Tag Archives: electronics

ELDs

Are You Ready?

By Larry Pruitt

With the FMCSA‘s Electronic Logging Device Mandate deadline quickly looming, Owner-Operators and small fleet owners alike are trying to wade through all of their options for the upcoming mandate deadline.  They’re trying to decide what will work best for them.  I know some companies have been testing different products on some select trucks in their fleet, while other operations are holding out hope that there will be a stay at the eleventh hour.  In my opinion, Congress doesn’t seem to agree on anything these days and unable to get anything passed, so I seriously doubt that this will get stopped before December 18.

With that being said, there is a very large contingent of drivers that have made the statement that they are leaving the industry when this mandate takes effect.  Some may leave and will probably move on to other careers, but most will continue on and adapt to the mandate. This upheaval in the industry will subside, and as my Mom would say, “This too shall pass”, and I agree with her, “This too will pass… it may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass”.  I’m old enough to remember back in the late-eighties or early-nineties when the CDL License Program was being introduced into the Trucking Industry.  There was a large number of drivers that were afraid that the CDL process would be so complicated that there was going to be a large shortage of drivers.  Drivers were going to leave the industry in droves because of something that today is viewed as no big deal and just part of the process of the regulations that we are saddled with today.

I’m not going to try to change anybody’s mind here on whether you want ELDs or don’t want them.  I’m just going to pass on my experiences, as I switched over to an ELD a little over a month ago.

To give you a little bit of background, I’ve been doing my logs on a tablet for the past 5 years or so using the Big Road app. I found that my logs were much easier to make sure that they were filled out completely and most of all, correctly.  This helps ensure you have a lesser chance to fall victim to a form and matter violation at a roadside inspection. The app would not let you sign your log unless everything was filled out properly.  I installed the connection to ECM back in September using the same app Big Road app.  I chose this product for a couple of different reasons, one was that I already was familiar with the app and the other was that I had good luck with tech support previously.  I wanted to get acclimated to using an ELD now versus trying to get compliant in the middle of December and having trouble.

The process of switching over has been pretty much uneventful so far.  I haven’t been caught about to run out of hours in my day yet, but I’m sure that will happen eventually.  I’m very fortunate that my operation allows me to be home every night.  I will admit that e-logs make it easier to keep track of duty status changes, it automatically knows when you start driving and when you stop driving, so you don’t even have to look at it for the biggest part of the day.  I will go back into it later and add notes to my stops whenever I have the time.

I think that ELDs are going to affect the industry over the foreseeable future.  I think that changes are going to be just as hard on shippers and receivers.  The truck lines are going to force shippers to get their trucks in and out and back on the road.  Let’s face it, companies are not going to be able to let trucks sit at a shipper or receiver for roughly 8 hours and then only have 6 hours left for their day and still be able to make any profit whatsoever.  Shippers will have to get better or their freight will lay on their dock, because no one will waste their time with that shipper.  I can see more drop and hook freight in the future, in segments that have never before been drop and hook operations.

One thing is for sure, the small fleet folks may have to change how they do business.  I think most small carriers will be able to adapt if they approach this from working within the system rather than trying to work around the system.

Well, that’s my opinion and experiences on the ELD mandate.  There are folks that agree with me and most definitely some that do not agree with me but are very passionate about their opinion.  No matter what anyone’s opinion is, let’s revisit this issue in about a year or so and see what the industry and it’s logging issues are at that time.  To everyone involved, GOOD LUCK with the mandate!

Iowa80.com offers a variety of e-log devices, shop here.


Larry Pruitt is an owner-operator with over 20 years of experience and has been involved in trucking for close to 40 years. He is a firefighter in North St. Louis County Missouri and resides with his wife, Jeanette, in Saint Clair, MO.


 

Great Gifts for Truck Drivers

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

Great Gifts for Truck Drivers- Christmas will be here before we know it and it’s never too early to start shopping for that perfect gift for those important people in your life. In fact, it’s a good idea to get started earlier rather than later so your budget can withstand the extra expense of the holiday.Christmas will be here before we know it and it’s never too early to start shopping for that perfect gift for those important people in your life. In fact, it’s a good idea to get started earlier rather than later so your budget can withstand the extra expense of the holiday.

If the one you love is a new driver the list of things that would make useful gifts is long.  It takes some time to get organized and figure out what you need when you are new in this business. For the old hands out here, new things are coming down the pike every day. If you look, you can still find something that will be a thoughtful and appreciated gift.

Let’s start with the new drivers, for years I carried an over the shoulder shower bag, now I have found that a duffle bag with wheels is greatly appreciated. I woke up one day, older, and said to myself, “hmmm, I suppose trucking hasn’t always been as kind to my body as I would have liked” and realized  that, just maybe, a shower bag on wheels might make my life a little easier, which it does. Try to find a bag with all the little cubbies to hold your shower necessities.  A fun pair of shower shoes might be another idea.  Everything can’t always be strictly practical, personalize whenever you can, for example if your loved one likes dogs, get something dog-inspired.

