Isaac Instruments
The position of an ELD is prime real estate for a portable computer that interfaces with a fleet's transportation management system.

How using a smart tablet as an ELD improves driver efficiency and safety

June 10, 2024
The ELD in a truck cabin can go far beyond just logging hours—it is a prime opportunity for a device that can improve safety and efficiency.

That screen in front of the driver? Sure, it is required to comply with hours-of-service regulations. But it can do so much more than log hours.

“That’s what they need to make sure the drivers are compliant to the hours of service; in-cab technology is first and foremost a requirement for regulation,” Melanie Simard, VP of safety, compliance & technical support at Isaac Instruments, told FleetOwner. “But then it expands to so much other stuff that you can do with an in-cab solution.”

Using a tablet as an ELD

FMCSA requires most motor carriers and drivers to use electronic logging devices. The devices were implemented to ensure drivers abide by hours-of-service regulations in real-time (as opposed to using paper logs), thereby reducing fatigued driving and improving commercial vehicle safety.

See also: FMCSA revoked two ELDs—one now reinstated

Regulations limit how widely ELD use can vary. Generally, ELDs have to sit in the same position, visible to the driver in a sitting position, without obstructing the windshield. The device also needs to connect to the vehicle’s engine control module.

However, the type of device used can be drastically different between fleets.

“Most devices you’ll see in a truck nowadays are pretty much at the same location,” Simard said. “It’s just a matter of [the type of device]. Is it a trucking-grade tablet like we have? Is it just a consumer-grade tablet? Is the driver using a cell phone?”

Many FMCSA-registered ELDs are designed to do only that one thing: log hours. However, the position of an ELD is prime real estate for portable technology to assist drivers. Choosing smart equipment with wireless communications capabilities, like a tablet, not only allows for hours-of-service compliance but also all the functions of a dedicated computer.

Inspection workflows are a perfect opportunity for portable devices to replace physical paperwork.

Companies such as Isaac can provide step-by-step instructions through their devices to guide drivers through inspections and reports. If something on the vehicle looks wrong, users can take and submit pictures with the device’s integrated camera.

“Having this smart inspection DVIR feature gives the driver the opportunity to walk around the truck with their tablet and make sure they inspect every point,” Simard said.

Fleets can also customize their inspection points according to equipment type.

“A tanker fleet will have a [different] inspection point than a flatbed driver than a dry box driver,” Simard said. “Everything’s customizable; you know your flatbed driver will look at his load securement in another way than the tanker driver.”

About the Author

Jeremy Wolfe | Editor

Editor Jeremy Wolfe joined the FleetOwner team in February 2024. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point with majors in English and Philosophy. He previously served as Editor for Endeavor Business Media's Water Group publications.

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