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Perspectives of an e-Log Naysayer

By on November 1, 2017

38-year Veteran Driver Discovers ELD Pluses

Perceptions of e-log naysayers can differ widely from the realities of drivers who are actively engaged in using electronic logging devices (ELD). What does it take to make a believer out of a naysayer? To learn about the obvious pluses, and some others that are less tangible, read on.

David Hare started driving big rigs, intrastate in TEXAS, when he turned 18. That was 38 years ago. Of his four company affiliations, he outgrew the geographic limitations of the first after three years, lost a 27-year job he really liked due to the business closing, and opted out of a third situation that made way too many family unfriendly service demands. His professional career took a big turn for the better six years ago when he signed on with Wright Transportation headquartered in Mobile, AL.

Not only was David comfortable with paper logs for 36 years; he always did his job effectively, was never late, and never had a DOT violation. He had been DOTed dozens of times, and passed every inspection, including his meticulously prepared paper logs. Sure, he may have fudged a bit here and there or gone the extra mile to meet a shipper’s or receiver’s delivery requirements, but he was as straight as anyone having his behind-the-wheel tenure could be.

David didn’t see any need to complicate his life with e-log intrusions and unwelcome connections to the digital world. He didn’t like the thought of being monitored and controlled by others. He knew how to do his job, and did it very well, thank you. When Wright Transportation started moving to e-logs in January 2016, David acknowledges he was ducking and hiding. His dispatcher reminded him to bring his truck to Mobile several times, but he had no shortage of foot-dragging excuses. By March, however, his truck needed scheduled service, and along with it, he knew the reality of ELD installation was staring him in the face.

Almost Walked Awayelog3

In the months leading up to that day, David had been telling his dispatcher that he would probably quit when an ELD was installed in his truck. Concerned about potential revenue losses, he had similar conversations with his wife, who just happens to be involved in the medical profession. She has provider-side experience with the transition to computerized medical records. The dispatcher and his wife encouraged him to give e-logs a try. They asked, “Why walk away from a 36-year career in haste? Why abandon doing something you love over something you don’t even know anything about?” So he stayed.

With truck service complete, a Rand McNally TND™ 760 Fleet Management & Compliance System installed, and some basic instruction provided, David had until the end of the next week to play with his new device before going live. It seemed easy sitting there at the terminal and playing around with the unit’s capabilities. However, David didn’t even get out of the yard, and the unit was beeping and telling him he was out of hours. He didn’t know what to do. It seemed as though his worst fears were actually coming true.elog3

Less Than a Week

David muddled through the 60-mile bobtail trip home. Over the course of that first weekend, he spent about six hours on Saturday reading and understanding system operation as described in the TND™ 760 instruction manual, and two hours on Sunday rereading and cross checking key information. Transferring his newfound knowledge to time on the road, he set out on Monday for a week of trial and error. In a matter of days, things made sense. The beeping and visual warnings quickly stopped. By the end of the week, he had mastered system operation and could see how it might even be helpful. Eighteen months and 198,000 miles later, David feels comfortable about sharing his perspectives with you.

elog2“Whether I liked it or not, I accepted that electronic logging will be the law of the land on December 18, 2017,” says David. “There’s no reason to fight it; it is what it is. With considerable experience under my belt, I know that e-logging is what I have to do to stay out of trouble. Lack of computer experience isn’t a problem. If you can push the buttons on your phone to make a call or access an app, operating the TND 760 is a piece of cake. As long as your weight is right, you can’t make a mistake. You just have to answer simple questions and pay attention to the visual prompts and audible warnings. Starting from a very negative mindset, I quickly progressed to acceptance. Though still not a big fan of the MAP-21 legislation, I’ve actually developed an appreciation of e-log’s ability to improve my life on the road.”

What David Learned

“Everything needed to comply is right before me on the TND 760 display,” continued David. “The system takes all of the guesswork out of service hour compliance. Everything is accurately recorded. I have a running 8-day record and know time remaining: to my next 30-minute break, to drive 11 hours within 14, to reach the 34-hour reset, and to arrive at a fresh 70. When DOT inspectors see you’re on ELD, they frequently tell you, ‘You’re good. Go ahead.’ The three times my e-log has actually been inspected, all they need to see is eight days of solid blue and a bill of lading. The process is simple and much faster.

“You may have to change some habits The tool helps better plan your days, trips and stops. I’ve established a better driving pattern, a better rhythm. I’m sleeping 7-8 hours daily, have time for a shower and a hot meal, grab a coffee, refuel and relax. The major truckstops and Walmarts are shown. Dispatchers have to respect your hours of service. When I arrive at home, I’m more refreshed and better able to enjoy my time off the road. While some shippers and receivers are prone to let you rot in their lots, many others are showing a new respect for my time when live loading or unloading. You may be surprised about the many pluses related to ELD utilization.

“If you’ve been procrastinating or sitting on the fence, now is the time to evaluate your options and commit to an ELD solution that meets your needs and fits your budget. You only have a few weeks left. Make sure you have at least one week to onboard your chosen ELD solution or suite of capabilities. Use that week to practice before going live. Most of all, take my experience to heart. You don’t have to like the legislation and you don’t have to be a computer geek. As I found out, no one should consider leaving the profession without giving e-logs a try. You may discover even more benefits than the ones I’ve outlined here. Thanks for reading about my ELD experience.”

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