SAN DIEGO. Switching from paper driver logs to automated electronic systems saves money, improves safety compliance, makes life easier for drivers and “is just the right thing to do,” according to Dustin England of the truckload carrier C.R. England.

Joining England on a panel about electronic log myths and facts at Qualcomm’s annual users conference being held here this week, Allan Lowry of Central Refrigerated Service said the new onboard systems saved his fleet $50,000 a year alone on buying, collecting and auditing paper logs. “And that doesn’t count the money saved on [log-violation] tickets and time lost for [roadside] inspection of the paper logs,” he said.

John Pope of Cargo Transporters Inc. had “no dollar figures” on savings from the move to electronic logs. However, he said that in 2008 the fleet’s drivers had received 102 hours-of-service (HOS) violations, but since switching all 400 trucks in the fleet to automated systems, they had collected just six violations. “And we have not had a driver placed out of service for hours since Oct. 2008” when the fleet made that switch,” he added.

Kirby Sollom, a driver and driver-trainer for Schneider National told the audience that “once [roadside] inspectors hear you have an electronic log, they move on to other things. Before, they’d spend 45 minutes going over your paper logs.”

Back at the fleet, safety audits also move through the log portion of the process when the auditors automated HOS recordkeeping, said England. “With paper logs, the log portion of an audit was the most nerve-wracking part, but [with electronic logs], we found that they didn’t focus that much on [HOS)]compliance, but just ran a quick check and moved on,” he said.

For drivers, electronic logging “takes the pen and the guessing away, and they don’t have to work so hard trying to keep up with their logs,” said Solloms. “There’s a comfort (for drivers) because they know they can run hard, but also run legal and run safe.”

As for concerns that they might see a drop in pay, “they find that it actually gives them more productivity because it allows them to run out their 14 hours [of on-duty time] with confidence,” he said.

At Central Refrigerated Service, electronic logs also changed the atmosphere back in operations, Lowry added. “There’s more trust between the dispatchers and drivers because with electronic logs hours are hours,” he said. “Dispatchers know how many hours a driver has, and no one is ever asked to do something they can’t do.”

Given all the advantages, making the transition from paper to electronic logs was relatively easy, Pope told the fleet managers at the Qualcomm conference. “I wish we’d done it years ago.”