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Todd Dills

10 problems with EOBRs

| June 29, 2012

E.F. McHenry, commenting on this post about trucking division on the subject of electronic onboard recorders for hours of service compliance, offered these 10 problems he saw with FMCSA’s intention to pursue an EOBR mandate — if you’ve missed the news as yet, Congress has beat them to it this week, though the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has vowed to fight it

Count ’em up here, and feel free to offer your own — or benefits — in the comments. 

1) EOBRs transfer a certain level of control of a driver’s log to dispatch. And since the log is the basis on which work is performed, it diminishes the Captain of the Ship notion all drivers must have.

2) EOBRs create a sense that only driving counts as work. And this will tend toward pressure to minimize an account of on duty, not driving time, or line 4, by outright falsification.

3) EOBRs also create and compel a high-speed, high-pressure work ethic, where drivers operate under a sense of urgency to beat the clock.

4) EOBRs have been used and will be used by their motor carriers to treat hours rules not merely as limits to work but rather as mandates to work! This is very important, because it assumes a one-size-fits-all rule that everyone should accommodate. But this is just patently wrong.

5) EOBRs force conformity of productivity or the level of work performed among drivers.

6) EOBRs as already stated exert pressure on drivers to exhaust all available hours.

7) EOBRs, like their paper counterparts, rely on the integrity of a driver, since a falsification of line 1, 2 or 4 will render line 3 false and thus amount to a false log.

8) No empirical evidence has been offered to prove carriers who use EOBRs are safer than those who don’t.

9) EOBRs diminish the human factor, or human-need factor, making it negligible to say the least; only hours available and wheels rolling count. And finally:

10) The EOBR proposal is not a standalone rule. It is being driven along with a change in the retention of supporting documents [exempting some carriers from some supporting documents rules if they utilize EOBRs]. It is my considered opinion that this is meant to provide legal cover solely for a carrier from the improprieties of their drivers on hours. It is what I like to call the “Hang the Driver Out to Dry” policy. In other words, abandon the driver to his or her fate by creating a regulatory blind spot for company audits and mitigating legal culpability for the company alone for what or how the driver is logging on line 4. Should a driver be involved in a fatality accident, the company will fall back on the EOBR and new policy for supporting documents. But the driver will have no such shield for themselves. The courts will subpoena all supporting documents and any paper trail and compare it against a driver’s line for on duty, not driving: line 4. The documents policy change will shield the carrier from such scrutiny. This is the worst thing that not even OOIDA is addressing. –E.F. McHenry, commenting on news of industry division on the subject of electronic on-board recorders at




  • J.M.Stephens

    The hours of service are the same if you are on paper logs or EOBRs. If a driver is giving a correct and true paper log it would look almost identical to an electronic log, except that the duty status is a real time refection instead of 15 minute increments. This discussion always comes down to whether a driver should be able to falsify his hours of duty record. I am for real compliance. Then maybe we can get some changes made where it really matters – at the shippers and receivers.

  • Richard Henley

    I’d like to know how they can consider it the “driver’s” log when everybody in the office can edit the HOS record and the driver who is supposed to be responsible for it can’t. I’ve been on an EOBR for a couple years, and among the problems I’ve encountered is having someone else edit my logs without even asking me first if there was an error.

  • TWade

    If a company edit your logs then they are breaking the law, the same as if you falsified your logs before turning them in. I have been on electronic logs for more then 4 years and the company has never changed my logs or even asked me to change them on the office computer. In our system if anyone changes a log then it is time stamped and has the computer users ID on the change. If changing your logs is happening then why are you and other drivers putting up with it from the start? Like paper logs computer logs can be abused by the driver and the company. Please post your company name to warn other drivers.

  • TWade

    I see nothing in this article that separates the differences between paper and electronic logs. Electronic logs are being fought by drivers and companies that run and operate illegal, drivers need all of the time they can to make a living when working for low wages, companies want to make profits off of the drivers by letting them run illegal, and O/O that are hauling cheap freight needs to run illegal to make a profit. Drivers are the only workers that I know that fights for more time to work and not more money but when your a company man this is the way you work because your boss said so. Come on drivers we need more per mile not more miles.

