Proposed EOBR mandate burdensome, expensive: OOIDA

Avatar photo

GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) says a potential law requiring all longhaul trucks to be equipped with electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) will cost the industry US$2 billion.

The provision within the Senate highway bill, known as S.1813 or MAP-21, will require all longhaul trucks to be equipped with EOBRs capable of real-time tracking for the monitoring of drivers’ compliance with hours-of-service rules.

OOIDA says the technology is unproven and will provide no cost benefit or highway safety improvement.

“It’s exorbitantly expensive while providing no safety benefit whatsoever,” says Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice-president. “This is being done under the guise of compliance with federal hours-of-service regulations, but it is actually a way for large motor carrier companies to squeeze more ‘productivity’ out of drivers and increase costs for the small trucking companies they compete with.”

Spencer said electronic logs are no more reliable than paper versions.

“The device only tracks when the wheels are moving, not taking into consideration the colossal waiting times spent by truck drivers at shipping docks,” Spencer noted. “Plus, we hear every day from truckers whose companies use the devices to harass truckers into driving more hours.”

Previously, the federal Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit agreed with OOIDA’s assertion that e-logs could be used to harass drivers, requiring the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to return to the drawing board to alleviate this concern.

OOIDA says the Obama administration itself has acknowledged the mandate would cost $2 billion to implement, making it one of the more expensive regulations pursued by the administration.

“It is more than twice the cost of hours-of-service regulations, which by the way are still in flux and not truly finalized. Yet the FMCSA presses on, seeking additional authority from Congress for yet another mandate,” Spencer blasted.

OOIDA made its point to key Senators in a letter today.

“Currently, truckers utilize paper logbooks that are available at truck stops or from carriers for little or no charge. The on-board recorders as mandated under the Senate bill are estimated to cost between $1,000 and $1,500 to purchase,” OOIDA wrote in the letter to Senators Barbara Boxer and James Inhofe.

The organization also said monthly service charges will total about $50 per month for each device, meaning owner/operators will have to shell out US$7,500 over a 10-year period.

“In addition, such tracking devices raise serious concerns about privacy and invoke ‘big brother’ imagery for drivers as OOIDA has long held that EOBRs are widely used in the industry to simply harass drivers and attempt to stimulate ‘productivity’ regardless of the ramifications to a driver’s ability to obtain meaningful rest and otherwise be in compliance with the law,” OOIDA added.

Avatar photo

Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry.

Have your say

This is a moderated forum. Comments will no longer be published unless they are accompanied by a first and last name and a verifiable email address. (Today's Trucking will not publish or share the email address.) Profane language and content deemed to be libelous, racist, or threatening in nature will not be published under any circumstances.


  • Ladies and Gentlemen

    The days of paper log books are well past there sell by date, to move the trucking industry on let

  • to those that want to install them because they think it will be good for their business – go for it.I run a 3 truck business , dispatch 2 drivers plus myself ,and interact with the drivers everyday.I know personnally when they leave,where they are going and when they get back,so for me it would be a total waste of money.

  • Mark has never been to europe.
    Canada and the USA are 2cnd and 3rd largest countries on earth.
    No other countries come close to the amount of truck shipments.

  • I’ve had the opportunity to look at the issue of hours of service from 2 sides, both as a professional driver and as a safety manager. Anybody who knows me, knows my position on the subject and yes it has evolved as I’ve matured (gotten older anyway). I believe that on-board recorders are the only way that you are going to ensure that both carriers and drivers follow the rules. Paper logs, give me a break! Drivers and carriers have used this to their advantage for years. Fudge here, fudge there. And it isn’t just on the side of increasing available drive/work time, it’s used by those that don’t want to work as well. Fill er up as fast as you can, so you don’t have to work. Dispatchers being forced to have safety complete a full blown driver audit to see if a driver does or doesn’t have hours available. Drivers being pushed to work their maximum hours (especially on Friday) because several lazy