Great Gifts for Truck Drivers- Christmas will be here before we know it and it’s never too early to start shopping for that perfect gift for those important people in your life. In fact, it’s a good idea to get started earlier rather than later so your budget can withstand the extra expense of the holiday.If you get a chance, wander the aisles at a chrome shop like Iowa 80 to see all the latest must haves on a truck. There are many ideas there for drivers! If you can’t make it to one of their store locations you can call toll free for a catalog or you can go to IOWA80.com and look online.

An extendable back scratcher is a nice idea and an extendable fly swatter is always welcome.  An over the seat organizer helps keep things in easy reach and put away so they aren’t cluttering up the dash.  Office supplies like a cute calculator, fun paper clips, scissors, dash duster, a nice ink pen, can take away some of the boring in your work space. A good sized thermos or thermal coffee mug could be great gifts for your driver as could a pair of polarized sunglasses or warm gloves. A shaving kit bag for a man or a make-up bag for a woman as well as a warm, comfy blanket throw for either gender would all make good gifts.

There are lots of things you can buy in pink or purple now, tool boxes with pink handled tools, your every day coffee cup… you can even find things with a bit of bling on them for us ladies! You don’t have to give up being a girl to drive a truck.

For a driver who has all the necessary stuff, finding something personalized is extra special.  A t-shirt from a favorite OEM or apparel company is always a favorite. Then there are the staples that may need to be replaced, anything from work gloves to a bluetooth headset. A favorite is always something to make the truck smell good, being closed up inside for so many hours without being able to have fresh air circulate creates a real need for it, so air fresheners, in many different scents, would be a nice gift. Especially if it could last longer than a day!

Gifts given to us from the ones we love mean a lot when you are gone from home, and if you are just getting into this crazy business, I think they might mean even more. Merry Christmas!

Stay Safe Out There And Keep It Shiny!


Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.


Trucker Technology

High-Tech for the Highway

By Heather Hogeland & Kim Grimm

Rapidly changing technology can be a blessing or a curse. It’s truly a blessing to not have to take the time to stop and look for a pay phone to make those daily check calls or just check in at home, but it can feel like a curse when you need to make a call but can’t get cell service.

Years ago the CB radio was the drivers main form of communication with the world outside the truck, it was the place we went for a traffic or weather report, it was where we turned for someone to talk to through a long, lonely night. Back then we had to be running in the same direction, at the same time, in the same general place in order to run together, now all we need are a cell phone, a headset, chargers for them both and unlimited minutes! There are actually huge networks of drivers that get together every night on conference calls and discuss numerous topics from the Bible to the latest new change in the hours of service. It has become a relevant and much needed support system for these drivers as it has helped them stay awake and alert throughout the entire shift.

Today’s technology has changed so much, now we have satellite radio, the weather channel and cell phones that are actually mini computers. We have hands free devices and bluetooth technology that will connect these devices up to one another so that they can talk to each other and we can talk to them! In days gone by shippers and receivers used to hand write bills of lading, today, if the computer is down a driver could be tied up for hours waiting on paperwork.

High-Tech for the Highway- Rapidly changing technology can be a blessing or a curse. It’s truly a blessing to not have to take the time to stop and look for a pay phone to make those daily check calls or just check in at home, but it can feel like a curse when you need to make a call but can’t get cell service.GPS is another amazing tool that can make our lives a bit easier, just remember, it is a tool; it does NOT replace a phone call to a customer where you would be able to get information such as “is there parking available at their facility?” or “is there construction or a road closure my GPS doesn’t know about?”. Some GPSs are programmed with information that includes rest areas, truck stops, even WalMart stores, in addition to scale locations, ports of entry, and state borders, they have all kinds of extra things like speed limits and speed warnings built into them. BUT, they don’t know everything, you are the driver and it’s up to you to use common sense! DON’T drive under a low bridge because “my GPS told me too”.

 

One of the coolest things technology has brought about has benefited not only our industry, but has helped our military as well and that is the face to face talking over the Internet. Nowadays we can call home, with the help of a device and an Internet connection, and actually see the people we are talking to while we are talking to them! Being able to see as well as talk to a loved one back home is a luxury I know many drivers wish they could have had years ago. For the little ones you have to leave behind while you make a living, actually being able to see them when you’re miles away is priceless, and for them to see you? What a gift!

One more great piece of technology that we believe drivers should have, if they don’t already, is a dash camera. One that mounts easily and can be operated with a bluetooth shutter device. It doesn’t have to be an expensive one, just a small digital device, that can be used to record many things out through the windshield of your truck. You never know when that may come in really handy. Besides, there are ALWAYS things going on in front of you worthy of being photographed. As long as it’s done hands free.

Almost every device we mentioned can be powered by using the cigarette lighter plug in the dash. Many trucks, cars too now, are coming equipped with USB ports for the same purpose. Most vehicles are even equipped with multiple outlets. If yours isn’t, you can purchase plugs with adapters and extension cords along with a series of splitters so you will be able to power several devices without having to cut into any wiring. If for some reason you have no power in an outlet, the first place you should check is the fuse panel to see if the fuse has blown.

Stay safe out there and Keep it Shiny!


 Heather Hogeland and Kim Grimm are CDL holders and longtime friends with a combined 75 years and 7 million miles of driving experience. Both are writers and have a love for everything trucking, as well as, furry, four-legged friends. Kim is currently a full-time owner-operator and part-time writer. Heather writes for various trucking publications and enjoys traveling with her husband Roger.