Are Electronic Logging Devices for Better or for Worse?

The debate about the government mandated use of ELDs has been rampant. While some affected groups oppose it saying this type of ‘surveillance’ is overreaching, others are delighted at the prospect of bringing the trucking industry to a leveled field through accountability and remotely-accessible, untamperable data. The traditional method of filling out paper logs has seen its fair share of issues, from driver harassment to falsified data. Yet, there are employers who find electronic logs to be more dangerous for their drivers. Their hesitance stems from the possibility of having to force their drivers past their limits. Because of the ever watchful digital eye of ELDs, drivers may continue driving even when it is a situation that could end badly.

FMCSA Regulations aside, we are seeing emerging driver assistance technologies which address safety features such as drowsiness detection, predictive pedestrian protection, and lane assist systems. They help monitor driving patterns and give off an audible or visual alert if the driver shows signs of being drowsy or has a momentary lapse of concentration. These features are no doubt helpful on the often long and monotonous trucking routes many drivers face. It is important to stop and think how emerging driver assistance technologies can affect the safety concerns of ELDs and if one can diminish the requirements of the other.

With certain advancements in driver assistance technology becoming more common, we find that many of the features of ELDs and what they aim to accomplish have already been included in trucks through different connected car systems that don’t include electronic driver logs. If ELDs enforce safety through the enforcements of mandated breaks, can drowsy detection now be a more effective way to determine when a driver needs a break? If driver assistance technologies reduce the risk of drowsy driving by instant detection, are the mandated breaks reducing efficiency?

These emerging technologies continue to advance in the background as employers continue their heated debate on ELD regulations. As the debate continues and the FMCSA moves toward a decision, the individual employer needs will truly determine how driver assistance technology is incorporated and how ELDs will be enforced.