Truckers, Get Ready for the Electronic Log Mandate

What you need to know before the electronic log mandate goes into effect

If you’re in trucking you likely know that the Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have issued an electronic log mandate, requiring trucks and drivers to utilize an electronic — rather than paper — logging system. The mandate goes into effect in December 2017.

The mandate is supposed to keep the roads safer by monitoring hours driven against time off to make sure drivers have adequate rest. But a number of factors — cost, limited truck parking, and the way hours are recorded, to name a few — make this a more complicated issue. So complicated, in fact, that when the mandate came up several times in the past, it was blocked at the last minute.

Because the electronic log mandate has been shut down a number of times before, many drivers and administrators may not be taking the December deadline seriously. But Kathy Berglof, long time Director of Safety at Citi-Cargo and Logistics Services, believes that this time, the mandate will stand. “The Department of Transportation has addressed issues [that repealed the mandate in the past], so I don’t think it’s going to be stopped this time,” she said.

Here’s what Berglof says drivers and administrators at trucking companies need to know before the e-log mandate to goes into effect.

  1. Understand the rules. There are a lot of rumors about the mandates rules, Berglof says. Get accurate information by reading the DOT’s Electronic Logging Devices and Hours of Service Supporting Documents Final Rule.
  2. Choose a user-friendly solution. “You want it to be simple for the driver to use, and simple for the office to use,” Berglof said. Some drivers aren’t comfortable with computer systems, so find a user-friendly system.
  3. Figure out what your company needs. Do you have 10 trucks in your fleet? A hundred? Do you own your own truck? There are a variety of electronic logging systems out there, and what you need – and want to pay for – will depend on your organization’s needs.
  4. Go on recommendations. Ask other companies similar to yours what they like and don’t like about certain systems.
  5. Test drive a few options. “Pick a system, run a couple of trucks for a few weeks,” Berglof says, “that way you won’t have a huge investment before you determine if it works.”
  6. Consider cost. The range of price in units varies widely. Testing systems will help you figure out what you’ll use, so you aren’t paying for anything you don’t need.
  7. Anticipate resistance. Many drivers aren’t comfortable with computer systems, are worried about it will affect their hours, or have other concerns. But once drivers get use to it, Berglof finds that drivers often prefer e-logs to paper.
  8. Start now. Berglof says that starting months in advances gives you a chance to test, evaluate and implement.

Despite the concerns, Berglof says that even the most resistant drivers are pleasantly surprised by their experience with e-logging. “Once drivers get accustomed to it, it takes a lot of stress off a driver’s mind,” Berglof says. “You never have to worry about your log being current. You never have to play catch up at the end of the day. All those little things that takes drivers time up, e-logs eliminate.”

Citi-Cargo offers over-the-road trailers and logistics services. Learn more.