Boy, whenever news of the EOBR rule hits the press, debate heats up all across the trucking community.
Can EOBRs really make fleets safer and more compliant? Will the cost of the mandated technology put owner/operators and small carriers out of business?
Well, news of FMCSA administrator, Anne Ferro’s House subcommittee testimony sparked a similar flurry when she announced that the EOBR rule would be ready in September. (Let’s clarify what that means—it means that the Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rule Making will be published, not the final rule. That will most likely be followed by a 60-day comment period, followed by a review of those comments. It will be sometime before the final rule is published.)
So, what do you need to know? And how can you comply without breaking the bank?
Let’s chat about that.
What’s coming from the EOBR rule?
The MAP-21 publish date is September of 2013, and the FMCSA has announced publicly that the Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rule Making will be out by that date. It will:
- Detail EOBR device technical specs
- Protect against driver harassment
- Reduce the amount of necessary supporting documents and paperwork
- Mandate the use of electronic logging solutions
When the rule is published, you will have two years to comply.
Making compliance affordable
Of course, this news isn’t unexpected. Still, for some, it’s worrisome—many are concerned about the added expense.
In 2011, the FMCSA estimated that a carrier would spend, on average, $1500 – $2000 on the purchase and installation of a single EOBR. On top of that, they could expect to pay $350 – $600 per year for related service fees.
(The FMCSA based their cost benefit analysis on Qualcomm’s fixed hardware solution, the Mobile Computing Platform (MCP) 150.)
For an industry that operates on tight margins, that’s a pretty big pill to swallow—especially for the little guys.
Even when EOBR providers can prove their solutions generate ROI, it doesn’t completely alleviate their concerns. They still have to come up with the cash to cover those significant up-front hardware expenses, and that can be tricky.
But there’s some good news here…
Mobile solutions are driving down the barrier to entry in big, big ways.
XRS, for example, runs on a fully mobile platform. With no upfront hardware costs, a simple, do-it-yourself 10-minute installation process, and a $39/tractor/month subscription fee, complying with the soon-to-come EOBR rule becomes a manageable expense.
And that’s before you take ROI into account.
Let’s not leave EOBR ROI out of the conversation
When conversations center on the EOBR rule, the initial costs of compliance are often at the center of the debate—while the cost-savings benefits sometimes get left out of the discussion.
And they’re important.
When we chatted with Joe Ford from Yowell Transportation, he said, “We were sometimes turned down for freight jobs because our driver log score wasn’t good. It wasn’t terribly bad, but harmful enough to prevent us from getting the contract.” Electronic logging devices (ELDs) keep these scores in check, and it all turned around for Yowell when they began logging their hours of service electronically.
There’s also the question of time-intensive paper management headaches that can be addressed by electronic logs.
At Tiger Lines, Jackie Lopez faced the daily challenge of trying to match up sometimes illegible logs with each of its 200 drivers. Talk about an anxiety-inducing, cost-inefficient time suck—time that could have been spent on profit-driving activities, instead.
When their drivers moved to electronic logs, the issue of deciphering hand-scrawled messages and unsigned logs went away. Jackie was then able to spend more time on activities that were critical to Tiger Lines’ business.
Take a look at eobr.com, where we posted a simple example of cost savings that, in time, can turn into revenue and profit.
See, electronic solutions can be a profitability win, and they don’t have to cost you a bundle to get started.
Electronic solutions can save you time and money, and they don’t have to cost you a bundle to get started.