Continuing to evolve with the rapidly changing laws governing commercial drivers and fleets on American roadways, Verizon’s Connect Reveal 2020 is a state of the art solution for ELD.
We see the TV commercials constantly: insurance companies telling us how much money we’ll save if we use their “safe driver” apps. They describe this in a positive light: the insurance company will be so delighted with our driving that we’ll get a big discount. The opposite way to look at it is also true: any “harsh” driving maneuver we make in traffic will also be clearly revealed. Our insurance companies will know everything about the way we drive.
Of course, commercial drivers chuckle about this. Long haul and fleet drivers have been subject to this same sort of scrutiny for years. Commercial drivers have always had to keep logs of miles, hours, and incidents. Over the past couple of decades, laws regulating commercial record-keeping have become more stringent. Technology, however, from America’s most popular smartphone provider, Verizon, is on the scene to make the transition smooth and updated with useful features.
The Verizon Connect Reveal 2020
As controversial as it was, electronic record-keeping of commercial fleet vehicles and most OTL (over the road) drivers became a reality in 1988 when federal guidelines were set down for the use of AOBRDs (Automatic Onboard Recording Devices). These electronic logbooks, which varied a great deal, were connected to the engines of commercial vehicles to keep track of a vehicle’s (and therefore the driver’s) HOS (hours of service). There was a concern, among other things, that drivers were operating their vehicles for too many hours without rest. The impetus behind the AOBRD was that it would work to prevent drivers from overworking without taking rest periods.
In 2010 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) sought to enhance and expand this law with a requirement for commercial vehicles to have an EOBR (Electronic On-Board Recorder). Many fleets and commercial drivers adhered to this idea—even though the requirement for and EOBR was struck down in court—because it was clear the commercial driving industry was moving in the direction of more regulations of driver HOS.
Concurrent with these developments were advances in digital technology. By 2008, the second year of the iPhone, Apple included a built-in GPS on its devices. The technology to monitor vehicles by satellite had become commercially available.
Congress acted again in 2012, including a provision endorsing the use of ELDs (electric logging devices) in the MAP-21 plan, intending to set new safety standards for commercial drivers in the 21st century. In December 2016, the use of ELD devices became mandatory—with some exemptions—for fleet and commercial vehicles. Drivers using paper logbooks had 2 years, until December 2017, to phase into ELD devices. The older AOBRD devices were grandfathered in for an additional 2 years through December 2019. Those affected fleets and commercial drivers still using AOBRD devices, therefore, are now out of compliance.
Since both are electronic monitoring devices, and both work by simply plugging into a vehicle’s EMC port to record HOS data, the question arises as to what the difference is between them. In a nutshell, the ELD records a great deal more data, more accurately than the much simpler AOBRD. The ELD can chronicle the status of the driver to a greater degree and can be accessed readily by DOT officers to affirm compliance. Beyond this, as we’ll see, an ELD can also be a huge boon to fleet management.
Verizon’s Amazing Tech Devices
Version first began to make ELD devices in 2003. As available technology has evolved exponentially, the features of their devices as expanded to an astonishing degree. This is not to say that an ELD user with Verizon Connect Reveal has to install all the bells and whistles. Indeed, the full use of the platform only becomes apparent when the scheduling, routing, and managing an entire fleet of vehicles come into play.
With their “fleet management software,” Verizon Connect Reveal users can view the exact whereabouts of all vehicles in a system, allowing dispatchers to do a more time-efficient—and thus fuel-efficient—job of managing vehicle routes. The performance of drivers is never in question since it’s constantly being monitored. Dispatchers and drivers are in contact because drivers are also using the smartphone app. Using “drag and drop,” dispatchers can set schedules and make changes for drivers. Customers can be notified of exact ETAs.
Going one better than smartphone videos, the Verizon Connect Reveal is dash-camera enabled in such a way that, not only is video recorded, but it can be reviewed by fleet management on remote screens. The Artificial Intelligence built into the dashcam software is capable of notifying dispatchers if an accident, a near miss, or some other driving mishap occurs.
Verizon builds upon its ELD system by offering a variety of tools based on industries using commercial vehicles. Utilizing their cloud-based software, they can offer “telematics” support to many different industries, including public safety, transportation, mining companies, distribution, construction, utilities, and delivery services.
When thinking about ELD devices, there may be a tendency to focus on trucks and other large construction vehicles, but the Verizon Connect Reveal is also geared toward managing fleets of company automobiles as well. Much of the guesswork about how employees are caring for and using company cars is eliminated in that the Verizon ELD can monitor the use of vehicles through dash cams and GPS. Paperwork for expenses and tax purposes is also simplified because the ELD system keeps such precise data which can be instantly downloaded. Compliance becomes possible not just for federal driving regulations but also for company policies about the use, maintenance, and care of vehicles.
Another remarkable set of features available through the Verizon Connect Reveal is the ADAS (automated driver assistance systems). While these programs are not about self-driving, they are capable of performing some driving tasks that previously had strictly been the driver’s responsibility, as well as alerting drivers of potential danger and road conditions. Included among the ADAS are a cruise control program that automatically alters speed while cruising, emergency braking, automatic parking, collision warning, driver drowsiness warning, infrared night vision, and intelligent speed controls.
