Today’s trucks are sophisticated and state-of-the-art, much different from the simpler, older trucks they’ve grown out of. Not only do they contain the traditional engine and instrument panels, they employ modern computers that monitor and control many aspects of the truck’s performance.
The onboard computers used in most trucks today are multi-function machines much like their desktop cousins. Not only can they be used to monitor truck conditions and driver behavior, as older computers in trucks mainly did, today’s truck computers can be used to communicate between driver and back office, and even used by drivers to run applications and access the internet.
Electronic Driving Logs
Electronic driving logs are perhaps the most obvious application for these computers. These logs will become mandatory in all trucks by December 2017, according to a ruling by the U.S. Department of Transportation released December 10th. And significantly, a provision of this ruling states that these logs can not be used to harass drivers. This means that electronic logs can potentially be of benefit to both trucking companies and drivers, in that the companies will be able to track driver data, but drivers will be protected by the law from companies abusing the use of these logs.
Onboard truck computers are also used to monitor truck engines and communicate data from the engine with either the driver, the back office, or both. The data can range from diagnostic trouble codes, to routine maintenance needed, to extreme conditions in the engine not caught by the codes. This can often mean the difference between a routine service stop and a blown engine.
Communications between the truck, driver, and the back office regarding other important information take place with the use of these computers as well. Some of these messages are in place of conversations that might normally occur over a cell phone. Since the screens for these onboard computers are often placed on the truck’s dashboard right in the driver’s view, using the computer for these communications can be much safer than cell phone exchanges.
A more recent feature of onboard truck computers is the ability to be used by drivers for 3rd party applications that might monitor other aspects of the truck. These computers are much like the desktop computer most people use, all the way down to internet access. This gives off-duty drivers a convenient way to surf the web, so that they won’t need to use up costly data on their cell phones.
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Don’t forget the IRS’s e-filing system will be down for yearly maintenance from Dec 26th until some time during the 1st week in January (The IRS hasn’t specified the exact date the system will be back up yet). So if you’re using ExpressTruckTax to e-file and your Form 2290 needs to be in by December 31st, to be safe, you should e-file by December 23rd.
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