The life of a truck driver isn’t easy. Long stretches away from loved ones, fatigue, countless hours in traffic. Now imagine adding hours of paperwork to that.  Not an appealing prospect, right? But for many drivers, that’s a reality. They pull in after a long, hard trip, and know that they need to handwrite all their hours of service (HOS) on a form.

That’s all about to change. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a new mandate for the trucking industry. By 2019, all long-haul drivers must use electronic logging devices (ELDs) to log their time. They can also use other mobile devices that meet the new mandate’s requirements. It’s an opportunity for the industry to shift to mobile technology – and move away from clipboards and paper forms. It brings change for trucking companies and drivers; embracing tech will not only help them be compliant, it will also make them more efficient.

The benefit is clear to see. ELDs will help drivers share accurate reports of their hours electronically in near real-time. Drivers won't need to fax their records from the road or return to the office to complete their paper logs. They can simply log and send their HOS using the device. And ELDs give businesses near real-time visibility into their timekeeping and compliance activities.

But change, even for the better, isn’t easy.  For many companies, satisfying the mandate will require making some changes.

Here are some tips to smooth the transition:

  • Plan ahead. Prepare for the expense and start talking to your IT department. Many larger trucking companies will need to buy ELDs to satisfy the mandate. Smaller businesses, often with tighter budgets and fewer resources, will also need to think through how to transition from their older practices.
  • Engage an expert.  Solution providers can help businesses develop the right strategy for managing the transition. They can also offer tech solutions that satisfy the mandate, but also improve productivity for their workforce in many ways.
  • Bundle for big results.  Think about a fleet management solution with GPS vehicle tracking, engine diagnostics, driver behavior, HOS compliance and a mobile forms app. One such solution is AT&T Fleet Management Solutions. You’ll be able to track drivers’ HOS electronically, locate drivers in near real-time and gather delivery information via a mobile device.

This is great progress in the industry. Once implemented, it will take a to-do off a truck drivers’ list and give companies more visibility and control.

To learn more about the FMCSA mandate, read this Supply & Demand Chain Executive Magazine article.