Beginning in December, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration regulations go into effect requiring commercial interstate vehicles install and operate an electronic logging device (ELD) to comply with hours-of-service laws. The FMCSA has said the ELD mandate will save U.S. trucking companies $1.6 billion per year by reducing limiting paperwork costs and improving fuel efficiency. According to The Truckers Report, fuel is the single largest operating cost for trucks — 54 cents per mile, up to $70,000 annually. So, improving fuel efficiency is a high priority for fleet operators.

While it’s estimated that complying with the ELD mandate will cost between $199 and $2,200 per truck, plus a monthly service fee of $20 to $60 per truck, according to, fleets can take advantage of bringing these electronic devices into the cab. The ELD plugs directly into the vehicle’s engine management computer to record data such as engine speed time of operation, and the onboard GPS tracks parameters such as acceleration and braking.

For small fleets and independent owner/operators, ELD solutions, offer in-cab telematics that can help drivers and fleet reduce their fuel costs through better driving and improved navigation.

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With these devices, fleet managers want to ensure the data they are receiving is not only accurate but is easy-to-use for the drivers and reliable in the field. These capabilities help produce data that can effectively improve operations on a short-term and long-term basis.

Improve Driver Behavior and Fuel Savings

With the information provided by the ELD, fleet managers can track various driving actions such as time spent idling, rapid acceleration and hard braking. Maintenance data such as tire pressure monitoring, engine temperature and oil changes can contribute to improving fuel economy as well.

Managers can work with drivers to improve their skills, which help to lower maintenances costs, reduce driving risks and improve fuel efficiency. Managers can share driver performance, providing incentives for top performers and identify drivers that might need additional coaching on effective driving habits for efficient fuel consumption.

In a test on seven Class 8 trucks, fleet telematics provider Geotab reported that improving fuel efficiency up to 9 miles or more per gallon using data from the onboard recorders was possible, compared to the national North American average of 4.51 to 6.37 mpg.

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During the study, test drivers used data showing location, fuel, engine load, speed, acceleration and RPM to improve their driving habits. During the three-week test covering 50,107 miles, the participating fleets saved $7,193 and 2,877 gallons and achieved 10.1 mpg. With these tangible results, researchers concluded that improving fuel efficiency through collected metrics and driving habits is achievable for fleets.

Create Navigation Efficiencies

ELDs give fleet managers the ability to monitor vehicles through GPS tracking. Real-time tracking capabilities cuts down on the administrative overhead when it comes to dispatching drivers, which reduces idle time and empty trips.

Using real-time tracking, managers know when a driver is able to pick up and drop off loads and can be re-routed dynamically for the most efficient routing. This could include routes that have less traffic and lower grades, resulting in less braking and fuel consumption.

With GPS integrated with the hours-of-service tracking, managers will know the driver’s hours of service status and can assign a driver with sufficient time to handle a shipment, reducing unnecessary or excessively long trips.

The GPS tracking provides breadcrumb trails and location history, so fleet managers and drivers plan out the most efficient routes. After all, the shortest route may not be the best one if it has heavy traffic or is hard to navigate, which could result in increased fuel costs.

For fleets that want to go beyond the basics of compliance with the ELD mandate, fleet telematics provides the perfect foundation to improve fuel efficiency and bring major cost benefits to businesses.

Advancements in digital technology are dramatically improving fleet management and telematics. Learn here how you can boost fleet productivity with innovative mobile solutions.

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Gary Wollenhaupt

Gary Wollenhaupt is a veteran of the transportation and logistics industry, with carrier-side experience in intermodal, rail and inland and ocean shipping verticals, managing corporate marketing and public policy initiatives. He's also worked as a reporter for a daily newspaper and in corporate and agency public relations. Follow Gary on Twitter: @gary_writes

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