Turnpike: A trucker’s best friend
I'm an independent owner-operator. I work mostly for moving companies in the Southwest, but over the years, I’ve pretty much hauled it all. I like driving a truck, but some years are better than others. And with everything that’s been going on in the economy, I’ve had to start thinking about what I can do to get more business and operate more efficiently.
And with CSA (2010), I’m having to spend more and more of my time keeping up with industry regulations. It seems like every time I get up to speed on one rule change, there’s another one coming at me. They say there’s been more industry change in the last five years than in the previous 100 years. I believe it.
I can’t afford to be out of compliance and run the risk of being shut down, so I started thinking about what I could do to help myself. I wanted to take action, instead of having the government take action against me. And since it looks like EOBRs may become mandatory next year, I need to be ahead of the game.
So when I first heard that Turnpike runs on cell phones, smartphones and other handheld devices, I got interested real fast. I wasn’t always that keen on new communications technology, but Turnpike is easy to install and use.
Fact vs. fiction
I’d heard all about the benefits of electronic logs, but I’d also heard the horror stories. When checking my options, I wanted to weed out fiction from fact. Here’s what I learned:
- Installation is easy. It took just 10 minutes to install the Turnpike RouteTracker hardware. An Electronic Onboard Recorder (EBOR) that fits in the palm of my hand, the RouteTracker connects to my truck’s engine and automatically collects GPS and diagnostic data.
- Electronic logs are affordable. All I had to do was buy a smartphone, something I wanted anyway so I could watch videos and Skype with the kids. It also has Bluetooth technology, and that’s all it takes to run TP Mobile, the Turnpike software. I pay just one low monthly subscription fee for the software. For roughly the cost of a daily cup of coffee, Turnpike automatically records my hours of service, duty status and other information that helps me stay compliant.
- Electronic logs keep my compliant. Information I used to have to record manually is now automatically captured, so I’m confident that roadside inspections will go smoothly. Even the new distracted driving rules that are being talked about—no talking, no texting, no operating a handheld device—won’t affect me because Turnpike does everything I need it to do automatically, without me needing to touch the phone while behind the wheel.
- There are other important cost-saving benefits. Turnpike helps keep me on the road longer. In the past, I used to spend 15 to 30 minutes a day keeping my paper logs up to date and another hour or two each week on fuel-tax reporting. Now, I spend that time on the road, not doing paperwork. I hated spending time on those admin duties, and I’m glad to be free of it.
Meeting customer needs means more business
Years ago, customers were happy if I just got from Point A to Point B. Now, they want accurate ETAs. And they want to know that I’m complying with all DOT rules and regulations and not putting them at risk because I’ve failed to maintain proper regulatory compliance.
I’m also starting to see an added bonus: more business. There have even been times when I’ve gotten business because of my Turnpike system. Customers like the fact that I can easily provide information about my location and that they can reach me if they need to. And that I have the data to prove that I deliver on time.
Customers have even noticed that I’m a lot more professional. Now when I arrive, instead of rushing to get my paperwork done, I’m more relaxed.
Improving my performance the data way
In this business, numbers drive performance. And thanks to Turnpike, I now have data about my own performance. From MPG to RPMs, from speeding to hard braking, I now get real-time information I can use to cut idling, reduce fuel costs and more. As an owner-operator, learning to do things better is important. It’s the only way I can stay competitive—and still make money.
My opinions about EOBRs have totally changed. I steered clear of getting one for years, but now that I have Turnpike, I couldn’t imagine being an owner-operator without one.