I listened to a trucker podcaster recently.  He talked about a rough survey he took at a truck stop one day this year.  Less than half of truckers use Smartphones Truckingsmartphones.  That surprised us.  Smartphones go with trucking like french fries and ketchup.  Why aren’t truckers using smartphones?

 

Smartphones Trucking Technology

If you’re still using a flip phone like Captain Kirk’s on Star Trek, you’re probably pretty happy with the ability to make a phone call.  Maybe you’re not looking for anything else.  After all, smartphones

  • cost more
  • track where you are
  • are complicated

and you probably don’t have a 13 year old kid to ride shot-gun and figure it out while you drive.

You may be looking at the ELD mandate as your mandate to leave trucking.  We don’t think that’s a smart thing to do.

There are a lot of truckers who plan to retire this week.  That means there will be a lot of lanes and loads waiting for an experienced driver – and the rates may be going up with the supply of truckers dropping.  The HOS restrictions will also change the way truckers manage their loads.  A trucker who has the know-how to manage a load and deliver it safely will always be able to earn enough through trucking.  We don’t think that’s going to change.

But the technology sure has changed.

If you’re over forty, you can remember a time when the most important thing you could find was a payphone that worked.  If it had a phone book, you hit pay dirt.

If you’re under forty, chances are you got a phone when you were a kid.  You don’t even know what a phone booth looks like (unless you’re a fan of Super Man.)  But you’ve got the advantage in the technology game.

Smartphones, Trucking, and ELDs

With the ELD mandate kicking in in just a few days, we took a look at the ELD products out there and made a discovery:

The top three ELDs out there all need a smartphone.

Those companies who sell the ELDs all use a combination of wireless technology called Bluetooth.  The vehicle interface device is plugged into the truck and sends a signal to your phone.  That signal is then sent by your smartphone to the company database that’s keeping your driving records.  So you need to have a phone that is on all the time you’re on the road.

Using a flip phone won’t work.  They don’t have Bluetooth capability for the most part, so they can’t relay the data to the ELD database.  You’ll have to choose a different model of ELD, in that case.  There are a few out there, cluttering up your cab with wires and a “black box” that keeps all your data on hand.  You better hope nothing happens to it, because there’s no backup of the data.

Some truckers are buying a spare tablet or smartphone that they only will use for the ELD.  We get that:  privacy is a big issue.  Most people keep things on their smartphones that they don’t want to share with others – especially law enforcement or their bosses.  So they think that a separate tablet or phone will protect them.

Yes… but it’s an expensive way to protect yourself.  You’re buying a better phone for your truck to use than you use yourself.  Does that make sense?

Smart truckers have accepted and profited from using smartphones.  They’ve found a goldmine of applications that make their jobs simpler and their business more profitable.

ELD Apps

Smartphones run programs called “apps.”  They do different things:  track your fantasy football league, let you see your family when you talk to them, even manage your checkbook.  ELD apps track your mileage and what your truck is doing (HOS) without you lifting a single pencil.  That’s the selling point.  You will have less paperwork to do.  But if that’s all you use your smartphone for, you’re missing out on some great advantages.

Truckers might like these apps:

  • WAZE   Are you looking at the traffic and wondering what’s going on?  WAZE can tell you.  Not only does it do routing but it also will tell you where the local cops are sitting beside the road, but also the reason for the back up in front of you.   (I don’t know that I’d trust it for truck routing – it’s much better to use PC*Miler for that.)
  • The Weather Channel  When you live on the roads, needing to know the weather across the country is a fact of life.  The Weather Channel claims to be the most downloaded weather app available on both Apple and Android phones.

It’s not just about trucking.

The right smartphone apps will make your life on the road a lot more enjoyable.

  • Hoopla Digital  Do you listen to books?  Like a particular music?  You could be borrowing audio books and music for free through your local library and listen while you’re on the road.  Stop in your local library or even just check out their website to find out what you’re missing.  The upside of Hoopla is no commercials.  Nothing against Audible and Amazon, of course, but free music and books are hard to beat.
  • PocketCast  What’s a podcast?  Simply put, it’s a downloadable audio or video file that you can watch whenever you want.  Whatever interests you – you’ll find a podcast about it.  Trucking?  No problem.  Anything else?  Also no problem.  There are literally millions of podcasts for you to choose from.  From NPR professional podcasts such as This American Life to true crime Serial  to fishing with The Fish Nerds, we can guarantee you’ll find something to listen to and enjoy.  If you use an Apple device, there’s a podcast player built into the operating system.  If you’re on Android, you’ll have to look for an app like PocketCast to play the file.

The power of running your trucking business from your cab

When your trucking business is managed with a powerful trucking management software, every aspect of your business is at your fingertips – in your cab.

  • When you get a load, you can enter the data for the invoice.
  • Deliver the load and take a picture of the BOL and send the shipper the picture and the invoice to speed up your billing.
  • Keep track of truck maintenance by miles or by date
  • Track slow or unpaid invoices.
  • Create reports that will show what’s making you money – and what’s costing you money.
  • Produce your IFTA reports in seconds.

You can do all of these things with TruckingOffice.  Any place you can use your smartphone, you can use TruckingOffice TMS to manage your trucking business.

Don’t let the tech get you down.  If a 13 year old kid can do it, so can you.  After all, how smart are 13 year old kids, anyway?

Trucking in the 21st century.  Don’t let the ELD mandate take you out of trucking.

Try TruckingOffice trucking management software for free now.  It works on desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.  What you do on one of your devices will show up on all the others, so you don’t have to worry that you’re have to reenter data.  We’ve got the best TMS out there.  Give it a try today.