We know electronic logging devices are complicated and with over 200 options on the market, deciding what to purchase can be daunting.
As part of our ELD deep-dive series, we’re covering the most important questions to ask before making your ELD purchase.
We also put together a handy guide of additional questions to consider before you buy, based on the FMCSA requirements checklist.
1.) Is this a standalone device or an app used with a smartphone?
This is arguably the most important question to ask ELD providers. ELD’s are a system of three physical parts; a data collection box, diagnostic plug-in and a display
All ELDs have a data collection box and plug-in, but display types vary depending on the system.
Currently, an ELD system has either a standalone device to display your data, or you can use an application on your smartphone to manage and display your data.
When you decide to buy an ELD these are your only two options in terms of variety. Each option has positives and negatives. Using your own device means the ELD might initially be cheaper to operate, but could be unreliable or require a phone with a newer operating system (think an iphone 8 instead of an iphone 5.)
A standalone display device could have fewer glitches than an app you use on your phone, but it will be more expensive and harder to update as Hours of Service rules change. Which brings us to…
2.) How does the provider stay up-to-date with new elog regulations?
Especially with this new ELD mandate, groups are petitioning for Hours of Service and ELD laws to be changed daily. Just recently there was a new petition to change the split-sleeper allowances.
If you’re using a standalone device, your provider may cover device upgrades or software updates. If you’re using your smartphone, providers will notify you with required software updates within the app.
With either option, make sure the provider you’re considering has a feasible plan to incorporate regulatory changes.
3.) What are my upfront costs and payment options?
Price is obviously one of the most important aspects of choosing an ELD. But knowing “how much is this going to cost me?” is not enough. Some ELDs are a one-time-only payment, but as regulations change, companies that sold one-time-payment devices might not cover the cost of a newer regulatory-compliant device. Some ELD’s might sell you on a low monthly payment, but will require you to pay the first two years up front. This means when newer, better ELDs come on the market you will simply have to cut your losses.
Super Dispatch thinks monthly or quarterly payments are the most economical option for smaller companies.
4.) What data plan do you recommend to use your service adequately?
Yet another cost of ELDs are hotspot use. Yes, the ELD is wired to your truck, but all ELDs require some form of wireless internet access to operate. One provision of the ELD mandate is “data transfer” and whether your device performs a “bluetooth” or “web services” data transfer, you need internet access to log all of your RODS somewhere other than your local device. Find out about this hidden cost early.
As mentioned earlier, Bluetooth and Web services are the two supported transfer methods for Record of Duty Status (RODS) to a safety officer during inspections. The web services option is generally more reliable to connect with a larger range of devices, but Bluetooth will be cheaper overall and will be able to transfers files in areas without internet or data connection.
This question is in the Top 5 because it is the most important functionality in a roadside safety inspection. DoT officers are allowed to request the last seven days of RODS at roadside inspection, and if you fail to provide the required documentation, you will get seven violation points on your record.
Seven is the highest number of points a driver can accrue for a single ELD violation. This is the most serious ELD violation that exists – yes, even more points than not having an ELD at all.
We think these are the Top 5 things you should be asking your ELD salesperson when buying an ELD. But we have 15 more questions in a printable PDF you can download now..
Have you been in the market for ELDs? What has been your experience buying ELDs? Let us know!
Do you have more questions? Let us know in the comments!