YATESVILLE -- Trucking companies across the United States will soon enter a new era when it comes to logging drivers' time on the road.
Traditionally, drivers use paper logs to prove they didn't drive too long in one day. But starting next month, tractor-trailers will be required to have electronic logging devices.
One trucking company in Luzerne County has been using this type of technology for nearly 10 years.
Could electronic logging devices be the answer to a problem on the road, a problem some tractor-trailer companies face when it comes to keeping track of drivers' hours on the road?
Robert Danko, a truck driver at Calex Logistics in Pittston seems to think so. He logs into his electronic device every time he hits the road.
"In a good way, it reminds the drivers you have certain rules. This is it. You can't drive beyond those rules because if you start to drive the truck, it's not going to do good moving it anyhow. It keeps the honest people honest," Danko said.
Starting December 18, the use of electronic logging will be federally mandated for trucking companies as part of a safer work environment act called "MAP 21."
Thomas Grimes, the chief operating officer at Calex Logistics, tells Newswatch 16 the company has been using this technology for almost 10 years.
"It gives our employees, our operators, a better way to plan," Grimes said. "They know exactly what they can do. It takes no interpretation. It is what is it. It is black and white."
Truck drivers typically use a paper log to keep track of hours, but drivers say that method makes it easier to lose track of hours and spend too much time on the road.
State police say that's what happened last year in Lackawanna County.
A tow truck operator was struck and killed by a tractor-trailer on Interstate 81 near Clarks Summit. Troopers believe the trucker from Massachusetts was falsifying his driving log and had been driving 35 hours without a significant break at the time of the crash.
"You've heard stories about big trucks. Did the driver sleep? There have been accidents. This takes all of that out of the equation. Everything is on the ELD, accounted for, every minute of every day," said Grimes.
For decades, all drivers have known was paper logging, but a piece of paper has its limitations, and that caused a lot of safety concerns. The machine not only tracks a driver's time on the road and their location, but it takes all that information and sends it right back to headquarters where it's updated by the minute.
Different computer screens are used to track drivers.
A monitor shows where crews are across the country; some travel as far as California.
Another monitor shows where crews have stopped, their current speed, and estimated time of arrival to their final destination.
The device will also give drivers a countdown to when it's time to pull over before they are in violation.
"It protects the driver for the amount of hours that you need to work. It protects the company. Everyone knows exactly what happened. It protects us and the motoring public," Danko said.
The electronic logging devices can be expensive depending on the company.
Calex has 200 installed in its fleet.
"The unit, or the brain if you will, comes with the truck if you buy it from the manufacturer. It's similar to your cell phone. It costs $200 to turn it on and there is a monthly fee and it's approximately $50 dollars a month per vehicle," Grimes explained.
After December 18, drivers without ELDs will face heavy fines and penalties.