EOBR report addresses driver harassment

| February 09, 2012

A safety panel on Feb. 8 finalized a report on mitigating the use of electronic onboard recorders to harass drivers that provides suggestions to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The document from FMCSA’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee contained information the agency should explore in any rulemaking on EOBRs for hours of service compliance.

Following the U.S. 7th Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision last August that vacated the 2010 limited mandate for EOBRs for certain noncompliant carriers, the harassment issue may be the key consideration for the agency. The agency has expressed intent to devise a rule that mandates some version of electronic logging devices for virtually all trucks in interstate commerce.

The MCSAC concluded four days of meetings in Alexandria, Va., Feb. 9.

Harassment issues relative to electronic logs cover driver relationships with law enforcement personnel and with carriers, tilting heavily toward the latter and favoring drivers’ positions in certain instances. For example, a Feb. 8 draft said, “Drivers should be able to save records of carrier contact with drivers.”

The statement was presented relative to an item about the difficulty of regulating the role EOBRs can play in hours of service compliance.

“Trying to regulate the difference between productivity measures and carrier actions that result in harassment is difficult because it should be judged by a standard of reasonableness that could be interpreted differently based on a specific factual circumstance,” the item read.

“I’m glad we have some recognition by this committee of the fact that dispatchers can lie,” said MCSAC member Calvin Sturdivant, of Community Coach.

In the same section, the committee spelled out the need for any EOBR regulation to avoid giving carriers what could be considered a harassment-enabling tool.  “You cannot regulate bad management practices,” the report read. “You cannot prevent a carrier from pressuring a driver to do his/her job in a potentially unsafe way, yet that is the situation you want to avoid.”

The report suggests the agency “consider civil penalty sanctions as deterrents for harassment” and/or “seek out current regulations that appropriately address” any driver complaint that is made. Also suggested was FMCSA-led training for driver supervisors and law enforcement regarding what could constitute harassment.

Debate about limiting real-time two-way communication with the devices ended with the committee in part divided on the subject of whether such fleet management tools should be required to be included in new standards for the devices. Both the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and Teamsters Union representatives on the committee, in addition to others, opposed requiring such tools to be a part of any electronic logging system.

“Minimum requirements for electronic logs do not harass drivers,” a note in the report read, “but the fleet management system that could be incorporated into the device could open the door to harassment.”

Stephen Owings of Road Safe America, a safety advocacy group, proposed an item for inclusion that pointed out “benefits of EOBRs” to drivers relative to harassment by carriers. With EOBRs in use, the report stated, “carriers are less likely to pressure drivers to drive beyond their maximum hours.”

OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer disputed Owings and anyone else “who thinks that EOBR data can’t be and isn’t changed in back rooms and in the systems that collect the data,” he said. “It does happen, and I think it probably will always happen, for those who want to do that. There’s no way to make those systems foolproof, because data will be managed, no matter how it’s delivered, no matter how it’s stored.”

  • Thomas Duncan

    I am not worried about harassment from anyone but the US Government,enough is enough we are grown men not your little boys and do NOT need anymore baby sitting from Federal Employees who think because they are working for the Govt. and being pressured by special interest they have to dictate every aspect of our lives!!!!!

  • Bob

    Who are the clowns that represent our side? Harrassment? Really??? How about getting the government out of my truck and my life! I’m a free being with all the rights of said being. Stop bending over and letting the unions mandate everything. If stats have been getting better for years why this push for big government? Other than they want a socialist police nanny state. Keep pushing us and see. Civil war? Revolution? Something will happen.

  • “TJ” Carter

    Didn’t Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin, and (F ng) Adolf Hitler try this same crap. We are not Sheepeople. I know when to sleep and when to work.