Regarding support, Verizon Connect Reveal offers 24/7 live customer support as well as online help. Training is offered in a variety of modes: through webinars, in-person, live streaming, and with documentation. There are as well many other features of their ELD program that might make it attractive to commercial fleets. These include invoicing, tracking costs, managing equipment, and managing the vehicle fleet itself. Verizon offers computed aided dispatch, management of drivers, fuel cards and reconciliation, fuel tracking, and IFTA (International Fuel Tax Agreement) reporting.
Here are the specs of the features provided by the Verizon Connect Reveal 2020:
|Training||Live Online, Webinars, Documentation|
|Deployment||Web-Based, Cloud, SaaS|
|Support||Business Hours, Online|
|Fleet Mgt.||Vehicle Info, Fuel Track, Service Track, Cost Track, Repair Track, Tire Mgt., Maintenance Schedule, GPS Track, Employee Mgt., Work Order Mgt.|
|Fleet Maintenance||Vehicle Information, Service History, Fuel Track, Cost Track, Maintenance Schedule, Tire Mgt., Repair Track|
|GPS Tracking||Vehicle Track, Real-Time Track, Alerts, Drivers Mgt., Mobile Track, Asset Track, Routing, Historical Report|
|Field Service Mgt.||Schedule, Dispatch Mgt.|
|Logbook||Driver’s Log, Violations|
|Trucking||Dispatch Mgt., Scheduling, Vehicle, Driver Settlements, Trip Logs, Mileage Track, Routing, Driver Mgt.|
Is the Verizon Connect Reveal Worth the Price?
In general, there seems to be a consensus that the Verizon ELD system is best suited for medium-sized organizations with a minimum of 5 vehicles. There are a great many reviews and comments about Verizon, its products, and its services.
One of the most common observations about the Verizon Connect Reveal has to do with the high quality of the software. The product is typically reported as doing precisely what it’s supposed to do. The app has been reported as being easy to use. In many cases, this has made an impact on the company using it by helping to enforce driving rules and by allowing businesses to know exactly where their equipment is and how it’s performing—even when it’s being washed. The ELD has made compliance with federal guidelines much easier to follow.
Other companies appreciated how the system provided additional features like Fleetmatics, with the accessible reporting process and the near-real-time live screen map. It’s reported that one of the most often used features of the system is the “find nearest” function that allows dispatchers to route drivers to where they are most needed. It was noted that the system is adaptable to a fleet of virtually any size and additional vehicles can be added to the system simply. Another typical observation is that just about any employee can be trained to use the app, either on a smartphone device or the desktop. Using the software, it was noted, allows a dispatcher not just to know where an employee was, but also to guide that employee around traffic situations to find needed supplies and destinations. Another remark concerned how reports can quickly be broken down in the software to find the precise data that’s needed. Some managers were surprised to discover that the ELD system became their go-to information source for all their fleet vehicles. The training received to get the software up and running was also complimented.
The ELD programs made it possible for some managers to spend less time worrying about where vehicles were and what was happening with them and more time working on actual management issues. In addition to time, several users remarked that it provided a good return on investment with a matter of a few months from installation. The system also saved some users’ money by revealing when employees were working as opposed to the hours logged onto their timecards. At least one manager was able to use the software to demonstrate that a former employee was not eligible for unemployment insurance.
Crime prevention is not generally considered the main feature of ELD software but in the case of Verizon Connect Reveal, more than one manager reported the system allowed them to prevent or hinder criminal behavior. In one case a driver was speeding in a vehicle containing minors. In another case the GPS allowed the dispatcher to tell police where a just stolen vehicle was headed, so it could be recovered and the thief arrested.
It’s certainly the case that the Verizon Connect Reveal received some mixed reviews. The most common complaint, often loudly voiced, is that their customer service does not match up with the quality of their product. Verizon took this system over from Fleetmatics and is trying to bring all parts of the process up to their standards. In the meantime, there have been some complaints about customer service not being responsive.
Other negative comments included glitches in the system such that reports and GPS readouts came in more slowly than desired—as when a dispatcher was attempted to give directions to a lost driver and the system was taking too long to refresh. There have also been reports of difficulty experienced in trying to upgrade equipment or order additional products. Finally, comments were made that the smartphone app was sometimes difficult to use simply because of the sheer volume of data downloaded to it.
- Great way to keep up with vehicles and drivers
- User-friendly software
- Makes compliance and other reports easy to acquire
- Customer service doesn’t live up to the Verizon reputation
- Software somewhat prone to glitches
- One of the more expensive ELD products
Verizon’s Connect Reveal 2020 has a great deal to offer and is working to live up to the reputation it has earned in other tech venues. With amazing software full of IA and extremely useful features, the Connect Reveal has the potential to be a truly transformative power in the fleet and commercial vehicle industry. Starting with its ability to make compliance with federal HOS laws simple and clear cut, the Connect Reveal has made it possible for fleet managers to observe vehicle conditions, driver behaviors, and deduce from such factors how to make their businesses more efficient and cost-effective.
In the rapidly changing world of fleet management, Verizon is moving forward and working to elevate its stature. Not merely content to help commercial vehicle businesses meet ELD compliance standards, Verizon is working to transform the entire fleet industry with its remarkable ability to link a driving app to a cloud-based network and bring about efficiency and the greatest possible return on investment.