The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) continues to debate an industry-wide electronic onboard recorder (EOBR) mandate. Meanwhile, the trucking companies who would be impacted by the legislation continue to express concerns about the negative impact of EOBRs on fleet performance, costs, and control. The fact is those commonly held beliefs are often inaccurate.
So, what’s true and what's not? Let’s find out.
“If I’m forced to use an EOBR, I’ll have less time behind the wheel.”
Not true. As drivers with direct experience will attest, EOBRs actually help them gain more time on the road. While paper log books require drivers to round up to the nearest 15 minutes, EOBRs record on-duty status right down to the minute. Over the course of a week, that can add up to hours of time on the road.
“EOBRs require me to enter data while I'm driving, and that’s just not safe.”
Not true. Drivers must log in to their EOBR at the beginning of their shift and log off when they’re finished for the day. As EOBRs detect when the truck is either moving or stationary, they can automatically record changes in duty status. Driver interaction while the truck’s in motion is never needed, though a countdown timer is available, ensuring you never find yourself out on the highway, unaware that you're nearly out of hours.
“EOBRs cost thousands and I’m operating on a tight margin already. How am I supposed to afford this?”
True? Well, yes and no. The FMCSA estimates the average cost of EOBR installation to be $1,700, not including data plan costs. However, this is a sophisticated, fixed-hardware system that features more than just electronic driver logs. There is an affordable alternative. Turnpike is a FMCSA 395.15 compliant solution that logs a driver’s Hours of Service data using a wide variety of mobile devices. The cost? $35/month.
“If I install an EOBR, I’ll get penalized automatically. Why would I want to open myself up to that?”
Not true. EOBRs do not automatically trigger violations. Instead, drivers use them as paper log book replacements. That’s all. Before a driver or company is penalized by the FMCSA, they must still go through an inspection or audit. And EOBRs can save time when it comes to preparing for those audits.
“EOBRs cut margins. I just can’t afford to operate on less than I already am.”
Not true. The prevailing myth is that EOBRs are simply expensive electronic driver logs that offer little in the way of return on investment (ROI). In fact, we see the opposite. When trucking companies and drivers begin tracking their time and performance, they’re able to cut costs and drive profits. In addition, O/Os and trucking companies can now charge for detention time when held up at a shippers’ docks.
“EOBRs aren’t for me. I work for a small fleet and only large companies use EOBRs.”
Not true. While large companies have improved their CSA scores and cut operating costs with EOBRs, each day we receive calls from customers that are putting XRS to work on fleets of 20 trucks or less. In fact, thanks to its flexibility, affordability, and ease of installation, Turnpike is an ideal EOBR solution for smaller fleets.
“EOBRs don’t make safer drivers.”
True? The answer is yes and no. EOBRs don’t dictate a truck’s speed, following distances, or lane changes. However, they do let drivers know how much time they have left behind the wheel each day. And that means safer, smarter dispatching decisions can be made.
“EOBRs will eat away at my on-duty time when I’m stuck at my shipper’s dock.”
True? Again, the answer is yes and no. EOBRs do track your on-duty time, whether you’re behind the wheel or waiting at a dock. But, by tracking those hours spent detained by a shipper, you can rightfully bill the shipper for your time. Those are earned hours for which you should be paid.
“I don’t need an EOBR. My cell phone has GPS.”
Not true. In order to be FMCSA 395.15 compliant, a mobile device must synchronize to your truck’s engine, so that it can record your location and the number of miles you have traveled each hour. A GPS-enabled cell phone cannot accurately track miles traveled. If you were to drive a 50-mile circle and arrive at your starting place an hour later, a FMCSA 395.15 compliant device would indicate you had traveled 50 miles, while a GPS-enabled cell phone would indicate 0. Turnpike’s Route Tracker offers the “integrally synchronized” connection to your vehicle’s engine required by FMCSA 395.15. In addition, fleet managers can take advantage of other data analytics, like speeding, idle time, and hard braking, to improve fleet safety and performance.
“FMCSA 395.16 will mandate that I upgrade from my AOBRD to an EOBR.”
Not true. If you purchase and install a FMCSA 395.15 compliant device on or before June 4, 2012, you can use your automatic onboard recording device (AOBR) for the life of your vehicle.
“If I install an EOBR, the government will know where I am and what I’m doing. I don’t want ‘big brother’ in my cab!”
Not true. Only the trucking company employees that you work for, who are authorized to view your EOBR data through XRS’s portal, will be able to pinpoint your location. If the DOT demands an audit, they may view location-based data from your electronic logs, but they will not know your every move. It’s the same process as an audit of your paper logs, except that electronic driver logs save time and are more accurate.
“If I run out of hours, the EOBR will shut down my truck. That’s not safe or smart.”
Not true. Sure, remote shutdown technology is out there, but it’s not an EOBR standard. EOBRs were simply designed to record engine data—they don’t take control of your vehicle. Decisions about where a truck may safely be stopped are best left in the driver’s hands.