There was a FACEBOOK meme out there saying that an ELD would force professional truckers to drive tired. It made me think. Has an ELD ever forced me to drive tired? I have been on an ELD for about 5 years. The ELD has never forced me to drive tired. I have altered the way that I drive occasionally. There have been a few times that I drove a little faster than I normally would. That does not mean driving recklessly, or over the speed limit. NO DEVICE OR DISPATCHER CAN EVER MAKE A PROFESSIONAL DRIVER, PUT SAFETY IN SECOND PLACE.

Dispatch has to know how to dispatch so that the driver can safely deliver the load on time. They have to realize that you may not average 50 MPH through Chicago. That HHG miles are not actual miles. I was lucky - although the more that some people say that I am lucky, I realize that luck might just be good decision making. I joined a company that had made the move to electronic logging years before I arrived.

Getting an ELD was a struggle at first. There have definitely been times that I wish that I could just run the way that I used to run. It is important for all of us to realize that the professional driver is older than most Americans. We may not be as tech savvy as the average office person. As a matter of fact, I think that I have children older than the average office person. It is important to make sure that the driver is comfortable with the operation of the device. Once you get used to it, it is actually easier than a paper log.

At first it was a bit of a distraction for me. I could see my time physically ticking away. As time went by, it ceased being a distraction. Now, I am used to it. It has become an adbantage to easily see my HOS situation. My tendency is to try to save fuel without sacrificing production. The accurate information that I receive from my ELD and my GPS makes the math easier. 

The advice that I would give to a new ELD user is to relax. The machine can not make you do anything. It will not shut off the truck. Every so often, about once a quarter, something unforeseen will happen on the last leg of my day and cause me to go into violation. Make a remark on the ELD comments section. Explain what happened. Be honest. Don't abuse it. Some things can be checked by an examiner.

Yes, once I stopped 5 miles from the terminal because I ran out of hours. No, I wasn't happy about it. Truth is that there are days when we all know that we are pushing the limits. When you push the limits, you might not get home. Either stop pushing the limits, or deal with the consequences. You definitely lose some "flexibility" with an ELD. As with any changes there are good things and bad things. This is no different. Get educated on the different ELDs and plan accordingly.

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Jeff Clark

Jeff Clark of Kewaunee, WI has been driving a truck for 24 years. He has been an owner operator for 11 years.

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