7 EOBR “myths” discussed
A few weeks back — on Halloween to be exact: spooky? — EOBR and fleet management suite maker Qualcomm’s regulatory man Dave Kraft brought together two trucking fleet reps — one from a large-ish fleet, one from a smaller one — to break down what Kraft called seven common “myths” about electronic onboard recorders for hours of service recording/monitoring, or electronic logs. Though the discussion presented little in the area of news, I thought it offered an interesting further window into how some carriers are thinking about EOBRs, at least those who’ve installed them as of today.
If Kraft is right, implementation of the full mandate that was written into this year’s MAP-21 highway bill is a ways off. At the beginning of the talk, he revised his speculative forecast for the proposed rule’s likely release in March 2013, which we reported on in August. He said that, realistically, a proposed rule would be likely by ”mid-2013. There’s so much work to do on the technical standards.”
A final rule? “Probably late 2014,” he said, though the “mandate legislation [in MAP-21] said a final rule should be in by October 2013, but … I don’t think that’s a realistic timeline.”
Full required implementation industrywide, Kraft noted, will be “at least four-five years after the final rule to get it all rolled out.”
Find highlights from the online seminar following. Fleet participants on the call were as follows:
**Allen Lowry, safety director for Central Refrigerated Service, based in Utah
**Vincent J. Dinino Jr., fleet safety manager for Emerson Express Co. of Rochester, N.Y., with 80 trucks or so.
1. EOBRs are a threat to driver privacy with GPS tracking and log data details that may be misused by law enforcement.
Kraft: “First of all, in MAP-21, it limits EOBR data use to law enforcement and inspections. Secondly, the systems we’ve implemented have good security and access control — only accessible on a need-to-know basis and used for compliance management and things of that nature.”
Lowry: “Originally, we implemented [EOBRs] in 2008 in preparation for [the FMCSA's Compliance, Safety, Accountability program]. A few drivers had some concerns, but they were quickly addressed.
Dinino: Emerson implemented EOBRs more recently. “Originally, there was some reluctance, certainly. That myth, if you will, was dispelled quickly once the system was instituted and became quite user-friendly and protective of our drivers.” Dinino noted many of his drivers view the electronic log as a sort of “safety net” around them against pushing too hard to run all available hours.
2. EOBRs are a tool for driver harassment.
Kraft: Kraft made particular note of the verdict handed down last year that forced FMCSA to vacate the previous limited mandate for hours-noncompliant carriers to use EOBRs as remediation. That verdict “wasn’t really about driver harassment,” he said. What was it about? “FMCSA’s failure to address harassment as a potential problem,” he said.
Dinino: “We have a company policy in place … that first of all if the driver, whether he has hours available or not, if he can’t finish the duration of the trip, he will not be forced into that dispatch. It does take some preplanning on the driver’s behalf — if you have an eight-hour drive, you need to look to get there with some time left rather than having to back yourself up like you used to be able to.”
Lowry: “There’s a lot of guys that were on paper originally that just didn’t understand the hours of service – operations would spend a lot of time having drivers faxing logs in and harassment came more with the paper than the electronic logs. Under [regulation] 392.3 – a driver can’t drive while ill or fatigued. That protects the driver in that aspect. Dispatch has the responsibility to preplan and determine what a driver can and cannot do.”
3. There is no safety benefit associated with use of EOBRs.
Lowry: “When drivers were on paper logs, it was amazing to me [that] they would come home and seem like they were dead tired — there have been multiple times I’d have a driver on a personal basis … say that when they come home now, with the EOBRs, because it makes them take a 10-hour break, they can come home and function. We’ve found that with litigation and other issues … it also made it so much easier on our legal and safety departments. We knew we had a much more rested driver in that truck. They are required to take that full 10-hour break.