Just as anyone orbiting the trucking industry will tell you — electronic logging devices (ELDs) are creating all sorts of upheaval in the world of transportation. Love them or hate them, ELDs are one piece of technology that almost every driver will deal with in the near future. With the FMCSA’s mandate taking effect on December 18th, 2017 drivers in fleets big and small are bracing for the change. Still, there’s a lot of confusion over e logs for owner-operators and what’s involved for small business owners and independent drivers.
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E Logs for Owner-Operators | The Basics
One of the most obvious questions we’ve heard from owner-operators is “what type of device do I need?”
For owner-operators working under contracts, you’ll be instructed to use the brand and model of whatever your motor carrier decides to purchase. Luckily, they will be paying for the device itself and all of the associated fees. This is one of the scenarios where such a transition is likely to go rather smoothly. Most of these devices are rather straight-forward and don’t require a great deal of training to use. Still, the fact that the mandate is taking effect so soon has lots of owner-operators up in arms.
For those working under their own authority, the mandate still requires e logs for owner-operators. In this case, drivers will be responsible for acquiring their own FMCSA-compliant ELDs. Owner-operators must also set up two accounts for the devices; one for the in-cab device, and another for as a fleet manager on the back end. According to the rule, both of these accounts must be separate in order to record the information properly.
While these devices may seem like a hassle to some, there are features which many may find useful. E logs for owner operators provide additional fleet management software options for things like fuel tax reporting and electronic trip inspection reports just to name a few. These features aren’t required by the mandate per say, although more detailed metrics and reporting can provide insights small businesses can take advantage of.
At very least, e logs for owner-operators must record hours of service (HOS) information, including:
- Off time
- Miles traveled
- Date, time, and location
Keeping Devices Connected
While devices must meet these specifications, they won’t require the real-time tracking of drivers. This may put some minds at ease, however, the devices themselves must remain physically or electronically connected to the truck at all times. No matter the type of connection, e logs for owner-operators experience dropouts now and again. Ensuring good cellular connectivity is essential to avoid losing information and incurring fines.
Now to get a little more technical, knowing how to transfer data from one device to the next is critical. For roadside inspection purposes, this data transfer can occur one of several ways.
When transferring data, drivers can:
- Print the record of duty status (RODS)
- Download the info on a USB drive
- Transfer via Bluetooth
- Transfer via Email
Another option is handing the ELD itself to officers for inspection, although hardwired units may not allow this. While real-time transmission is not required, there is a submission range of 13 days for avoiding monthly fees for uploading data.
Consider Finding AOBRDs
Finally, for those currently running Automatic On-Board Recording Devices (AOBRDs) the deadline for transitioning to ELDs is actually December 16, 2019. This is designed to cut some slack for vendors and enforcement officials to sort out the final compliance details. With an additional two years, many owner-operators are already seeking out AOBRDs to avoid the crunch this December.
At this point, it’s highly unlikely this mandate will be pushed aside or delayed at all. The best option for owner-operators is finding the most cost-effective devices that won’t need replacing or updating for many years.
Are you an owner-operator looking for a job or an e log? Let us know in the comments below!