Truck News

Blog

No valid argument against EOBRS


I find the consistent and loud opposition to electronic onboard recorders (EOBRs) coming from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) puzzling if not irresponsible.
This summer OOIDA went so far as to file a legal challenge of an EOBR regulation by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that will mandate the use of the devices for motor carriers with a record of chronic non-compliance with hours-of-service regulations.
According to Todd Spencer, OOIDA’s executive vice-president., “the burdensome cost, the violation of privacy and lack of relevant safety verification make any mandate unjustified.” He’s also apparently concerned that information gathered by EOBRs “could be used against drivers that has nothing to do with hours-of-service, and that is beyond the authority of trucking safety regulators.”
Okay, give me a break.
What is it with owner/operator associations on both sides of the border these days and their fixation with government conspiracy theories? No sooner are we done with the greatly exaggerated concerns over speed limiters (hey, what happened to all the traffic mayhem that was supposed to happen anyway?) that the associations have rallied to the banner against EOBRs.
The FMCSA is looking to first target motor carriers with a CHRONIC record of non-compliance when it comes to respecting hours of service. Trucking companies found to have a 10% hours-of-service violation rate or worse during compliance reviews will be required to monitor hours of service using EOBRs. It’s estimated nearly 5,700 interstate carriers will require EOBRs after just one year of the new rule’s implementation, the FMCSA predicts.
Such motor carriers are not only endangering the public and the industry’s reputation with their disregard for hours of service rules, they are putting the lives of their drivers and owner/operators at risk by strong arming them into running illegal hours.
To be fair, OOIDA bases its opposition to EOBRs, in part, on a belief there is no evidence these devices would increase highway safety. I’ll buy in to that argument but only to a point. True EOBRs can’t address such things as a driver who has the right number of off duty hours but spent them tossing and turning in his bunk unable to sleep; the low periods in our natural circadian rhythms or the individual differences among drivers when it comes to fatigue susceptibility. But EOBRs will make it much more difficult (unless someone is a software hacking expert) to “game” the system to mask illegal driving time. And keeping HoS records electronically should be much more efficient and less costly over the long run for carriers and much more efficient to audit for the enforcement agencies.
So that leaves OOIDA’s concerns about “burdensome costs and violation of privacy” it claims are involved in mandating EOBRs. There’s not much I can say about the violation of privacy concern – my experience is that people stuck on believing that Big Brother is out to get them, can rarely be convinced otherwise. As for the “burdensome cost”, let’s get real here folks. That argument is used EVERY TIME a new technology is mandated, whether its EOBRs or new engine standards. The industry should have been dead many times over if we bought into it. And if there really are companies out there that in 2010 still can’t afford to invest in computerized record keeping, perhaps they should not be in business.
There really are no valid arguments against EOBRs


Lou Smyrlis

Lou Smyrlis

With more than 25 years of experience reporting on transportation issues, Lou is one of the more recognizable personalities in the industry. An award-winning writer well known for his insightful writing and meticulous market analysis, he is a leading authority on industry trends and statistics.
All posts by