  • Gordon A

    For the most part not all drivers do and will run illegal. Not all drivers falsify logs but do make mistakes. We are not perfect. However the drivers with a work ethic will do every thing they can to get the job done safely. Factory workers can work doubles and be rewarded for it. Truckers can not work 15 minutes beyond the 14 hr rule with out being called a criminal and fined for it.
    Still , we stick with the job or to be more correct , with the challenge of driving a truck because we can. We do this job because we are that special person. Yes! We are special. Far too many people think that any one can drive a truck and soon find out that they are not suited for it. They in turn blame the carrier for screwing them .
    Carriers are looking for robots and the unknowing to put behind the wheel. Automatic transmissions?. OK if you have a physical condition preventing you from using a clutch and coordinating the fuel pedal and clutch and the gear shift.
    Until drivers band together we will feel the whip on our backs by the FMCSA and greedy carriers paying the ATA to muddy the waters.

  • william martin

    HOS Problems_Companies that edit logs to make driver approved corrections are ok but not without driver approval. Any other should be way should qualify as falsification of logs

  • E.F.McHenry

    Todd this is a pleasant surprise and i must say I’m quite flattered and do appreciate the fairness in your work. I did read the response by Xata(10 benefits of EOBRs)that you posted… Now i predict EOBRs will be mandated! The Landry-Rahall Amendment will not stop a EOBR mandate. Why? Because too many drivers really don’t care one way or the other and the ATA is willing to go to the grave on this one. The opposition is not. Further the ATA has had in mind, the EOBR mandate law from days of old. Days of old being when Werner Enterprise got the go ahead to transition to the EOBR over a decade ago. Those fighting against EOBRs just started to mount their opposition too recently. But I will say the OOIDA court battle was truely a stumbling block for the advocates of the EOBR.
    What really bugs me is the ATAs’ contention that a level playing field is required to be fair. This strikes me as hypocritical. And it reminds me of economist Ha-Joon Changs’ referance to “Friedrich List” in his book titled BAD SAMARITANS The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History Of Capitalism. In that book he refers List who wrote in 1841: “It is a very common device that when anyone has attained the summit of greatness, he kicks away the ladder by which he has climbed up, in order to deprive others of the means of climbing up after him…..” He goes on argue that politicians often operate under the guise of “Do As We Say, Not As We Did.” Ok enough of that. I hope people will see just how political trucking has become, and get what I’m talking about here.

    Ok let me offer some more detail to some of the ideas i offered up. Let me start with point#10.

    On May 23rd 2011 the ATA sent a official letter of request to the FMCSA. The title of that letter read ELECTRONIC ON-BOARD RECORDERS AND HOURS OF SERVICE SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS. It had signature heads from Rob Abbot and Boyd Stephenson. The purpose of the letter was to officially ask the FMCSA to no longer require the retention of supporting documents by carriers on EOBRs. The ATA was very specific in what they were asking for. In partII Summary of ATAs Position the ATA said “One such consideration is partial relief from supporting documents requirements that should be afforded carriers that adopt the use of ELDs.” The ATA got even more specific in the next paragraph; “However the agencys’ proposal to modify the supporting documents requirements for verification of on-duty/not driving time is overly burdensome and would be unreasonably costly to comply with.” It is no secret that a change in supporting documents is coming along side the EOBR proposal. Ann Ferro has been quite vocal about these and other changes. But this is nothing more than a slight of hand maneuver to restructure the rules & policies to provide legal cover for large carriers. The ATA and their member carriers are trying to create a regulatory blind spot for company audits and mitigate legal culpability solely for large motor carriers alone for how their drivers are logging on line 1, 2, and most importantly line 4 on a EOBR! A change like that will codify in law a mechanism that will act to shield carriers from legal responsibility. Another words line 3 on a EOBR is all a carrier need worry about as far as compliance goes. I coined a term for this. I call this the “Hang The Driver Out To Dry Policy.” It means abandon the driver to his or her fate. For example should a driver be involved in a fatality accident the carrier will fall back on the EOBR and new policy for supporting documents. But no such protection will be afforded the driver. Courts will subpoena all support documents and any paper trail and use it to scrutinize how a driver logged on line 1, 2, and most importantly line 4! But the EOBR and policy change sought by the ATA will shield the carrier from a legal demand of shared responsibility with the driver and will also shield the carrier from any criminal liability. CARRIERS WILL HAVE NO SKIN IN THE GAME!! There is a technical name for this in business and politics. It is called Plausible Deniability. There are countless examples of Plausible Deniability. Wikipedia offers a excellent CIA example of this idea. There are other example as well like when a large corporation will sub-contract out maintenance services where the sub-contractor uses illegal help to do the work which is clearing illegal. But the original corporation remains in a position to be able to deny any direct wrong doing. In trucking the situation goes like this: Plausible Deniability is a condition in which a motor carrier can complel then can safely and believably deny knowledge of any wrong doing or impropriety of their drivers manual imput on a EOBR on line 4 that may exist or might have been compelled because the carrier is deliberately made unaware of such knowledge or activity so as to benefit and shield the carrier from legal responsiblity and repercussion associated through the knowledge of such truth or activity.

