Smart phone ELD app vs a dedicated ELD device?

Standalone ELD vs ELD appFaced with the need to choose an electronic logging device, many owner operators and fleets have opted to go with a smart phone ELD app.

So what are the pros and cons of going with a smart phone ELD app vs a dedicated ELD device? Let’s have a look:

Low initial cost, high ongoing monthly fees

Getting started with an app can be inexpensive. ELD apps are available for under $50, and some basic versions are available for free. However virtually all ELD apps require a monthly fee in order to perform all the functions required by the ELD mandate. Over time, the cost for those monthly fees can add up into thousands of dollars. And the fees never stop.

VDO RoadLog ELD is available with no monthly fees. Buy it and it’s yours. Plus, Continental provides free software updates, so you know you’ll be in mandate compliance now and in the future.

Hardwired vs Bluetooth data connection

Most phone app ELDs rely on a Bluetooth connection to get the vehicle data input required to meet the FMCSA ELD regulations. But, as most consumers know from Bluetooth headsets, smart speakers, and other consumer electronics, Bluetooth connections can occasionally have drop outs. If the ELD app’s Bluetooth connection drops, you may end up with gaps in your log. And gaps in your log can result in inspection delays and fines.

VDO RoadLog ELD is a dedicated device that’s hardwired to your vehicle’s data port. That means there’s no chance for Bluetooth data drops and no worries about gaps in your logs.

ELD app taxes cell phone batteries

Phone app ELDs rely on the phone or tablet’s built-in GPS function to operate. That constant GPS activity puts a strain on the device’s batteries, causing them to heat up. If the phone is sitting up on the dash, the heat of the sun can make things even hotter. When the batteries get too hot, the phone or tablet will shut itself down, ending the ability to maintain logs. Cell phone batteries have even been known to catch fire due to overheating.

VDO RoadLog ELDs don’t face this issue. Their power is drawn from the vehicle and overheating batteries are simply not an issue.

ELD Device hand-off issues

Most phone app ELDs are capable of transferring logs by Bluetooth or email, but in many cases the inspection officer will ask the driver to hand over the device in order to read log information directly from the screen.

This presents two issues:

First, the device can be dropped in the hand-off. An accidental drop can mean the end of the device and the ability to record logs.

Second, handing off the device shows all the driver’s personal information, photos, and contacts, including a complete GPS record of where, when, and how fast the vehicle traveled.

Personal phone data vs unlimited ELD data

If you want to take advantage of messaging through most ELD apps, you’ll be using data from the phone’s data plan – and for most drivers that’s their personal phone plan. The more messaging you do the more data you burn through.

VDO RoadLog ELD Plus users benefit from the unlimited messaging that’s included with their VDO RoadLog Office subscription. No personal phone plan data is used.

HOS errors

Under certain circumstances, phone app ELDs can record off-duty travel as though the driver was still in Driving status. This can happen with no warning, and it can put drivers over their limit without them realizing it.

VDO RoadLog features an HOS display that’s always visible when underway, and drivers can see their duty status at all times. There’s no potential to have On-Duty or Driving hours recording without the driver’s knowledge.

Consider all the pros and cons

Fleets and owner operators need to consider all factors before deciding on which device to choose for ELD compliance. This is especially true when deciding between a dedicated Electronic Logging Device and an ELD app on a Bring Your Own Device model.

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