Print this page


28 Comments » for No valid argument against EOBRS
  1. Stephen Large says:

    Hi Lou, I just read your post about EOBR’s and it has become obvious to me that you, as well as some other proponents of the recording devices, have never had much to do with actually owning or operating trucks! There are a few things that never seem to be understood by you people! I can’t speak for the OOIDA, but in my experience, it is not that drivers and owners of trucks think that Big Brother is out to get them, but rather, the lack of trust between the drivers and whoever is watching over them that creates the problems! If I had to work for someone who did not trust me enough to let me decide when to drive and when to sleep, or how fast or slow to drive, I would not work for them!!! Also, if some jurisdiction decides that I am not capable to make those decisions on my own, I would not go there!! I make a nice living in Alberta, driving my 20 year old Kenworth that can not be governed or have any speed limiting B.S. attached to it’s mechanical engine and I don’t have to fool with someone watching my every move. I have some other trucks that are driven by other people, and I trust them enough to let them decide when to drive and when to sleep! In Alberta, if we do not leave the province, we are allowed to log 15 hours a day, 7 days a week with no recap and we don’t have to have any EOBR’s or speed limiters or any other nonsense and we don’t have any more problems here than you have there! Obviously, your EOBR’s will not save the day! We also do not have the shortage of drivers here that you people keep whining about in Ontario. This could be because lots of companies here pay by the hour for all the hours worked by the driver and it probably has a little to do with freedom to do what you think is right and a little to do with the trust issue where our province allows us to do what we think is right. I have asked others on this site to explain why truck drivers have, in less than 20 years, gone from being seen as heroes of the highway to being seen as a bunch of low lifes, and no one will answer that, so now I will ask you the same thing. I am curious to read your response. In my opinion, what has changed is the caliber of drivers that some companies hire! I have been told that a company only has to hire a driver that is capable of doing just what the job requires, nothing more, and companies can only hire from who is applying for the driving job, so if there are not a bunch of really good drivers looking for the job, the company has to hire from whoever is looking, whether they are any good or not!?? I have found that there are lots of good drivers who will not drive truck any more because of the lack of trust and all the policy and procedure and other B.S., so they end up operating a bulldozer or a backhoe and don’t have to be ‘watched’ by EOBR’s and they get paid by the hour for ALL the hours they work. Unfortunately, this leaves a different caliber of driver to drive trucks! If companies would hire better drivers and pay them appropriately for their time to keep them, and park the trucks that they can’t get good drivers for, we would all be better off and the travelling public would not think so lowly of truck drivers! Forget EOBR’s, pay drivers by the hour and make sure it is enough $$ that at the end of each day, they have made a decent wage and treat them with respect and a little trust and most of the problems will go away! Nobody wants to drive all night when they are too tired, and they wouldn’t if they were being paid enough!

  2. Ray Gompf says:

    Oh WOW…. What’s with the OTA driving the trucking agenda in Ontario? Show me one time where the 105 kilo mandate has saved one life. I can point to many where the opposite is true. What’s with the OTA screaming safety when whatever policy they want doesn’t prove out their science?
    You want EBORs? Then it’s EBORs for everyone in every vehicle, not just the “chosen few” to add more chaos to their everyday lives and open more doors to unnecessary enforcement. But you and I both know that EBORs for everyone would cause rioting in the streets, so why pick on truckers? Because they aren’t a big enough voting block to make a difference.

  3. james mckee jr says:

    re eobr
    ive been a otr trucker for 20 plus years all i see out of drivers who have quallcoms electronic logs is unsafe driving practices now how can these be a safe thing when you see these drivers flying thru construction zones or truckstop parking lots i worked for a company that had quall com for nine months my logs had to match that wasnt my problem what was they made p/u and delivery appointments i went back to no qouall com i make my own appointments drive legal take breaks when i should no stress im glad ooida is going against them

  4. Emerson says:

    Just another person in the world with an opinion over a subject they know nothing about, nor have any experience in. These special interest groups force laws onto others, yet these interest groups have ZERO real life experience or knowledge on the subject to make an educated opinion. You sir, are a disgusting human.

