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The makers of ELDs want their devices to do a lot more than just record hours of service

Three executives with ELD manufacturers see a lot more opportunity in their products than just simply checking on a driver’s hours.

And in the process, it’s possible that drivers might look upon them less as the enemy that is watching their every move from the dashboard of their tractor and more as a tool to provide information that could make their jobs easier.

The three executives–John Verdon, the head of partnerships at KeepTruckin, Doug Schrier, the vice president of product and innovation at Transflo, and Lauren Domnick, the senior director of analytics and modeling at Omnitracs Data & Analytics–spelled out a variety of ways in which the data gathered by ELDs can be the basis for an entire new package of analytics that can actually help drivers, rather than the equipment being seen as restricting their movements.

The three ELD executives were on a panel entitled Data Don’t Care: The Truth Behind the Impact of ELDs, Rates, Regulations and Technology. Brian Reed, FreightWaves executive vice president of supply chain and global strategy, led the panel at the Transparency18 conference in Atlanta earlier this week.

Verdon touched on a theme that had been heard at other times at the meeting: the gathering of data from independent owner operators. Given that their activities in the past had not been part of any fleet that was gathering data, it was like a black hole. “We have not had an idea of what they were doing on regulations,” Verdon said.

Now that the data flow is enhanced by the fact that their ELDs are throwing off information, “that can help us drive efficiencies across the board,” Verdon said. He cited new data streams on their detention experiences and how much time they spend idling their engines, but Verdon said the goal is not just to collect it for the sake of collecting it; rather, he said, it may be able to be used to provide guidance to drivers for any one of a number of activities.

Domnick said one of the best advantages to current ELD technology is that the first six lines of data from the ELDs are all standardized. There may be 300-plus providers of the equipment, but that flow of data is all the same coming out of them, at least from lines 1-6. It has helped Omnitracs build two predictive analytics models, one predicting accident probability and other on whether a driver is likely to voluntarily terminate employment. The ELDs leave “bread crumbs” that can be used for such models, according to Domnick.

Whether the ELD remains just a record of time and other barebones activities, or whether it can be utilized for much more, is largely up to the users of them, Verdon said. “There’s a difference between people who bought a solution and successfully implemented a solution,” he said. Or as Schrier said: “I’ve seen a lot of drivers and fleets go from no ELD to, how do we get the ELD to match our needs?”

Domnick said some of the data has been “eye opening” for the smaller fleets that are just starting to use ELDs and have access to the information coming out of them. For example, she said, drivers operating on a “backward” schedule, with a start time that gets earlier and earlier as their consecutive driving days proceed, are nine times as likely to have an accident than those with a more consistent start time.

With so much focus on ELDs and their impact on forcing drivers to stick to the Hours of Service regulations, it was notable to hear the three panelists talk about how far they think the ELD technology can go in providing information to the trucking industry. “If we can help send them to the right guard shack at a terminal, the right fueling place, all of that turns into more money,” Schrier said. And companies are more willing to invest in them, he added, because the market is so tight.

Schrier said information provided through ELDs on parking, if it can be shared, can help reduce that stress. And he added that the data shows that stress is significant; accident frequency rises as a driver approaches the end of the 11th hour of allowable driving.

Another aid to drivers: the need to show geographic location in the tax considerations of per diems can be aided by ELDs.

One trick to fully maximize the data use is its visibility through sharing. All three panelists expressed cautious optimism that such sharing would develop–Verdon mentioned blockchain technology as providing a possible assist with visibility–and said their customers can now share data with whoever they want, such as their brokers and 3Pls. But that isn’t a tool for sharing among the entire industry.

And if the FMCSA does look to revise HOS rules, data provided by ELDs can assist that process, according to Schrier. “With more data it will be a whole lot easier to write the right regulations and make the right calls,” he said.

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John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.

One Comment

  1. Careful people. Information has become weaponized… All that info. wouldn’t be long before enforcement types would want to take a peek.

  2. They say all this to butter the eld up which is fine and dandy but my question is what are they gonna do to the shippers and receivers to keep all bs they are saying on track so everyone can keep rolling as smooth as they want it to but honestly I see the eld turning into a flop because in my book I don’t see how they can make this a one size fits all across the board

  3. If you want to do some good fix the ELD’s so the drive clock doesn’t count down while we are off duty at a shipper or consignees since most of them have us sitting in a dock door for up to 4 hours.