  • Jamie i cant disagree with you more.
    Its still a free country and if the govt wants to eliminate false logs
    then use the systems in place.
    All my trucks have transponders that are regestered in BC WA OR CA.
    The DOT in these juristictions can already check when truck arrived at
    the border cleared the border and crossed all the port of entries and
    Also i think people with your mind set will be surprised how elog devices
    will get manipulated.
    This why im against electronic voting,good old paper ballet can be counted
    and its very difficult to cheat.
    You want to help the industry stop making changes every year on hours of service rules think it through and stick with it.
    Build or expand more rest areas,in 26 years of driving i cant even guess
    how many times i turned into a rest stop for a nap and its full.
    Use curret technologys available like transponders thier free or have a small fee.

  • WD is correct, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to HOS recording and compliance. Think American trucks will be safer with EOBRs? Look at the predominace of container-hauling small outfits. They can’t afford to keep their trucks up to basic maintenance standards due to depressed rates on their traffic. Adding to their fixed costs isn’t going to help their safety improve – they’ll be forced to cut elsewhere. EOBRs favor large fleet operations, both from a cost standpoint, as well as simple suppy and demand. The OOIDA have a legitimate complaint. Put some teeth in HOS compliance for all carriers, large and small, and enforce it uniformly.

    A company or driver(s) that seeks to manipulate its records will manipulate electronic records just as easily as paper records. CSA 2010 was supposed to address rogue activities and stiffen compliance for bad carriers as well as bad drivers. Look at the increased number of roadside inspectors today to support it. Why did we have all that change imposed if there is no consensus on all compliance issues, including HOS?

  • Paper logs are not the real issue. Current technology simply allows e-logs to be added to rapid interval GPS/GPRS tracking systems for an all-in-one solution, which makes for a sexier topic. Its a smoke screen to soften the blow of the real item at hand: the urgent need for real-time Driver Behaviour Monitoring, to gain control of the operation, to save money, and save lives.

    Everyone missed the point. With this provision incredible opportunities present themselves:

    The opportunity to make sure each driver gets home alive; to know, with little doubt, that a “good” driver is a “good” driver, increasing their value; to hold “poor” drivers accountable and coach them using real, relevant information, mere seconds after an event has occured (which is the most effective way to change behaviour); to cut fuel costs and pollution simply by learning great driving habits, like staying under the posted speed limit (and therefore using less fuel); to know which customers are holding up your fleet – the moment it happens.

    Technology has caught up with the industry, and the costs have fallen dramatically. $1000 per unit and $50 a month are totally inflated figures. Divide this cost in half, easily, and you get a full system that is paid off in 30 days time. Transponders, recorders, geostationary satellite “pings” and 30-120 second interval GPS trackers do little for safety and efficiency.

    Safety & Compliance coordinators ought be the biggest advocates for this technology for one reason only – to stop speeding and speed-related accidents – to get your drivers home safe. The benefits of this are huge, and come with cost savings. Beyond that, today’s tech is so advanced that it immediately provides on-ramp/cloverleaf activity, so you can talk to the driver before they go through another one.

    How much money has been spent on clean-ups? How much is a life worth? What about your reputation? The “ROI” of this tech is immediate. $2B invested industry-wide will save $2.5 – $4.0B in operating costs, conservatively, in the first year alone.

    Today, a small group of freckle-face engineers can produce a rapid-interval tracking/EOBR/Dispatch/Communication system that outperforms every big trucking-tech company with a slick webpage and a sales team – for half the price. Also, the EOBR and GPS data provided by a third-party cannot be manipulated. Not only is it unethical, the calculations are too complex and must be in a form that is presentable to the authorities immediately. There is no time to cough up a “doctored” report.

    So, the tech works, its secure, and its affordable. The next hurdle to overcome is perception.