  5. Greg Decker says:

    Are EOBR’s a safety device or a complaince device? I have yet to see ANY proof that EOBR’s are a safety device. PEOPLE claim that they are safety related, but does that mean I can claim that the planet MARS is made of cheese and you have to prove me wrong instead of me having to prove I am right? So if EOBR’s are not safety related that only leaves compliance as the driving force. When a carrier is compliant with the laws what RIGHT does the government have to decide that OK you are complaint but we are going to give you a ticket and fine anyway just because we can? Where do we draw the line between electing government’s to govern and not dictate? I would bet Lou that on deadline days you work more than 11 hours and then drive home with a commute of only you know how long!! So should the government legislate how many hours you can work and then ELECTRONICALLY control those hours? Including your commute time in the hours you are allowed to work? OH and by the way this will include public transit just like it does for us when we have to log “on-duty not driving” when we use public transit to go to work! How about the thousands of people working two full time jobs at 16 hours/day. ARE they safe when they drive home? How many of these people are killed in truck accidents when they are FATIGUED and drive into a truck? We get blamed for these deaths when we had nothing to do with it other than been in the wrong place at the wrong time! IF OTA is concerned about road safety how about they install all the latest ELECTRONIC devices such as Volvo’s VEST system, or adaptive cruise control? Large carrier’s scream bloody murder when you say this should be mandated because their costs will go up! Thes devices have PROVEN to save lives so I think they should be manadatory on all trucks! EOBR’s are a complaince device that reduces costs for large carriers because now they do not have hire staff to review log books for HOS violations. When a small carrier or an Owner/Operator hires top quality staff they have PROVEN to have less violations than large carriers. IF someone chooses to use EOBR’s for economic reasons that is their right in our GOD given democracy! The OTA is not stupid they know that the upfront cost of these devices are not as draconian as they used to be, BUT the cost is not in the hardware but in the freight! How many of us have been 30 minutes from a customer but decided to drive there anyway. Sure when we loaded we had more than enough hours but that traffic jam on the 401 used up hours so now we have to “try and find” a place to park and wait till tomorrow to do the delivery or just go do the delivery. A large carrier would not have their OTR drivers do this delivery but would have dropped the load in the yard and have the local drivers do the delivery THAT have very liberal HOS rules inside of the 100 mile rule!!!!! Or you are coming into Toronto and run out of hours in London ON but the consignee wants his freight today EVEN though the appointment is for tomorrow afternoon. Again a large carrier could make a truck available to take this trailer and make the delivery. Again here is a cost factor that the OTA has NOT overlooked but you HAVE! In this case the O/O or small carrier would just tell the customer “No the delivery is for tomorrow and we will be on time”. We do not violate the HOS JUST to keep a customer happy! WHY do you and the OTA assume that we DO? Large carriers have extra costs in their busines model that they are having trouble compensating for with the historic low rates. So instead of charging higher rates in a “upfront” manner they are trying to backdoor higher rates by using Government regulations to limit the competition! The 105 km/h speed limiter had nothing to do with safety but everything to do with limiting competition! The OTA managed to get that competive limiter in place and now they are trying for number two on their list! What is number three on this list? That no carrier in Ontario is allowed to own less than 15 power units? Or that it is illegal for a single truck operator to have their own operating authority? The OTA wants what will MAXIMIZE the profits for their large brethen and it does not matter who they destroy in the process. If you want proof how about this! My carrier has provided service for customers that most carriers could only fantatize about, but we have taken 50% rate cuts from some of our LONG TERN customers because LARGE carriers have decided that the only way they can compete with our service is to drive us out of business by absorbing a monetary loss on an account to get rid of the competition then raise the rates to the correct level! This way the the large carrier does not have to improve their service but bring the service down to the lowest common denominator which is THEMSELVES!!!!
    I will agree with you that with CSA 2010 finally coming on line in the USA we will finally see who has the best safety records. This will allow the FMSCA to target the bad carriers for enforcement action. THIS PROGRRAM WILL DO MORE FOR SAFETY THAN ANY EOBR MANDATE EVER WILL!!! Or should I could be cynical and say the the large carriers implemented EOBR’s in their trucks BECAUSE they knew they would fail under CSA 2010 and would have to implement them anyway’s BUT with the reputation of being CHRONIC HOS VIOLATERS!

  6. DogDivaDriver says:

    I’m glad I retired! The problem with these devices is that, like everything else, they target the driver, not the companies that make it virtually impossible for drivers to run legally. Sure, run legal (wink, wink) but if you get caught doing what they want you to do, they will dump you like a load of very hot potatoes. Of course, if you insist on running legal, the good loads go to the other drivers who “can get ’em there.” Oh, my Lord, does nothing ever change in the trucking biz????

  7. Dave 'wombat' Wadsworth says:

    EOBR’s when used in the right way can protect the driver from company abuse and in legal disputes i.e. vehicle accidents, unfortunately they won’t be used to help the driver. The companies will find some way to subvert the information gathered for there own benefit.
    I trust the federal government as far as I can spit, and I know, that they will figure some way to use the information the EOBR’s gather for driver punishment, and, revenue enhancement.
    However they are an unfunded mandate from the federal government and that is constitutionally wrong.
    When they pay for i,t and the installation of it, OK, until then I can’t afford it.

  8. stormy says:

    welcome to the USSA

  9. 5string says:

    Good comments above – all true. I’ll second that it’s all about compliance (control). Also these appointed bureaucrats of the various gov’t. acronyms need to have done something when the next employer looks at their resume. “I was the one who brought the trucking industry to their knees with EOBRs” looks pretty impressive on a resume.