  • F. McHenry

    Thomas Duncan and Bob are obviously low information boobs. Here’s the truth about EOBRs. In a nutshell; PRODUCTIVITY! To understand this all one need do is look to who’s pushing them. Beside the FMCSA, large motor carriers are. If you think that’s not the case you are not paying attention or you’re stupid. Large trucking companies get many benefits from litigation risk management to logistics management but the real driver is to control productivity!! They see this happening in two ways. First they see EOBRs as a means to restrict the production of other industry players and second they see EOBRs as a tool to maximize the work performed by company drivers. Of course all this in the name of safety! There is so much more I could say about this type of fascism; using regulation to control the market….

  • F.

    You people are ignorant!! Big trucking companies are pushing EOBRs. Because they want to control productivity. They want to make sure OOps and small companies behave and at the same time they want company drivers to always run out there hours to the max. If you can’t see that you’re stupid

  • F. McH…

    EOBRs are about controlling productivity. Big trucking Co. want to control their competition and make their own drivers bust their cranks. And they’re using the govt to do it.Don’t you get it???

  • Mike R

    George Orwell’s 1984 or is it Communism? Either way, wake up America!!!

  • Gordon A

    If this EOBR passes and we have to install them that will be the end of the free enterprise system in trucking.
    The independent driver will go the way of the dinosaur.
    Unions want this and so do the carriers. (Lets not talk about the ATA.)
    Control is the reason. Based on the current HOS, The EOBR unit will dictate how we run where we stop and will no doubt reduce our pay. It will effect our health in a negative way.
    It will of course raise the revenue base for the LEO’s and states and local jurisdictions..
    No longer will you be able to choose your favorite TS with out either driving further or having to stop before the 11th hr. The unit will have control. With the HOS as they are now we are not going to have the freedom of choosing out stops because we will now have the loss of pay on our minds instead of safety. The driver turnover rate will be the largest in history and the replacement drivers will no doubt be less qualified to fill the vacancies left by the exiting professionals.
    Carriers would rather have a driver with no preconceived ideas of trucking. Easier to brainwash them.

    How driving schools train and pass a student is not on the governments agenda and will no doubt ever be addressed.

  • Tom Eastman

    This is large companies, unions, and big government getting in bed together. The idea is to put small operators out of buisiness. their service cannot compete straight up. The governments point is to get bigger. It will cause more accidents and less competition.

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  • Thomas Blake

    I am a small trucking company, 6 trucks. I installed EOBR’s about 9 months ago do to driver log violations, all that has to happen is logs not current, hour not totaled,ect. and it puts your company safty rating at risk, I gave my drivers the option, either no more log voilations or computers. They failed to keep logs up. I put in compters, Fed inspected me 3 months latter, and said the computers saved my company. I drive also, and it is a good feeling not to have to worry about pulling into ascale, or having a road side inspection. I don’t look at productivity, I look at complience.

  • http://overdriveonline.com/channel19 Todd Dills

    Thanks for the feedback, everyone. Thomas, interesting story there. I’ve heard some similar stories from others who’ve put them in, particularly relative to the safety rating in Fatigued Driving now that CSA is in effect.

  • Craig Hansen

    As a one truck O/O, this EORB is BS to me. I already have to prove to myself that I am drug free, pass phsyicals, etc. I do a great deal of local work in the St. Louis area and am constantly changing driver status. This whole EORB is just a PITA. Another way for Big Brother to keep an eye on me and presents just one more opportunity for DOT and others (lawyers if an accident is involved) to generate revenue by sticking their hand in my pocket. Not to mention the burden of equipment cost in a business where many of us are barely hanging on. After 30+ years of being a second class citizen due to a CDL I am just about fed up enough to get the hell out. After all isn’t that what the big companies want….little guys gone. Thanks to my government I’ll be out of business.I suppose next they will want an EORB in my bedroom!

  • Craig Hansen

    Glad it worked out for you. Just think of all the money you could have either saved or passed on to the “real” drivers if you had hired a better class of driver in the first place. I am betting you have a hard time attracting decent help. If they weren’t running ragged trying to keep you happy and still make a decent living you would have never needed the darn EORB’s!

  • Craig Hansen

    P.S. If you really wish to be taken seriously learn to spell.

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