The Top 5 ELDs for Owner-Operators
Every truck driver knows how important ELDs (electronic logging devices) and ELD apps are for accurate and reliable monitoring. These devices ensure that everyone stays in compliance with federal law, gets paid properly, and remains safe on the road.
We’ve compiled a list of the best ELD apps out there, key differences to keep in mind, and how to choose the right ELD app for your needs.
How do ELDs work and why do you need them?
In order to comply with the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Hours of Service (HOS) rules, truck drivers must accurately keep record of driving time, breaks, and miles driven for every haul. An ELD connects to your vehicle’s onboard diagnostics (OBD) port, and automatically records several indicators you need in order to stay compliant, as well as other helpful information for fleet management and safety.
ELDs make reporting on HOS a much simpler task, and allows drivers to automate much of the process.
The best ELDs are able to record (and report) the following:
- Engine power and speed
- Fuel status
- Whether or not your vehicle is in motion
- Harsh braking and collisions
- How many miles you’ve driven
- How long the engine has been running
- Your identification as the authorized driver
- Duty status (whether you’re on-duty or off-duty)
An ELD app is designed to make compliance easy by connecting and transmitting data to a phone or tablet. ELD apps offer a supplemental view so that drivers can manage their reports from anywhere.
Things to consider when choosing an ELD
ELDs save drivers and fleet managers time by automating compliance requirements, but there are some key factors to keep in mind when choosing the right one for your business.
The number one priority for your ELD is compliance. All ELDs must be approved by the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) in order to sync with the FMCSA’s record of duty status (RODS) software. Registered ELDs deliver data to safety officials for review and allow you to report your HOS.
You can check the official list of accepted ELDs to make sure your device is compliant. This list also includes devices that have been revoked and are no longer allowed.
Because an ELD is directly connected to your engine’s OBD, it should be able to notify you when maintenance is needed. The best ELD will help you complete electronic driver vehicle inspection reports (DVIRs) by providing maintenance data.
Along with maintenance notifications, the best ELDs have features that improve your safety on the road. Built-in gyroscopes and accelerometers allow ELDs to detect dangerous driving automatically, which is beneficial for fleet managers and an important tool for determining driver liability. Location and safety tracking can also help prevent freight fraud.
The ELDs that stand out go above and beyond when it comes to reporting on crucial data points. Aside from HOS reporting, ELDs that provide comprehensive information about driver safety and efficiency stand out against the competition.
Another important consideration is price. The best ELD for your business will vary on your specific needs. Pricier ELDs often come with a more robust offering of features that can definitely pay off in the long run. And a higher monthly subscription may mean more efficiency, higher profitability, and better preventative maintenance alerts.
5 best ELD apps for truckers
Here are the top five ELDs that are highly recommended in the industry:
Samsara is the clear leader when it comes to customer reviews. Samsara is preferred due to its reliability and easy-to-use interface. It helps drivers navigate complete ELD compliance and offers additional features like vehicle telematics, dash cams, safety reports, security alerts, and apps for both drivers and fleet managers.
- Five-year hardware warranties
- 24/7 support available
- Option to upgrade to full fleet management
Pricing: Cost varies by fleet size, contract length, and features needed. Estimated hardware cost starts at $99. Monthly software subscription cost estimates range from $27 – $33 per month based on contract.
Contract: Minimum 3-year contract
Motive (formerly known as KeepTruckin) has been around since 2013 and has a robust suite of products. Motive offers hardware that makes compliance easy with WiFi hotspots, and automated fuel tracking for International Fuel Tax Agreement (IFTA) filing.
- Compliance breach alerts
- Digital HOS logs
- Easy-to-use interface
Pricing: $150 hardware lease, plus custom monthly pricing
Contract: One year minimum
Garmin is a trusted veteran in the driving tech industry. For truck drivers, the Garmin eLog™ Compliant ELD is a one-time purchase solution for HOS reporting, rather than a monthly subscription model.
- Quick and easy set-up
- Built-in WiFi hotspot to avoid connecting with your cellular plan
- Records HOS as compliant with FMCSA ELD mandates
Pricing: $249.99 one-time purchase
Contract: No contract or monthly subscription fees
Simple Truck ELD is a smaller company with a very simplified (hence the name) user interface. If you’re looking for a solid compliance tool with fewer frills, Simple Truck ELD offers four different subscription packages ranging from $14.95–$99.95 per month.
- IFTA miles reports
- HOS and DVIR
- DOT drug testing for an additional fee
Pricing: $129 one-time hardware cost plus $14.95 per month subscription plan
Contract: No contract
Encompass runs on J.J. Keller Compliance Tablets, or on Android and Apple devices with updated software and Bluetooth 2.1 or higher. This ELD app provides HOS and telematics data and works across different state rulesets as well as Canadian regulations.
- Automatic software updates
- Driver-friendly interface
- HOS compliant
Pricing: $249 one-time hardware cost plus customized monthly service fee
Contract: No contract required
Overall, ELD apps can definitely improve the driver and fleet management experience. With automated services for HOS reporting, vehicle inspection reports, and safety monitoring, ELD apps continue to prove a beneficial tool.
Truckstop can provide you with the tools to ensure you find the best rates for each trip. Use our Rate Insights tool to calculate fuel surcharges by cost per gallon and miles per gallon to help you land on the correct surcharge rates.