  10. Edward Harris says:

    Personally..anybody that’s ever been on the road would know u got enough slowing u down already out hereoo
    Without adding to it….and what about personal use when u need to get to a truckstop after your 14 is
    Up because it took way too long to get unloaded and the reciever says u have to leave or they will have u
    Arrested. And what about these no idle laws….the law says a driverhas to rest But hows he gonna rest when
    He can’t be comfortable in the truck…are u gonna sleep in your house without AC or heat I think not…I guess
    saomeone will have to die in the truck before some others wake up..so much for safety among drivers
    They ought to leave us alone and make it so a company can’t fire u for turning down a load if u know u can’t
    make it because ur too tired to drive…..who is anybody else to tell someone else they’re too tired to drive
    My big ole butt…..its all hogwash and BS if u ask me…

  11. Edward Harris says:

    And another thing…if they would pay the drivers what they deserve to stay gone all the time away from
    Their families they wouldn’t have worry about electronic logs because then the drivers could take more
    Time off. U tell me how much would it be worth if your wife didn’t get her sanitary. Napkins every month
    They were brought by a truck….

  12. Tim McLaughlin says:

    Mr. Smyrlis; If tomorrow Congress proposed a thousand laws regulating trucks and made claims supporting safety you’d be in support of them all. Unless you were an owner-operator driver of 10+ years like myself, who knows what truly goes on out here. It’s not as simple as you think.

  13. Doug Brown says:

    Gosh Lou, you sure like to beat a hornets nest. Most of the responses I’ve read, seem more like a fear of the unknown, plus, people don’t like change. EOBR’s can also work to our advantage. They can be a wakeup call as to just how much carriers are pimping drivers services.
    When a driver is payed by the mile, yet sitting in traffic congestion, or at loading docks, or waiting for dispatch, they receive very little if anything for their time. Is it right that a driver donates his/her time to get the job done? EOBRs may be a bitter pill, but not as bad as some people seem to think.
    I run between the GTA and the west coast of Canada, and the use of an EOBR would take me an extra day to do my run. Using a log book allows me to be more creative, but gains me nothing come pay day. It’s all about my own personal preference. I work with a guy that does the same run that has a rental truck with and EOBR, and he hates it. But then, this guy also likes to make his own rules and work 20 hours a day. He needs one.

  14. Fred Webster says:

    Hey Lou:
    Looks like the majority of those who decided to respond to your comments are against what you are printing. It also appears that these same individuals are responsible truckers with many years experience who are sick and tired of the very attitude you are spewing. Lou-why don’t you put your money where your mouth is and go out and buy an EOBR for your car and let us know if it makes you a safer driver!!!! If not, then quit the CRAP!!!! I really don’t have a lot of time or patience to put up with an off balanced attitude.

  15. Fred Webster says:

    I commented on this earlier and I see that you folks are not interested in alternate points of view. I said that there appears to be a majority of truckers out there who oppose your view on EOBR’s. I also said to Low Smyrlis to go out and put his money where his mouth is-go out and buy and EOBR and place it in his personal vehicle and then tell me if it makes him a safer driver. If you don’t have the jam to post this-then don’t bother wasting my time in the future with dribble!!!!!

  16. Kevin Brulotte says:

    Hi Lou,
    If you think E.O.B.R’s are such a great idea why don’t you put your money where your mouth is and pay to have one installed in my truck? As an owner operator I do not have the money to waste on such nonsense as I have more important things to buy like tires, brakes, and other things that actually cotribute to the safe operation of the truck. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly people are willing to spend other people’s money, you wolud fit right in if you were to get into politics!

  17. Stephen Large says:

    Hey Lou, I know that your opinion is that “there really are no valid arguments against EOBR’s”, but as you can see, if you care to notice, there are about a dozen valid arguments on your blog in just a couple of days!!?? I will, like Fred Webster, wait until you have an EOBR installed in your personal vehicle and prove to us that it makes you a safer driver! I don’t come to Ontario with my truck any more becuase it is not capable of having a speed limiter attatched to it’s mechanical engine (and I wouldn’t let anyone install such garbage on it anyway), so I will trust you to keep us informed on this site how it will make you safer than you were without it. Perhaps you will have lots of time on your hands after you go to work in the morning, spend all day doing whatever you do, and remember that you have to show on duty time any time you are doing anything related to your job, including such things as riding a bus or taxi to and from work, talking to customers or co – workers, using the computer, printer, photocopier, telephone, etc., and then on your way home, you get stuck in a traffic jam on the 401 for several hours and have to shut down for 8 or 10 hours, when you are only 20 miles from home. Oops – you have no sleeper berth on your car, so you will have to get a hotel room instead. Please let us know how it works out!

