Mythbusting: The Truth About EOBRs, Part 1

As Xata’s Chief Operating Officer, I lead a group of people whose collective goal is to improve highway safety, to help make our customers’ jobs easier and to make their operations more profitable. So, I put a lot of energy into ensuring that Xata’s products and services help our customers remain CSA compliant, while optimizing their fleets for maximum efficiency and lowest operating costs. Part of this responsibility includes reaching out to industry leaders who can help me guide our product development to conform to existing and future trucking regulations.

I recently met with TransSafe Consulting’s Annette Sandberg who, prior to working with people like me as a private consultant, served as Administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

If anyone understands the importance of mythbusting where electronic on-board recorders, or EOBRs, are concerned, it’s Annette.

As the federal government continues to debate an industry-wide EOBR mandate, a common complaint often bubbles to the surface: EOBRs will ruin businesses and destroy the trucking industry. From hearing these types of comments, it’s clear that a lot of misinformation is floating around out there, making those in the industry needlessly worry about their futures.

The thing is, when I discuss EOBRs with drivers who’ve had direct experience with them, I find nearly all of them happy to have an onboard system. In fact, some of these drivers are very strong advocates of EOBR solutions.

So, to help address some of the industry’s EOBR-related misconceptions, I’m going to take a stab at mythbusting:

1)  Myth: EOBRs take time away from a day
Reality: Before trying an EOBR, many drivers believe that overall work time will be taken away.  We find the opposite – drivers are able to maximize the amount of time they have driving in a day. For example, with an EOBR, stops can be recorded down to the minute, whereas paper logs can only record 15-minute segments.  For a driver that does multiple stops in a day, this quickly adds up to hours of drive time over the course of a week.   We also find that drivers equipped with EOBRs are more focused on their tasks and show a new level of accountability for themselves and to their fleet.

2)  Myth: EOBRs need driver interaction while in motion
Reality: An EOBR requires drivers to log-in to a system when they start their day and log off when they end their day or move to their sleeper berth.  This is the only time that driver interaction is needed with an EOBR. The system will detect when a vehicle is in motion or stopped, switching duty status and recording location information automatically.  While the vehicle is in motion, a countdown timer of logs is available; however you cannot change duty status.

3)  Myth: EOBRs cost thousands
Reality: The FMCSA uses $1,600 for their cost analysis documentation for the potential EOBR mandate.  This is a high-end fleet management system that contains more features than just e-logs, and it’s also from a generation of products that require large upfront hardware costs.  XATA Turnpike’s hardware is free with a $35/month service fee.  There is no upfront cost – this model is citied as the lowest cost model in the FMCSA regulatory analysis and was given the Price Performance Value Leadership Award by Frost & Sullivan.  The ROI of XATA’s systems make up for fees within months on fuel savings alone.

So, what are you hearing from the fleet executives, managers, and drivers you work with?

-David Gagne, COO, Xata

Stay tuned for part two of this four-part series.