Truckers have long feared the intrusion of a “black box” – the former nickname for electronic logging. Now there’s increasing reason to think the black box of tomorrow will be that thin rectangular one you make phone calls on.
As we’ve reported, big strides have been made in smartphone apps that serve as an electronic onboard recorder. Some meet the logging requirements of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, some don’t.
Under today’s technology, a driver would need a phone plus a hardware device that links to the vehicle’s databus to make the app functional and to meet fleet demands for performance data. Some EOBR providers currently offer this device at no cost with the subscription.
My colleague Aaron Huff, at Commercial Carrier Journal, raises an interesting aspect that hasn’t been discussed much along this line. That is: “Owner operators, and even company drivers, might be willing to subsidize, or pay outright for the in-cab hardware necessary to run electronic logbooks and other safety, compliance and performance applications.”
The reason is they would own their performance data. For lousy drivers, it wouldn’t be of much use, but for the rest, it’s a factual track record they could shop around to fleets.
“As more drivers do this, they will create an opportunity for some EOBR providers to offer free apps in exchange for the rights to sell and market their data,” Huffs explains.
He concludes, “Fleets already pay for MVR reports, why wouldn’t they pay to know drivers’ records for performance and profitability? What is the industry going to do with data? While it may seem farfetched for fleets to not own drivers’ EOBR and performance data now, the trends in the consumer world make it impossible to ignore.”
Do you think smartphone logging apps are going to dramatically change the EOBR technology scene?