  18. meslippery says:

    Lets say Iam a heavy tow truck driver, I have my truck at home.
    Its 1;00am Monday I get a call a trailer is stuck frozen in the ice after a warm spell.
    So I go out log on to the EOBR then do a circle check.
    30 mins later Iam on the road, another 30 mins I arrive, another 30 mins the driver is
    on his way. 30 more mins Iam back home. Total time 2hrs. Its now 3;00am I go to bed.
    8 hrs later I wake up 11;00am while I make coffee I get a call to pick up a tractor that
    cannot be repaired on the road. The owner wants in back in his shop in Toronto.
    The tractor is in Brockville about 8 hrs return. After 8 hrs sleep the EOBR wont let me
    work that long because its still running. So I drive to Brockville 4hrs EOBR says your at
    14 hr mark shut down. Then what Iam not tired. Cant charge customer for motel when the job
    should only take only 8 or 9 hrs.
    EOBRs remove to much fexibity.

  19. Doug Brown says:

    meslippery is using the U.S regulation. Here in Canada he would be ok. We are permitted 16 hours to complete 14 hours of work. With the 8 hours off between the first and second call he is legal as long as he takes another 2 hours off duty throughout the day, with no less than half hour increments. We need 8 consecutive hours off, An additional 2 hours off duty as the work day progresses, a maximum of 13 hours driving, or 14 hours total work time to be done within a 16 consecutive hour time frame.

  20. Billy says:

    Sitting here,at my desk, reading all of this made me look around. I have one of those L shaped desks and I can’t see anywhere I could hook up an EOBR or a speed limiter for that matter, so from that perspective I can see Lou’s point don’t bother me a bit sitting here doing invoices and I’m quite sure driving his desk it wouldn’t bother him. However looking out the window I see places where they might fit on the truck but I’m not having any of it. When I started in 1975 we didn’t even have log books in Canada and it was my first trip to the states for years when they asked me for one down there and trucking was fun and profitable then. Now in 2010 it’s no more fun and the profit has gotten an awful lot slimmer and there are far to many people with no vested interest, no first hand knowledge with opinion and input about how I should do my job or run my business. That goes for the idiots in government and a great deal of the journalists who write about it. I have seen these people refer to “our industry” in these type of articles including themselves in the trucking industry, they aren’t they are actually in the selling crap industry. They write articles that attract a certain audience of readers in order to sell advertising to target groups who have stuff to sell to said group, this article sure proves all of that out.
    I’d like the roads to be safe too, I try to do my part. I spend vast amounts keeping my equipment safe. I know what my limits are and learned years ago trying to exceed them tends to backfire, even when you do get away with it there is a tendency for it to come back and haunt you later. None of these rules or proposed rules actually do much to enhance safety, if you are creative enough there are ways even around the EOBRs. The true problem is the ease of entrance to the industry by people without the prerquesite skills and knowledge. The fringe players such as some of the less ethical load brokers and such. While it is not politicly correct to say so there are a few groups that are responsible for the bulk of the problems, crack down on them for christ’s sake it is no secret who they are. How many have revoked CVORs in Ontario yet continue to operate unfettered? I have not looked for a long time but you used to be able to go on the MTO website and look up that list and it shocked me how many were denoted in red ink (revoked) yet if I was in the GTA I would see 15 or 20 of the trucks from even one of these companies some days never mind the collective number of outfits on that list.
    I predict that this BS will keep up until they make the predicted concerns about driver shortages look as badly underestimated as a government funded project’s budget and the caliber of driver will be a more disgruntled, disinterested and therfore dangerous bunch than has ever been. This is already to a large degree the problem because we have a substansial percentage of people involved in this industry not by choice as much as by circumstance and/or misconception about the perceived ease of the the job and/or displacement from other employment and somewhat forced into trucking. You will rarely get a good driver out of these groups who are in the business for the wrong reasons and especially when they feel that it is not by thier own choice but by desperate need for a job that pays at least half decently.
    I will gladly go along with EBORs and any of the rest of this stuff when they put back in place regulation and licencing for trucking along with testing that must been done by the principal of the company overseen by the authorities and not this phoney quizz that you can give a power of attourney to an agent to do for you. Ontop of that make it a meaningful knowledge of the industry, it’s rules and business in general before you get an authority. Lastly if rules are instituted enforce the damn things and shut down the repeated offenders instead of letting them carry on with a name change or even with the same damn name as they do now.
    This would get things back to where I could charge for every extra cost that might arise out of complying with the rules and get paid for it.
    By the way Mr. Large your mechanical is exempt from the speed limiter nonsense here but it would have to pass an emmissions (money grab) test.

