I’m piping hot right now, so be prepared to feel the wrath of Todd. Oh heck. Who am I kidding? I’m about as dangerous as a de-clawed, 3-legged, slightly-retarded, incest kitten… that’s asleep.

So what am I so upset about? Well, half of me is pissed at myself for being a forgetful slob. The other part is cheesed at my company for their seemingly never-ending quest to make me hate them. Yes, I forgot to change my duty status on my e-log again. This is the second time this has happened in the last four days. That equals about two hours of my available working hours shot out of a turd cannon. It actually would’ve been three hours had I not called to beg mercy from the safety Nazis at my company.

Yes, I realize this is all my fault. How hard is it to remember to reach up to my little screen and hit the Off-Duty button? Well, apparently pretty hard if your name starts with a T and ends with a D. You’d think after having these cursed e-logs in my truck for three months, I’d be used to them by now, yet I’m not.

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I’ve tried to like them. I’ve tried to look at the positive aspects (yes, I grudgingly admit there are a few good things). I’ve taken steps to help remind me to change duty status. I’ve even tried to ignore the things that still bug the heck out of me. Still, these latest goofs have reaffirmed to me that e-logs are only as good as they are set up. There are a lot of things that I hate about the way my company sets up their e-logs, but here’s my company’s worst failing.

My e-logs are set up to default to On-Duty. Here’s how it works. Anytime I stop and pull the brake, it waits a few minutes for me to tell it what to do. This is when I should be entering either On-Duty, Off-Duty, or Sleeper Berth. But if I forget, it automatically puts me in the On-Duty status. And that’s the screwy part.

As a truck driver, I only have so many hours in a week to work. I’d kind of like to be in control of those hours. I don’t need a computer wasting my hours for me. Now if the computer can sense that I want to go to work, by all means, put me on the appropriate line. For instance, if I take off driving, after 1/2 mile it automatically puts me on the driving line. Fine. I’m driving, so clearly that’s what I meant to do. Except of course when I don’t. For more on that read my post called, “E-logs: A second look.” But by and large, if I’m driving, that was my intention.

But why does my e-log automatically assume I want to go On-Duty when I stop driving? Sure, I could be fueling, doing a post-trip inspection, or checking in at a customer. But what if I’m stepping out of the truck to grab some lunch or sprinting towards the bathroom with my hand acting as a makeshift cork? Those are Off-Duty activities. At least I’m pretty sure they aren’t paying me to take a dump. You know, that’s an odd phrase. “Take a dump.” Wouldn’t it be more fitting to say, “Leave a dump”? Imagine that. A bathroom humor tangent. Me. Who’d have guessed?

I’d say that when I stop throughout the day, the majority of my activities are of the Off-Duty variety. I don’t pick up a load every day, nor do I fuel. But I guarantee you that I do use the restroom and eat every day. Multiple times at that. So why not set the e-log system to automatically go to Off-Duty instead? That way, when I’m actually ready to work, I’m the one that is telling the e-logs that it’s okay to start eating away at my precious hours. Oh wait, what am I thinking? This might give the driver some control. And we can’t have that sort of nonsense, can we?

I’m going to sleep on this tonight, calm myself, and have a chat with my safety director about this tomorrow. Hey; he was the one that said to keep in touch. I’m just glad he’s not working tonight. I’m pretty sure I’d get fired if I told him to pull his head out of his tailpipe.

To sum up this rant, I’d like to encourage every driver, both current and future, to be extremely careful when you’re job hunting. Gone are the days when you can simply ask a recruiter if their company is on paper or e-logs. Now you’ve got to delve deeper. If they’re using e-logs, you’ve got to ask how they’re set up.

You need to find out what activities you have to log, and how long for each task. Obviously, you need to find out what things are done automatically and how things are defaulted. But perhaps the biggest question of all is how much of the e-logs are editable. That’s the biggie. If you’ve got that, you can fix a lot of the other things.

But there’s one question that’s even more important than that. It’s essential to find out how much the unit weighs. Why? Well, you wouldn’t want to throw out your shoulder when you’re chucking it across the parking lot, would you?

Photo by holeymoon via Flickr

About the Author
I'm a 22-year truck driver with an interest in tech stuff. I do the Trucker Dump podcast and blog, which is all about life as a trucker. I have also written two trucking books, "Trucking Life" and "How to Find a Great Truck Driving Job."
9 comments on “TD65: All E-logs Aren’t Created Equal
  1. Pam says:

    Not sure I understand all about eLogs, but your description of yourself in the opening sure had me laughing!

    Maybe get one of those dog collars that works with a wireless fence. Set it up so if you get too far from behind the wheel it will go off and then you can remember to push the button.

    I know. Fabulous idea. I’m sure you can Google to get a coupon for that set-up too.

    Drive safe.

    1. Todd McCann says:

      Wireless fence dog collar purchased. E-logs problems are fixed, but I keep wetting myself.

  2. Lisa Nowak says:

    Yeah, I like that last question. No sense risking physical injury on top of all that emotional strain. 🙂

    I get you about the forgetfulness thing. I’d give you a list of all the things I forget in an average day, but I can’t remember them. It usually starts with my cell phone, and whatever tool I really, really need.

    Good luck with those e-logs.

  3. Steve says:

    I have elogs too but I can edit from the truck anything but driving, so if I do accidently stay on duty I can edit it back to off duty or sleeper as long as I have not approved that days logs…
    We r using the qualcomm logs..

    1. Todd McCann says:

      I’ve figured out from talking to other drivers and my safety director that all e-log devices are capable of letting the driver edit them. It’s all in the way they are set up by the company. My safety director flat-out told me that they asked the e-log provider to set them up in compliance with the DOT’s wish list. Their wish list includes having NOTHING editable by the driver.

      If I call the regular Joes in the safety department, they can change some things, but other things has to be approved and changed by the safety director himself. My last call with him, he said, “As long as I work here, the e-logs will stay the way they are.” So I have that to look forward to… 🙁

      Thanks for stopping in and leaving a comment, Steve.

  4. Kat says:

    hey mate, thanks heaps for this.
    some trucking peeps I know over here were wondering how this system worked. cheers.

    1. Todd McCann says:

      Keep in mind that this is just how my company’s e-logs are set up. I hate them here. If you ever get them, they may be fine.

      Now, talking to many of my friends who have e-logs too, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I don’t think I would mind e-logs so much if I could edit them like they can. As I just mentioned to Steve though, my safety director recently informed me that as long as he worked there, our system will never be editable by the driver. I really would quit tomorrow if I weren’t positive that this is going to be my last truck driving job. And I see the end in sight.

      Appreciate you leaving a comment, Kat. Here’s hoping that you’re on paper logs for a loooooooooong time to come.

  5. virgilgray says:

    There are “ALWAYS” ways around that.

    1. Todd McCann says:

      You know, everyone says that, but unless I turn into a software engineer overnight, I think I’m screwed. Oh yeah. Gonna have to break into the e-log providers headquarters too. Cool. I’ve always wanted to try the Tom Cruise Mission Impossible trapeze.

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