  4. Brian, the clock only stops when you do an 8 hr, 10 hr break or are completely off the clock such as restarts or vacations or day offs. Otherwise, your 14 keeps ticking away.

    And by law you are supposed to be on duty not driving when you are at a shipper or receiver. And because of the 14 hour rule it’s pointless to show sleeper or off duty any how.

    I say do away with mandatory eld, and make it so the 14 hr clock can be stopped. With that said, these yahoos in corporate don’t have a clue about what they are talking about. Their train of thought is not reality. Especially for independents like me. I’m just glad my truck is exempt. I don’t like where this eld garbage is going.

  5. Sounds like using the devices to micro manage drivers, also a new basis to eliminate drivers, based on data collected.

  6. If they would truly be concerned about the driver they would have done all this before ELD went into effect. It’s a money game. Yes they can do so much more, but by God they will charge the company’s or owner operator for any addition apps.
    Just fooling the fools. Strike and get it over with. Take back the roads.
    Drivers who can read and write English. Know what the signs mean. Dispatched in a reasonable amout of time. Put the blame on who is responsible. Dispatch. People who don’t drive for their livelihood have know idea. STRIKE TAKE BACK THE HIGHWAYS

  7. They want to do something to make our experience better? Like monitor our idle time and tell us what we can do to reduce it? Let’s try this, you sit in the office and do your job and let me do mine.
    By the way, if you really want to do something to help me have a better experience give me free WiFi so I can watch Netflix and unwind after a long day.

  8. I think the whole track the driver track the truck is a load of crap. What other industry are you limited on the number of hours you can work? I’ve worked oilfield and it’s 24/7 sometimes 30 hours without sleep. Guess the big companies get the exemption from all the ELD garbage. I believe that if left alone to manage our time on our own with no 14 hour clock or any other government over reach, as well as the corporate cronies at the ELD companies, we as adults will get the rest we need from day to day and perform our jobs safely. That being said, there will always be that one that don’t sleep on their break time or someone who’s rushing to make delivery or pick up that will make a mistake.
    Doctors make misdiagnosis every day and people die, people drink and drive and people die, people drive an hour or more to work the work 12,14,16 hour days and drive an hour home and people die. Big companies already run ELDS and still they cause people to die. Show me where this whole fiasco makes anyone any safer! Show me how it causes owner operators to make more money! Tell me why with the ELD mandate that certain truck stops all of a sudden charge $18 a night to park! Tell me why since this all started fuel prices have continued to go up! Tell me how spending my hard earned money to pay for a service that I and countless others don’t want helps my bottom line! The only ones making money off the ELDS are the cronies who manufacture them and the government officials they paid off to pass this mandate! The whole thing was and always will be about money and never was or will it ever be about safety. It doesn’t take an ELD to tell that a tired driver is more likely to be involved in an accident (that’s common freaking sense), it doesn’t take an ELD to figure out that a pissed off driver is more likely to quit their job( that is also common sense), it doesn’t take an ELD to see that shippers and receivers are taking advantage of Trucking companies and drivers by holding trucks for long periods and either not paying detention or paying extremely low rates ( drivers have been complaining about this for yeas all you have to do is listen). Detention time should start at your appointment time if not being unloaded not 2,3,4 hours later! What other industry has their employees come to work at said time and not pay them starting at that time? All of these educated idiots making rules and regulations for the trucking industry know nothing about how we live life on the road! Dispatchers go home at 5pm and come in at 8am. Some don’t answer calls at night and the industry is flooded with college kids that have never been in a truck. How many of the government officials that make these laws have ever been behind the wheel of a truck? Unless prior military and not all of them probably 0%! So don’t try to piss down my back and tell me it’s raining! I’m not buying into this money game !!!

  9. As i am reading this im sitting in walmarts wharehouse parking lot for 7.5 hours and still not unloaded!!! And you know walmart doesnt pay detention time! And now my clock has run out and they wont let you sleep on property so now i have to run illegal and try and find a parking spot in the closest truck stop at 2am! How the hell you think that turns out? Well if they cant get me unloaded with in 90 min of appointment time it should be 125 per hour! You cant tell me it takes almost 8 hours to unload a trailer!!! They need to hire more people or pay detetion!!