  21. CHRIS says:

    Billy, Great points… I think that we are going down the wrong road as an industry in regards to safety and pushing good people that are much needed in this industry away. For some reason we have people putting legislation in place that really do seem to have no idea of the actual problems and the repocussions of them in this industry!?!? I have been in the industry for just over 10 years, missed the boat on the glory days and seen nothing but more and more rules and less profit and productivity… who in thier right mind would want to get into to this industry now? I know I wouldn’t. If there was not a responsibility to the 50 employees that do great work for us I would have to say that consindering getting out would be a great idea! Rates are in the toilet, drivers are under paid, and there is absoluty no recorse for people that keep shutting down an re opening the next day as another name…. why are these issues not being addressed instead… LTL is going to be next to impossible the way some of these shippers and receivers take thier sweet ass time to unload a skid! There is much more to this that has to be look at than just ensuring a driver does not run 15 minutes over his legal time. If the EOBR’s do come in to place I will be extremly disappointed. I try to take a pretty good look at things that go on in this industry and these I would say are not a benifit, and to put a turn on this artice; I would say no valid argument FOR EOBRS… the concensus seems quite clear that from people in the industry who would have to deal with these are against them… am I wrong? I would have to disagree with jsut about all of Lou’s article; Good carriers take pride in what they do, and I can assure you safety is a # 1 priority for any reuptably company, i just dont think that treating them like machines run by computers will help at all. I hope that there is more to come in regards to this before the government decides to put this in place for the sake of the industry as a whole, or we will definitly lose alot of the good guys running up and down the road.

  22. Stephen Large says:

    Hey Billy…thanks for letting me know that my mechanical engines would be exempt from the speed limiter B.S., I have been wondering what the deal was regarding that, but I can’t find any mention of it anywhere!? I doubt that I will get a trip out east anyway, as I charge by the hour from my house, back to my house, and I doubt that my 3406B will pass the emissions test, and I know for sure my 3406A’s and 3408 wouldn’t have a chance! It is nice to see comments from guys that were out on the road before the log book B.S. and who remember when this industry was filled with the right kind of people and it was fun working with them. I sometimes get talking to a few guys about the good old days before log books and they can’t believe that you could sleep when and where you were tired, wake up and have breakfast among a bunch of friendly faces at the roadside diner, check out your truck while it warmed up, and drive whenever you were not tired. If you were a bit sleepy at 2:00pm, just pull over and have a nap until you weren’t tired and drive again. If you wanted to stop somewhere for an hour or two, no problem. What a novel idea that was… sleep when you are tired and drive when you are not tired! It was far safer on the roads then than it is now!!!

  23. Jerry Turner says:

    Lou Smyrlis is just a mouthpiece for the OTA and Dave Bradley who just go along with everything that the McGuinty folks advocate. They have no affiliation or empathy with the truckers and the small and medium companies that make up a large portion of this industry. Instead of going quack, quack, quack, like they do right now they should be standing up for the great safety record that the truckers have achieved here in Ontario, they have no idea about waiting at border crossings, obnoxious shippers, nasty dock personnel and favoritism by dispatchers etc. etc.
    Lovely Lou with no dirt under his fingernails would have no idea what it is to experience any of the above problems with his present know-how, maybe he should take a few days off from his committees and political meetings and see first hand what these road warriors have to deal with on a daily basis.

