Outages hit PeopleNet electronic logging devices

Drivers using PeopleNet electronic logging devices (ELDs) are reporting a higher-than-usual number of outages, along with sluggish log-in times and other system malfunctions.

“They’ll log in and it [the ELD] just thought and thought and just wants to think the whole time,” said Tom Kuehl, owner of Kuehl Transport in Heron Lake, Minnesota.

Kuehl said several of his drivers have encountered difficulties with the system over the past two days. 

PeopleNet parent company Trimble Transportation (NASDAQ: TRMB) did not immediately respond to FreightWaves’ requests for comment.  

A spokesperson for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said the agency is “aware of and monitoring” the situation.

Drivers are also experiencing longer-than-usual customer service wait times. “Please get more PeopleNet support staff for phones, a 121-minute wait time is unacceptable,” tweeted one irate driver on Dec. 19.

One of his drivers who contacted the PeopleNet service line on Jan. 2 was given a case number of 1,300, according to Kuehl. The usual case number is in the hundreds, he said.

“They [PeopleNet] said they were swamped,” Kuehl said.

Anecdotal reports suggest that problems with PeopleNet may have increased just after the Dec. 16 deadline that required drivers using automatic on-board recording devices (AOBRDs) to convert to ELDs. Sluggish wait times could point to problems with the server, which might be overloaded as a result of the ELD mandate.

Michael Vanidestine, an over-the-road driver at Wisconsin-based Ecklund Logistics, said in a Facebook post that the company’s PeopleNet system went down Dec. 31. He speculated that the ELD malfunctioned because the computer system did not recognize the calendar year of 2020, although there is no evidence to suggest that is the case.

“We’re on paper logs until they correct the problem,” Vanidestine said.

Quincy Johnson, an over-the-road driver, told FreightWaves his problems with PeopleNet started Dec. 29. “When I woke up, the GPS was out, the Wi-Fi was out,” he said.  

“I tried turning it off, turning it back on — nothing. It’s just down,” Johnson said.

Johnson, who works for a Denver-based carrier, said he plans to get the device fixed once he returns to the yard. He is now using a paper log. “It reminds me of the early days of trucking,” he said. “I guess it’s good for my math skills.”

The PeopleNet outage is the latest in a series of high-profile fleet management system breakdowns. An Omnitracs shutdown Nov. 2 left tens of thousands of truck drivers with malfunctioning ELDs. Two weeks ago an outage hit Truckstop.com, one of the two biggest truck freight-matching platforms in the U.S. 

According to the Trimble website, PeopleNet products are used by approximately 1,500 truckload, LTL, private and regional fleets in the U.S. and Canada.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.