    Ok someone may say “What Are You Talking about??” This is what… I spoke with a driver whose name was Jiles. Ok not really Jiles but i can’t use the persons name without permission. This was his recent experience with his dispatcher and the EOBR. Disp, “why are you out of hrs,” “you’ve only run 2,000miles for the week?” Jiles, “I had a lot of pickups and stops on a couple of loads.” Disp, “I see you’re logging line 4 when you’re delivering.” Jiles, I logged it like i did it.” Disp, “stay out of line 4,” “when the truck stops log off-duty.” “I don’t care what you’re doing.” Jiles, “I gotta show something.” Disp, “if you continue to use line 4 on your log we’ll route you to a terminal for a log class.” “If that doesn’t work you could be terminated for lack of performance.” “You need to treat this like it’s your business.” “If you don’t understand that, then maybe you’re in the wrong line of work and trucking is not for you!!”
    Some, not all, dispatchers have routinely instructed and demanded drivers do just that; stay out of, or off of line 4 so as to prevent drivers from exhausting their 11 & 70 hrs sooner than later. Of course these instructions and demands are never by Satcom. They are almost always ph cell ph. So let me get this some dispatchers are basically say “do my dirty work or play dirty and cheat, but if you get caught or get in trouble you’re on your own.” WOW how nice.
    I hope people realize what is at stake here….
    It is my contention that this one point alone is a big one. I hope I’m wrong. If I’m not mistaken OOIDA hasn’t even addressed this yet. I don’t know maybe they have and I’m simply unaware of it. Maybe they will…Good Day

  • Todd Dills

    Thanks for the elaboration, E.F. Not so long ago, the ATA did not get behind the big move toward EOBRs, but rather took a somewhat neutral position, saying something like — “Some of our members like the technology, some don’t want it. We can’t take a stand on it either way.” Would you say that the prospects of “supporting documents relief,” and the elimination of an adequate paper trail to prove carrier responsibility for violations that seems to represent, as you put it here, is the prime reason the association now seems so hell-bent on an across-the-board mandate, which FMCSA has wanted for quite some time?

    In any case, thanks for reading and for your commentary. We should have a conversation sometime. Send me your phone number in email or call me anytime at 205-907-2481.

    For everyone one else who commented on this post, same goes, generally. Apologies for not participating actively in the conversation here last week — shortly after I wrote this, I went on a week of much-needed R&R. I’ll have more EOBR reporting here on the blog today or tomorrow.

  • fed up!

    Why is this the only profession to be told when they can and cannot sleep? Everyone’s internal clock isn’t the same and if,you aren’t sleepy when you are “supposed” to be and then get sleepy after your ten hour drive time starts TO BAD you must drive! And this supposed to prevent accidents?

  • dragnfly

    Line 4 is and will remain the problem so long as the FLSA exemption exsists. Pay per mile can be averaged to set an hourly wage for load/unload and detention times. That would be cause for ALL in the industry to comply shippers, receivers, trucking companies and yes drivers..

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