BYOD or Vehicle-Installed ELDs? Making the Right Choice


The ELD mandate is due to go into effect on December 18, 2017. When the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) set the guidelines for technical specifications with regard to ELDs, it was clear that the change would affect a large number of vehicles. This comes with many positives: it reduces paperwork, improves safety and increases compliance.

Looking closely at the mandate, you see there are two options for truck and fleet management companies to choose from; Vehicle-Installed/Mounted ELD and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD). As the situation calls for a fairly immediate HOS solution, it is good to know which option is best for you.

What is a Vehicle-Installed ELD?

Installed in the cabs of fleet vehicles, these mounted devices display important data to the driver, which primarily includes the hours of service (HOS); from recording on duty, off duty, sleeper hours, hours driven and hours remaining. These devices also can provide monitoring and recording of driving data, such as routes or driver compliance with rules. This information can be monitored in real-time by managers and dispatchers. It ensures Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) compliance, thereby delivering a superior level of security and productivity for your fleet. As an added bonus, fixed ELDs may include a GPS component, so there may be no need to purchase separate tracking devices.

What is BYOD?

BYOD is where an employee carries their own device (or company provided device) to the job for monitoring and reporting purposes. Software is installed to make the data available on a personal smartphone or tablet and the owner/driver brings the device with them when using the vehicle. Because it seems easier to implement, BYOD is sometimes thought of as the better method, but what are the disadvantages?

  • BYOD Isn’t Cheaper: Even with an app, you might end up paying per driver instead of per vehicle, and you generally have more drivers than vehicles. With installed ELDs, you pay per vehicle, which is generally less overall money.
  • The Limitations of OS: BYOD is flawed in that the software is generally made for either android or iOS, meaning that not everybody can use the same platform if their devices differ. With fixed ELDs, you don’t have this issue.
  • Environmental Hazards: Ordinary consumer smartphones and tablets simply aren’t built to withstand harsh climatic factors. On the contrary, vehicular ELD tablets are made to be much more durable than the consumer grade versions.
  • Possibility of Fines: It is against the law to handle a phone or tablet while driving. Therefore, BYOD usage has a high probability to incur fines. Installed ELDs don’t have this issue as they are affixed to the vehicle.
  • Data Plans: All ELDs necessitate the use of carrier data plans, however an employee-provided plan may be insufficient for the data needs required, which is unreliable.
  • Loss or Damage of Devices: A mobile device is prone to being misplaced or damaged. This just isn’t a concern with more rugged, vehicle mounted ELDs.
  • Forgetting the Device at Home: BYODs have a high propensity of being forgotten at home or at other places. Such forgetfulness on the part of the driver/employee can cause significant loss of data monitoring or recording for that day.
  • Battery Limitations: A mobile device requires a charged battery, which means if the BYOD isn’t charged adequately, they will shut down – and we all know this happens pretty regularly. An installed ELD would never face such a problem as it draws from the vehicle.
  • Decreased Productivity/Safety: A driver who has to constantly check a device using his hands is not as safe or as productive. A driver who as the ELD mounted appropriately in front of him is more efficient and has minimal distraction and maximum attentiveness to the road. Installed ELDs often have a lockout feature to prevent use while the vehicle is in motion for added safety and control.

In addition to the above comparisons, it is also important to understand the overall quality of service you are getting. Does the BYOD option you are considering offer your training and customer support? While BYOD may appear to be inexpensive at first glance, the total expenses of ownership, ROI and associated benefits give fixed ELDs the clear advantage.

At EcoTrack, you always get the best deals and top of the line equipment, focused at optimizing your business process. Get in touch with us today for industry-leading ELD equipment.

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