ABCs of EOBRs
Jun 1, 2010 12:00 PM, By Rick Weber
Panel dissects the costs, methods of implementation, benefits, and driver acceptance
The US Department of Transportation's (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published the final rule on EOBRs (electronic on-board recorders) in the Federal Register on April 2. The rule goes into effect June 1, 2012, and will affect carriers with 10% or greater hours-of-service (HOS) violations during a single compliance review.
Under the rule, carriers that exceed the threshold will be required to install EOBRs in all their vehicles for a minimum of two years. It also mandates technical reporting standards for the devices, such as recording the date, time, and location of a driver's duty status. Carriers that voluntarily adopt EOBRs get relief from some of FMCSA's HOS supporting documents, such as toll receipts to check the accuracy of a driver's log.
National Tank Truck Carriers assembled a panel of executives from carriers that have installed EOBRs to address the issue during the annual Tank Truck Safety & Security Council Seminar in Nashville, Tennessee. In “Myths and Facts About EOBRs,” panelists discussed the costs, methods of implementation, benefits, and driver acceptance.
Jim Anderson, Florida Rock & Tank Lines Inc: “We're using Qualcomm's e-log system. We started last year. It became clear to me that FMCSA would use the electronic data we already have in our system as a standard. If that's the standard we're going to be held to, there was no reason we shouldn't move forward with e-logs.”
Becky Perlaky, Kenan Advantage Group Inc: “We have a combination of Cadec's system in the fuels local delivery group, and we operate some Qualcomm units on longer hauls. We made a decision to test a number of different systems in 2007. We were looking for a system that would have flexibility and allow us to deal with behavioral issues with drivers. We wanted to move toward paperless with dispatch and billing.”
Steve Niswander, Groendyke Transport Inc: “We started in October 2008 with test terminals. The drivers bought into it because of a lack of paperwork. We expect onboard electronic logging to be fully operational in June. We've lost two to three drivers because of it in a fleet of over 900. It was because of some of stories and rumors they heard or had been fed by someone that they were going to lose money.”
Neil Voorhees, Trimac Transportation Services: “We decided to put Qualcomm units on all tractors. It was the logical next step to go this direction for compliance. We lost seven owner-operators because their trucks did not have ECMs. They had to upgrade their trucks or go somewhere else. They decided to leave. We were fully onboard by April 17. Drivers were so happy to be away from paper logs because it takes the stress level away from having to worry about logs matching all documents. I've driven trucks and know how difficult that is.”
Anderson: “My biggest concern was the thought of Big Brother. So we did our homework and talked to companies that already had the system and to their drivers. We put communication tapes together and a DVD describing the process. We've had very limited pushback. They all understood it was coming and it was time to get on board.”
Niswander: “There was some skepticism from drivers who heard we were in EOBRs. The question was not, ‘Why are you doing this?' It was, ‘When can I put this in my truck, because I have a dispatcher on my butt and I want to electronically tell him I can't do the load?’ Or, ‘I have a shipper who says this load needs to get there at a certain time. Electronically, I have the backup that says I can't make it.’ There is a sentiment in the driver community that this may be their saving grace because of a short-sighted, unmanageable situation created by a dispatcher or shipper.”
Perlaky: “There was fear we would lose drivers. We did find that in some areas. Some of the drivers were concerned, but as you communicated and spent time with them, it was more concern that they were nervous about using the system. They didn't know how difficult it would be. One driver came to me and said, ‘I'm not a very smart individual. I'm a truck driver.’ I said, ‘If you have difficulty with the system, I'll go with you all day long until you're familiar with it.’ We actually used him to talk to other drivers to let them know how simple it was. We found out by our mistakes. We installed the EOBRs thinking, ‘OK, it's a push-button touch screen. You can read through it.’ We found you need to take time to make drivers comfortable with it. We developed a rollout team that would spend time with the driver and then move on. We had a dozen owner-operators who said they were not going to do it, but they have come back.”
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