily driving time. This has been particularly hard on many smaller fleets, because ELDs were quite modern compared to the archaic fleet management solutions that were in popular use.
The next chapter of the ELD regulation is around the corner, with hundreds of thousands of fleets that run automatic on-board recording devices (AOBRDs) mandated to phase them out and replace them with the technologically advanced ELDs by December 16, 2019. This will result in around 2-2.5 million trucks upgrading from their AOBRDs to the ELDs, while thrusting a couple of million drivers into an existential need to navigate ELD interfaces before continuing work.
Telecommunications giant AT&T has been a frontrunner in the ELD market, helping transportation companies become ELD-compliant both with the hardware and with getting drivers up to speed on operating the device. FreightWaves connected with David Van Dorselaer, general manager of industry solutions at AT&T, to discuss the impact of ELDs in the trucking industry and AT&T’s part in easing the transition process.
Van Dorselaer explained that ELDs were primarily intended to help improve driver safety on the road, while automating the process of recording driving hours. “The ELD makes it easier and safer for the drivers because it takes away some of the manual processes for compliance. For example, an ELD logs the driver in “driver status” when they reach 5 miles per hour. In the past, drivers had to manually put themselves into driver status,” he said.
That apart, ELDs help make inspections easier for federal and state Department of Transportation (DOT) officials. Data shows that hours of service (HOS) violations have dropped by more than half of the levels recorded on December 18, 2017, and are continuing to fall. “With AT&T Fleet Management for Enterprise, we offer tablets that the driver can electronically record and share their records of duty status (RODS) data for inspection. Now the driver can hand a DOT officer a tablet with their logs versus having to hand over paperwork,” said Van Dorselaer.
Van Dorselaer cited the example of Dupre Logistics, a transportation and logistics provider that worked with AT&T to modernize its telematics and driver workflow solution for its crude oil hauling division. Dupre runs more than 750 trucks on American roads, and provides dedicated truck hauling, site logistics and freight brokerage.
“Dupre managers first came to us because it was having trouble with ELD compliance for its crude oil division. Drivers that went out to remote service locations to deliver sand, check oil, quality of sediment and liquid, had trouble adequately recording their hours of services because of lack of network coverage in some of these remote service locations,” said Van Dorselaer. AT&T provided a solution in which the truck’s run-time data was stored within the tablet and forwarded to the cloud once the vehicle reached an area with adequate network coverage.
“There is a learning curve for drivers with the new ELD technology. It is a big shift moving from the old, clunky, proprietary hardware they had in the past to a new and modern tablet,” said Van Dorselaer. “They have to learn new ELD workflow processes and adapt to the application-based tablet environment. They are also concerned with the time it takes to log hours of service, because in their eyes every minute not on the road is money out of their pocket.”
AT&T trains the drivers to use the ELD solution, which makes it easier for drivers to key in information and manage workflows. The AT&T fleet management system takes in data from a multitude of sources including the engine, drivetrain, instrument cluster and other subsystems, which are translated into reports and recommendations.
“Dupre came to AT&T because it wanted to modernize its processes with a more cost-effective driver management solution. Our solution helps the company to better track and manage its fleet, improve its drivers’ work environment, speed up its processes and improve its customer service, all while staying ELD-compliant,” said Van Dorselaer.