Author: Justin Schmid
- As of December 2020, ELD prices range from $15-$35 per vehicle, per month
- The FMCSA found that organizations saved enough time using ELD to recover the costs.
- Hardware options include vehicle-installed devices and BYOD devices like smartphones and tablets.
- Installers are likely to be booked as the Dec. 16 deadline approaches.
- Using an app may be the fastest way to be compliant before the deadline.
What Will ELD Cost Your Fleet?
In the rush to comply with the ELD mandate that went into effect in 2019, ELD cost was one of the big concerns for fleet owners and managers. That still hasn’t changed.
Just a few years ago, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration commissioned a study to gauge the impact the ELD mandate would have on fleets nationwide. At the time, the FMCSA estimated the costs at $41.25 per month, per truck.
Fast forward to today. Prices have plummeted. Hardware is less expensive, and some providers are even providing full-featured apps, which can start at low as $15 per month, per vehicle.
During the FMCSA study, hard-wired tablets were by far the most-common type of ELD hardware. But the Bring Your Own Device – aka BYOD – option has only grown as tablets and smartphones have become more and more capable. In addition to low-cost apps, some vendors also have options to pay all upfront, finance over time, or rent the ELD devices.
Here are a few points to consider if you’re pricing ELD solutions:
You can choose vehicle-installed ELDs provided by your vendor or Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) as a hardware option to track Hours of Service (HOS). There are pros and cons to either option. Most importantly, you must ensure whichever option you choose will make your fleet compliant with the regulations.
If you’re hard-wiring components to your vehicle, make sure you select a vendor that has access to a network of professional installers that are experienced in ELD installations. Installation is crucial for any fleet management hardware.
There’s a lot at stake: If your solution fails and your drivers don’t quickly handle the problem, they could be placed OOS (Out of Service) for 8 hours plus the fine. After that, they will be allowed to continue their trip to their destination. Then, they must install and use an ELD to continue operating beyond that.
Quality installations reduce the risk of failure, so make sure your provider can show what steps they take to make the process go smoothly.
Set aside time for your drivers to learn how to use the E-logs. It’s regulated that ELD vendors provide a manual as a resource for drivers. To go a step further, a good vendor will include additional training resources at no additional charge.
While many vendors were reluctant to adopt apps, their flexibility and ease of use are swaying the doubters. They’re extremely customizable to your situation: For example, you can customize the ELD app to work for a driver in Illinois hauling perishable food, or a driver in California hauling hazardous waste. That makes complying with state and federal regulations easier than ever. Some apps even have embedded tutorials, customizable checklists, and many other features besides their low cost.
Apps might also be the fastest way to get compliant. You won’t need installation, which will save time implementing the solution.
Beyond the ELD Cost
Nobody likes regulations that cost them money. But there’s good news in this case: ELD might require an upfront investment, but it has terrific potential for saving time and money. The FMCSA study found that drivers spent far less time using ELD than they did filling out paper forms. That alone helped fleets realize significant ROI – more than enough to pay for the ELDs.
Make the Most of the Mandate
After finding out if you’re required to comply and looking into costs, the next step is to choose an ELD solution. With the same minimum equipment that is required to comply with the ELD Mandate, you can also select a vendor that has many more bells and whistles at little or no additional cost. In addition to electronic logging and DVIR, some ELD solutions include GPS tracking, navigation, and driver messaging features.
These features can greatly improve your fleet management and can multiply your ROI. If you’re required to buy the equipment anyway, choosing the right partner might make getting ELD a positive experience after all.