  24. Peter says:

    OK… Let me get this straight. After reading the comments it would seem we operate in an industry that has to run illegal and speed just to survive. Hmmmm… Doesn’t this say something about the industry (which includes all of us) we are in? Did we, the industry, create the problem or was it outside forces. A number of years ago I sat in a seminar where the head of the OOIDA stated, in not so many words, that speed limiters were a bad idea and their members had to speed and run illegal to make a living. I was puzzled. Wouldn’t this be better stated as “we support measures for safety and compliance but the problem lies, not with our members or the regulations, but with companies within the industry and their customers”? Wouldn’t it be better for O/O’s and company driver to be able to run legal and relaxed without sacrificing income?
    I have been in the industry for over 20 years. I have been a driver, locally as well as long haul. I now work inside but have not lost my understanding for the driver’s seat. I truly believe that most drivers are not the problem. We all know there are some drivers out there that make it bad for everyone. No one is kidding anybody here. But I’m not sure I understand the objection to something that can and will, in my opinion and in the long run, make life better for O/O’s and company drivers in this industry. Many may object to my statements, I accept and appreciate their opinions as we all have them on such a volatile subject. I do think we tend to overlook several factors that play into this controversial decision. I do not believe the majority of drivers will have to change how they operate in any drastic fashion. No one’s kidding anyone… drivers will have to adjust but for the most part drivers want to run legal and efficiently. One thing that cannot change for drivers is their ability to make the same or better money in the same amount of time. In other words…pay structures will have to change for the drivers as well as the company.
    The biggest adjustments must come from transportation companies, shippers and receivers. The days of “we have to get it there regardless” will be gone. The days of imposing fines on carriers for being late, beyond their control, will be gone. The days of “we only receive from 7 to 11” or “we only ship from 2 to 3” or “no we won’t wait” are gone. The industry as a whole has factored into creating the problem. However let’s not forget, as drivers we are part of the industry. Companies have been afraid to charge waiting time because they don’t want to upset their customer. If they do… another carrier is knocking on the door begging to give away their time. We have allowed shippers or receivers to hold us at their dock and then they expect the driver to make up for their problems. Scary part is… we do and have mistakenly labeled this as customer service.
    I think we know where the problems lie. It is not with EOBR’s, speed limiters or log books. It’s not with other regulatory programs or devises, it is not with drivers wanting to speed or run illegal. The problem lies within the industry by allowing those outside the industry to dictate how we operate without assuming any of the risk associated with it. Could you imagine the fun lawyers in the US would have with a fortune 500 company that tells a trucking company “I don’t care about your electronic logs and hours of service, our product is more important and it must be here or else”. Those lawyers would be skipping and giggling all the way to the bank.
    We are merely pawns but if EOBR’s take away the stress and the possibility that, 4 months after the fact, I might be fined because I made a human error by writing Springfield MO instead of Springfield OH… I’m ok with that. If EOBR’s allow me the freedom of not having to worry about every little receipt issued during my trip matching a paper log… I won’t argue. If EOBR’s allow me to work less and make the same or possibly more… I won’t argue. If EOBR’s give me the tools to stick it back in the face of an arrogant shipper or receiver… I’m ok with that.
    I will tell you this, if others don’t change… we have a problem. Think of the economic clout EOBR’s gives the industry. It provides us the tools to make our jobs better. We may not see it now but EOBR’s very well could bring the pride and professionalism back to this industry. Without others changing and showing respect people won’t eat, have that new pair of shoes, fuel for their cars or even have a car.
    In my opinion (here I go again and for what it’s worth) we have to stop looking at trying to blend or adapt these new technologies and or ideas to the way it was. We need to steep back, look at what we have or what is coming and use them for our benefit. As an O/O we could say it’s better to have it like it was, “pay me more because I’m still getting 4 miles to the gallon”. Better yet is “pay me the same as you are paying the 4 mpg guy and I’ll use that new technology that get’s me 8 mpg”. Seems logical to me to make more money. Or perhaps it’s better to pull off the road, fight to find a parking spot, wait for the pay phone, call the customer for directions, go back to your truck, curse about the scratch that some other “nonprofessional” driver put down the side of it when he pulled out, head back out onto the road and try to merge in between the two 74 year old, former office workers, pulling their newly purchased and first time use 45’ fifth wheel campers….finally… back on the road. Or perhaps… we should just reach up and hit the Bluetooth and call the customer form the truck repeating the directions into our voice recorder. Hmmmm I’d almost bet that many who object to EOBR’s have pushed that Bluetooth button a few times.
    So perhaps when the EOBR’s come in, as O/O’s, company drivers and trucking companies, we should get paid by the hour regardless if the truck runs. Time is time no mater how you record it. As an industry we need to figure out how to get paid for what we do and what we have invested. Let’s stop letting others dictate. We need to step back and figure out how this will work to our benefit.
    We fight with personal freedom and many of us that have driven have done so because we don’t want someone hanging over our shoulder telling us what to do. Well…times change… We have speed limiters, we will have EOBR’s, we will have a 72 ounce big gulp, we will have flexible TV screens, we will have liquid computer memory…wait… we already have the last 3. There will be many more things to come. Let’s figure out how to use them to our advantage.
    One final thing… The playing field must be a level one. If we’re going to have EOBR’s then every commercial vehicle should have one.
    Thanks for allowing me to share my opinions, ramblings and for reading this far.