    Office and factory workers have supervisors to watch over staff, coach them, and prevent problems from happening – in real-time. So why not trucking? When you are being paid, you automatically give up some freedom and privacy in order to meet the obligations you agreed to. It may sound harsh, but its only bad if you have a bad attitude about it, or if you have something to hide. This is simply the way of the world. Time to grow up.

    Opportunity, proven technology, and return – its all here. The low-hanging fruit is ready to be plucked. So why are the owners defying logic? Is it those old-school values that place all responsibility on the driver? Perhaps its the empty promises made by big-name satellite tracking companies sticking 15 year old technology into fleets that never pays off. Combine this with the fear of recession and a business owner will fight tooth and nail to prevent spending a buck.

    So to them I say think about it a little deeper, look at the big picture. This EOBR thing makes sense.

  • EOBR’s will NOT make the highways safer. Drivers will be forced to drive tired. Finding parking spaces to take our brakes in some areas of the country cannot be found. EOBR’s are being pushed by the ATA & other large carrier groups to pursue an agenda to get larger, heavier trucks on our highways.
    The accident rates for trucks are less every year. Any study you look at shows that automobile drivers are at fault 70 to 80 percent of the time. Until more enforcement is focused on car drivers accidents will continue because so many have no idea how to drive around trucks. Trucks are routinely cut off at exit ramps by cars sometimes with grave consequences.

  • EOBRS are a bad Idea all the way around! if fleets want to use them let them! but not me! I could go on about driver harrassment and alot of things ive seen with Elogs and even Qualcomm, but I dont really want to get into that at the time. I will say this! if EOBRS are made mandatory I know of any small operations that will go under, seasonal cattle hauling, custom harvesting, farms and ranches and so on..

  • Monty, EOBR alone will no make things safer, like I said, it’s been attached to a much bigger solution.

    However, by your response one could assume you feel that trucking company’s should simply stop seeking new technologies – because they cannot do anything about the 70-80% of accidents not caused by them? I am sure you would disagree, and would agree that continuous improvement is vital. In any case, the context is trucking, not passenger traffic. That’s another battle, unfortunately.

    Perhaps the decrease in tractor-related accidents is due to the industry’s diligence to be safer – and that includes using the technology I referred to. Its been around for years and getting better and easier to implement. For large companies that want to self-insure, this is a vital piece, many have developed their own. Its profitable to be safe, for everyone involved.

    Just reading the studies isn’t enough, you have to question them. So many people fall in the “that article looks smart, so it must be true” trap.

  • Eobr are a joke, you think 50 is reasonable? Our qcomm sets are charging 150 a month and I doubt it will go down for eobr. And thinking they won’t be circumvented is foolish. In the uk they use gps interruption to manipulate these devices all the time.

  • While I am not violently opposed to EOBR’s, I am not in favour of them because they will really change very little and I don’t see any return on the investment. Note what Todd Spencer says; “this device only tracks when the wheels are moving, not taking into consideration waiting times”.

    This is where the real lying takes place in a log book and a driver will still be able to tell the EOBR when he is stopped, that he is “off duty”, “sleeper berth”, or, “on duty not driving”. What has the law gained? What has the driver lost? Not much! When the truck is stopped I will still decide if I am off or on duty. It is difficult to log very much faster driving times than actual in todays world so while losses in time at the wheel will occur, they won’t be that great. It’s the not driving time that counts.

    Want to change things in this area? Pay drivers by the hour for all on duty time! I know. I get paid for every minute of on duty time – pretrips, fuelling, loading, border crossing, break downs, everything! If I am not in the bunk or a restaurant or at home, I am on duty and getting paid. It sure changes how you log that time at a customers dock. If I log off duty I don’t get paid.

    Trucking executives -WAKE UP! IF ?? you really want better log book compliance (and reduced turnover) pay drivers for all they do.

    Incidentally, I don’t personally fear being harrassed by EOBR swinging dispatchers because I am not easily pushed that way, however, it is something I see some people could be pressured by. We all need to see that doesn’t happen or accident rates may well go up.