After my utter failure yesterday to post anything informative, I decided today to give my impressions on logging via computer software vs. paper logs. After all, properly logging hours of service is second only to driving safely and keeping our wheels pointed in the proper earthly direction.
When I first started, I did my logging the old fashioned way, keeping paper logs. I didn’t have much trouble with this method, but was faintly annoyed by having to void out sheets when I made a mistake. And by having to keep up with my carbon paper. Part of that was resolved by getting carbonless sheets, but that also resulted in bleed through when I forgot to move the cardboard backer to the right spot in the book. All my bad, I know, but no less annoying. Still, I just kept at it and me and those paper logs got along just fine.
Until one day when I looked and suddenly realized that if I didn’t get to a motel within the hour I was gonna be in trouble… so I hot footed it to the closest dumpy motel with truck parking and shut off the truck just in time.
This led me to start looking into computer logging software. I had read somewhere that they would give you an alert before you got into a tight time squeeze, which really appealed to me.
After looking around online, I came up with DDL (Drivers Daily Log) software. I’m not going to turn this into an advertisement for that particular brand, but I do want to let you know how software logging has been working for me.
This particular software is fairly user-friendly. There are definitely some parts of the program that I don’t use and can’t comment on, but the main parts that track my time are easy enough to use.
I do like that it not only calculates my hours left for any given day, but it also tells me what I have left on my 70 at any given time. It also shows me graphically when my 11 and 14 are up, and automatically adjusts for any short stops I may make along the way. So, let’s say I stop for coffee and a little stretching which takes me fifteen minutes. I just log it and my 11 hour limit moves over a notch. It’s pretty simple stuff that I know how to do on paper, it’s just so much easier not having to mess around figuring those pesky quarter hours every time I have a change in my duty status.
I also like the fact that I can print out my last day’s log and get it into my book before starting out in the morning. And if I misplace a log sheet, I have my backup on the laptop.
I picked up a cheap HP printer that has worked great for me. BB put a little power inverter in the truck that plugs into the power port. When I’m moving, I keep my laptop plugged into it, and in the a.m. when I’m ready to print yesterday’s log, I just plug in the printer there and I’m good to go. (At first, I carted that printer into the motel with me, then the light bulb went on in my head that it was not necessary to haul it inside… duh, but sometimes I can be a little dense.)
I haven’t had any problems with DOT inspectors using this program either. They just ask if I have a printer on board, which I do, and not one has asked me to print my current day log or even looked at it on my laptop. They have asked if my log was up to date, which it was, but that was as far as it went.
So, as far as what I wanted and needed out of a software program, I’m happy with what I have. It’s cheap, works fine, and, most importantly to me, makes it simple for me to see where I’m at with my available hours.
One thing I’m not so crazy about with the program… It’s a little cumbersome adding freight descriptions and BOL numbers. You have to go in and add them, then take them out, then add the new ones as you go along. Since I have steady customers with specific types of freight, I’d like it better if you could keep several choices in the program and just choose which one you need. In all fairness this might be possible, maybe I just haven’t figured it out yet.
Adding truck and trailer numbers is about the same, but not a big issue since my numbers don’t usually change.
Over all though, I’m glad I went over to the software. It does exactly what I got it to do, which is keep me honest and accurate on my available time. I’ve definitely got enough on my mind taking care of all of the other stuff this job entails without having to stress over hours of service.