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Electronic On-board Recorders: Do EOBRs Protect People or Propel Profits?

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EOBRs

Technology has created quite a name for itself by making several aspects of the human experience better. However, as with any form of technology, there are pros and cons. Take transportation for instance. Many truckers would rather be told how to get somewhere via GPS, than being told on for how long they took to get there via electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs). These devices are–and have been–causing quite a stir in the trucking industry, with everyone from truck drivers and owner-operators to DOT administrators stepping up to weigh in on the matter.

This week a discussion involving the controversial topic emerged. During the General Session of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s workshop on April 23 in Louisville, Ky, Bulldog Hiway Express President Phil Byrd, representing American Trucking Associations (ATA), suggested shifting focus from roadside inspections to traffic law enforcement. He cited several statistics to support his position including the fact that “87 percent of crashes are the result of driver error or driver behavior.” Byrd’s commentary also referenced the need for placing greater emphasis on car drivers instead of automatically blaming truckers.

Similar sentiments were echoed by FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro who called for roadside inspections in addition to high-visibility enforcement. Ferro advocated for compliance and accountability as a way to improve road safety. She went on to confirm the electronic-log mandate Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNPRM) could come as early as September 2013.

According to Overdrive Magazine, the rule would do four things:

  1. Require elogs for all truck and bus carriers using paper logs today
  2. Include provisions that prohibit the devices’ use for harassment
  3. Specify device technical standards
  4. Specify the required level of supporting document retention, which would be considerably lessened compared to the paper environment.

Currently, most carriers and drivers use paper logs to record hours of service and EOBR use is only mandatory among companies with poor compliance records. This latest rule, originally proposed by FMCSA in 2011, could require all commercial truck and bus companies to adopt EOBRs. Fueling the contention is the hefty price tag associated with training and implementation–a whopping $300 million. FMCSA estimates each device will cost between $1,500 to $2,000 per commercial motor vehicle to purchase and install.

In 2012, Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) filed a court action against FMCSA claiming EOBRs had the potential to be used as harrassment devices. OOIDA asserts “EOBRs are no more a reliable or accurate record of a driver’s compliance with HOS regulations than paper log books and there remains no rational basis for the economic burden and unreasonable imposition to personal privacy presented by requiring drivers to be monitored by EOBRs.”

U-turn: Do you agree that EOBRs should become mandatory for all commercial truck and bus companies? What do you prefer: paper logs or electronic on-board recorders? Get the conversation started in our comments section!

 

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5 Comments

  1. robert says:

    they slow a diver down ,A lot of what comes through the on bored computer is irelevent to a drivers need the trucking industrie should reconcider or look for even a better way, to keep up with d o t regulations

    Reply
  2. Adam S. says:

    I think the H.O.S. rules should be rethought. A driver should sleep when tired. Being held up getting unloaded or by poor dispatching can eat up to much of a drivers available hours. I stopped driving over the road because I got tired of tossing and turning not being able to fall asleep for ten hours, then driving exhausted because I’m sleeping and driving to my available hours, not when I’m fatigued and need rest. EOBR’s will do nothing to help this problem.

    Reply
  3. jim says:

    I think EOBR will drive the cost of products up and make it next to impossible for solo drivers to make a living considering how long it takes getting loaded and unloaded at shippers/consignees. Have sat for 6 hours at shippers, would nap so i can drive, but with new recorders , my 14 hour day would end before i could make a dent in my schedules driving miles

    Reply
  4. Tommie M. says:

    I believe you can’t regulate trucking by the opposite of the way a driver is paid. If they want to use electronic logs then pay drivers by the hour so the driver doesn’t have to deal with the problems to be associated with electronic logs. You don’t see them trying this with cars (to many of them can Vote!)

    Reply
  5. The use of EOBRs among commercial carriers is rising steadily, as a rapidly growing number of fleets and independents are adopting electronic logbooks in place of paper logs in order to manage their Hours of Service (HOS) compliance to protect and improve their CSA scores.

    Reply

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