    1. Actually, if they take that long, just stay there and finish your 10. If they come out insisting that you leave, tell them "Fuck you! Call the bears to come ESCORT my ass out, since y’all milked my clocks down!"

      Chances are that they will just leave you there to finish, because if they take that long and try to compel you to leave, they can incur a $15,000 fine. They are the reason your clocks are dead, and they know it.

  10. As a driver of a 33 yr carreer, with not as much of a fender bender, all over the road, I’m driving more fatigued and tired than ever. The eld has taken away my own limitations as a long distance driver, and now am forced to operate as the eld wants me too, not as I can do in my own safe manner. It’s a joke. We aren’t machines. It’s logging the truck, not me. Drivers are racing the clock, turning up trucks to go faster, doing unsafe things on highway when they normally wouldn’t have to. Construction, weather, accidents, and the unforseen events that slow driver’s down to make appointment times or get home to family’s have not be considered. My personal opinion on your so called eld mandate is stick it in your ass. You made the highways twice as unsafe. Way to go guys. Leave it up to the drivers to their job in a safe manner, not the way you think it should be done. We aren’t robots. We are just hard working people, who all gave different limits on how to operate safely on the highways. All it does it keep a driver on the road longer, more fatigued, and longer away their families. Maybe the eld makers should actually drive long distance in a truck before trying to make the unsafer than ever. You wanna make the highways safe? Get the electronics out of the vehicles instead of adding more distractions to driver, such as watching a eld clock for 11 hrs a day. Get the cell phones out. That’s how you’re gonna save lives, the the trucker do his job.

  11. Once again classic example of people that don’t know the job will assist people that don’t know the job. To mess it for the people that do know the job. For eld makers it’s nothing but a cash cow. They will now sell their data to big companies as analytical tool and to the GOVT. In return. It will continue to kill that single owner operator and you are left with only mega carriers.

  12. Why not have a line for detention time? Driver enter the appointment time at the start of the trip. ELD record how long at that location. Also raise the slow roll speed sparking spot opens up. You where parked at a noise location, the new opening is quite, if you go over 5 miles an hour it kicks in that you are working. Instead of repositioning to get better or just be able to get to sleep.

  13. This system is been providing for people who doesn’t really know industry it it really is they not even know how to drive a truck and the life this is thing is another is King just to make money out of the truck industry or any other companies like the government this is not for this time because there’s no including the waiting time delivery time traffic time because we can be waiting for 5 hours or more like they always do a lot of people going to fall down with the business and lost a lot of jobs and this is the only affecting to the poor people like always do

  14. I will say I’m a new driver. Been out here 5 months. I can’t even imagine what these damn ELDs are like for seasoned drivers. They are crap as well as the 14 hr rule and the 60/7 or 70/8. My Company runs 7 days a week. It sucks when we have to run our asses off the get to apt on time and by the end of the week be forced to stop. I’ve had to wait up to 9 hrs at shippers and receivers then kicked off when I was out of hours. Of course they always say there’s parking just down the street and when you get there you see No Parking signs every 10 ft. I’ve made my own decision to stop if I’m tired and of course loose precious time on my 14 hr clock. No damn machine can tell us when we’re tired. Give us 14 hrs a day everyday and stop the damn clock at shippers and receivers. Force Walmart and these other big companies the make us wait to start paying after 2 hrs. It would also be helpful to have better apt times. Example tomorrow I unload at 7 am and reload in a different city at 7 pm. How in the hell do we make our clocks work with those times. There is no way we can stay to a set schedule so why make our clock so set in stone. Also start cracking down on the 4 wheel drivers that cause 80% of all Big Rig accidents instead of also trying to put the blame on the truck drivers. It would also be helpful to a mandate that all load Schedulers, dispatchers, safety directors etc. have to spend at least a month over the road with a truck driver as training before they can start their job. Maybe then we’d get our scheduled time off and wouldn’t be given stupid schedules to keep. Or like me being told I have roll 32hr into my 34 hr reset because a load has to be there or pay a fine. The whole damn thing from HOS to ELDs should be set up and controlled by Truck drivers, not a bunch of idiots who only care about making money and making our job harder and thankless than it already is. You could even include a minimum wage per mile, like every other job is. Without us this country wouldn’t have shit. Pay us what we’re worth and stop messing us around. All this BS is why there is a driver shortage and why 75% or more new drivers quit within their first year.