Vehicle-installed ELD vs. BYOD: Choosing the right technology for compliance

By Jenny Shiner

As many businesses are aware, fleets across the United States will soon be required to use Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) to automatically track Hours of Service (HOS).

Once you start researching ELDs, you will find that there are two main technologies available to meet compliance, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or vehicle-installed ELD. In case you are not familiar with BYOD, it refers to companies or employees providing their own tablets or smartphones and downloading an app to monitor HOS. Whereas vehicle-installed ELD is an HOS-dedicated tablet that is tethered to a GPS device and is installed into the vehicle.

Which option is best?

Since the use of ELD is being mandated by federal regulation, it’s safe to assume some buyers are looking for the easiest, least expensive option. BYOD options appear to be the lower cost of entry and easier to access. If your drivers already have smartphones, you can just download an app, right? There is much more to the story than that.

Before selecting BYOD, make sure you consider the potential disadvantages of this option such as CDL drivers are legally not allowed to interact with their phones while their vehicle is in motion, your company will likely have to foot the bill for everyone’s data plans, most consumer-grade BYODs are not designed for harsh environments, and cell phones are easily turned off or can lose their charge, which will leave your business in violation of the law. These are challenges that you will not encounter with a vehicle-installed ELD option, as their ruggedized design is specific to commercial use, data plans are typically included by the provider, they enable a lockout feature while the vehicle is in motion, they are always plugged in to a power source, and are not easily tampered with by drivers.

Although a vehicle-installed ELD option may be the higher cost of entry, it’s crucial that you assess the overall cost of ownership, the potential return on investment (ROI), and other benefits gained by using a more comprehensive ELD solution. Vehicle-installed ELD solutions help businesses get compliant and benefit in many ways beyond compliance. You will pay less in the long run with a vehicle-installed ELD option vs. BYOD and receive more bang for your buck.

Choose the right ELD partner

When assessing technologies, comparing the service offerings between ELD providers is also imperative because they can vary considerably. Along with the ELD hardware, the system and vendor should meet other important requirements.

First, the system must meet the basic ELD functionality requirements under the mandate. Along with functionality of the software, you should look at the provider’s customer service. Some key areas to think about are how they will support you once you become a customer, if onboarding and training are available, and if they provide an implementation guidance and training resources to get your team up to speed.

You should also consider the provider’s experience level in HOS and ELD platforms. Going with a newer player is risky because they are less experienced and will likely be less reliable. Selecting a provider with a proven track record in telematics and ELD technology will prevent challenges down the line, from either a compliance or software/hardware standpoint.

Instead of settling for any system just to be compliant or because it costs the least, why not take this opportunity to select the right technology that can improve your fleet management practices the most? When making your final decision between vehicle-installed ELD vs. BYOD, ask yourself this: do your customers come to you because you’re the lowest price? Or are they coming to you because you provide the best service for the money?

Why choose GPS Insight to get ELD compliant

The GPS Insight Hours of Service Solution offers a simple alternative to paper logs and provides many benefits beyond compliance. Although it is an easy-to-use interface, GPS Insight understands this new mandate is a paradigm shift for the industry and is offering its customers hands-on training, augmented by on-demand training videos, to make the transition from paper logs to e-logs as seamless as possible.

Jenny Shiner serves as marketing communications manager for GPS Insight. For more information on getting ELD compliant, contact GPS Insight at