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How HOS and eLogs Work

How HOS and eLogs Work
August 13, 2015 Fleet Tracking Editor

FMCSA Required Logbooks

The FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) has long mandated the use of logbooks (or log books) in tractor-trailer combinations. Essentially, any large truck that is not completely used for agricultural purposes off main roads is required to have a driver logbook. Now, the FMCSA has moved to require electronic logbooks to be installed and used by drivers. The mandate has not taken full effect, but is due around January 1, 2017.

How Do Electronic Logbooks Work?

The eLog or electronic logbook is usually the combination of several devices rolled into a single package. The base requirements are:

  1. A GPS tracker and wireless communication device – this is usually a single device.  This is what used to be called the black box of GPS tracking in the trucking industry.  This tracks GPS position, speed, heading, GPS-based mileage, and several other items.  This unit is usually installed under the dashboard and is the relay to the provider’s servers.  There isn’t a ton to know about these except you might ask if the manufacturer is US-based versus an overseas company.  Warranties are almost always 1 year but are sometimes longer when a contract is required.
  2. A navigation and logbook tracker – this is the device that mounts on top of the dashboard of the truck. The driver will be required to log into this device and report HOS duty status.  The communication of data from this device is usually facilitated by the GPS tracker that it works with.
  3. A JBUS 1939 wiring harness and connector – Rule 395.15 requires tight integration with the truck and the electronic logbook unit.  As such, the device must be connected to the JBUS for complete compliance. Generally, the JBUS connection will also transmit trouble codes and telemetric data like water temperature, oil pressure, and more.

    Electronic Logbook in Cab

    View of highway traffic through the windshield of the truck cab. Navigation is mounted on the dashboard.

Once the unit is installed, the logbook data is also uploaded to servers and visible on the GPS tracking provider’s application.

As a rule, any mechanic capable of installing a car stereo is qualified to install an electronic logbook system and the installation time is usually under 45 minutes.

At Rhino Fleet Tracking, our setup is very much this way.  We have partnered with Garmin to facilitate our Hours of Service solution. You can use any of the Garmin DEZL products, designed just for the trucking industry, and our setup.

Feel free to call if you have questions about how electronic logs work.