In recent months, many drivers have experienced the move from paper to electronic logs, with varying degrees of success. Additionally, federally mandated Hours of Service (HOS) regulations are more complicated than ever, with new rules on the horizon.
Galway, Ireland-based Blue Tree Systems believes they can clear up the confusion with their product, HOS Advisor.
“It’s like having an HOS expert riding in the passenger seat, helping you make the appropriate decisions,” CEO Charlie Cahill said in a recent interview.
Cahill is no stranger to HOS confusion, since Blue Tree Systems has been working with European carriers for years. “The laws here are very complex,” he related. “Drivers are allowed to drive for 4.5 hours, but must take 45 minutes of rest breaks before being allowed to drive again. The 30- and 15-minute breaks must be taken on time and in order, or the driver cannot continue to drive. The HOS Advisor helps eliminate the confusion by tracking the hours and alerting the driver when action is required to remain legal.”
Cahill thinks the tool will benefit American drivers as well. “I’ve been told by veteran drivers,” he claims, “[that] they have almost given up trying to keep up with all of the regulations, relying instead on ‘HOS Advisor’ to tell them when they need to do something.”
Blue Tree Systems includes the HOS Advisor in the HOS portion of the “R:COM Fleet Management solution.”
Similar to satellite communications solutions offered by Qualcomm and PeopleNet, the system is presently being used by National Carriers and Trans-Am Trucking, both based in Kansas. A trailer-tracking element is in wider use, resulting in a total of more than 20,000 units presently operational in the U.S.
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Cahill feels that the Blue Tree product offers several advantages to drivers over the competition. “The HOS (electronic logging) module is very driver-friendly,” he points out, “with a graph that is identical to the one found on paper logs. Drivers find that it’s very easy to work with. It is also easier for law enforcement personnel to read, which can speed up inspections and save the need for the driver to call in and have paper copies faxed to the officer for review.”
Another benefit he claims is the ability of the driver to edit non-driving entries on the log, without the need for a phone call and explanation to an administrator back in the office. “Suppose you finish your day and you forget to change your duty status to ‘off duty,’” he offered. “The next morning, the computer might tell you that you are still on duty, with no available hours. The driver makes the correction along with an explanation. Both the old and new entries are recorded, in compliance with the law, and the driver’s hours are recalculated immediately. No phone calls are necessary.”
So, how does the “HOS Advisor” fit into all the technology? “It removes the need for drivers to perform complex HOS calculations,” Cahill explained. “It works by first showing a ‘current’ status and then presenting a list of scenarios advising the results of each selection.” He continued, “The scenarios advise the driver, ‘if you do X for duration of Y, then this will happen.’” According to Cahill, knowing the potential results of each selection helps the driver optimize his / her efficiency, resulting in more rest and more on-time deliveries.
Carriers benefit too, he says, because updates to the driver’s record are visible to the dispatcher within seconds of being made. Better utilization of the truck is the result, since customer communication and load planning are dependent upon the driver’s available hours.
Cahill expects more drivers to benefit from the HOS Advisor product as the company continues to increase market share in North America.
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