  25. meslippery says:

    I agree with a lot of what you say Peter But here is what it comes down to.
    Its Friday summer 2:00pm heading home 3 hrs from the yard long weekend off with
    the family EOBR says stop now for 10 hrs.I could be home for 6:00 pm BBQ or
    spend 10hrs at 2:00 pm hanging out at truck stop.
    Before you say that dose not come up that often, it could be Shut down at a time
    that wont let me get to a load before 5:00pm close on a Friday. So for the sake of
    2Hrs I get to spend the weekend in Gary Indiana by my self unpaid fun not.
    Flexibility is not just for Carriers or shippers

  26. meslippery says:

    Peter said
    In my opinion (here I go again and for what it’s worth) we have to stop looking at trying to blend or adapt these new technologies and or ideas to the way it was. We need to steep back, look at what we have or what is coming and use them for our benefit. As an O/O we could say it’s better to have it like it was, “pay me more because I’m still getting 4 miles to the gallon”. Better yet is “pay me the same as you are paying the 4 mpg guy and I’ll use that new technology that get’s me 8 mpg”.
    ———————————————————————————————
    Trucks at the time of 4 mpg where paying .50 cents per litre.
    Trucks at the time of 8 mpg are paying $1.00 per litre.
    More or less but you get the idea cost of fuel per mile is the same.

  27. Dear LOu:
    Excellent article and your blunt perspectives. Hard not to agree with you. I am enjoying the diversity of opinions on the EBOR issue. You have created a great exchange of ideas and opinions. I hope the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is readings these comments.
    Give them hell, Lou.
    Mark Borkowski

  28. I rarely sit on the fence. I will state my reasons for both views and then tell you ultimately where we stand. AGAINST- Our Country was founded as a republic free from burdensome laws to regulate every activity of our lives. We should simply hold people accountable when a wrong has been committed against another. This view is in opposition to simply not following a regulation. FOR- There is a profit incentive that is in contrast to safety (i.e. the more miles you put in the more you get paid) causing some companies and/or drivers to run when fatigued. I ultimately don’t want anyone tired on the roads and unfortunately when you are in a business (like trucking) it is easier and many times necessary to temper the profit motive with safety regulations. My experience of over 18 years of reviewing Trucking Company log books tells me that a very high percentage of Companies do support running over hours and falsifying log books. EOBRs would limit false log books and thereby even the playing field. Many drivers in this forum say if they don’t run illegal then the good load goes to the driver that will. An EOBR requirement would drastically limit those circumstances. As for price, that’s going out the window. With new technology price is coming down all the time. For the record understand this, I am in the Truck Safety Consulting business and EOBRs are bad for my business. With EOBRs there are less supporting documents, less false log books to review, lesss violations for us to help correct, I hope you get the picture. My point is they would be bad for my businesss just like it might be bad for some truckers and trucking companies, however I still utlimately fee like it’s the right thing to do. If we can help you with any regulations or training please contact us. Ultimately my job is to help you comply with existing laws, and that’s my number one mission, even if we don’t agree on everything. L Huskey- midwestdot.com

Have your say:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*