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Overdrive Extra

Max Heine

Taking charge of your own EOBR data

| February 21, 2013

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.

Will smartphone apps supplant logging-specific devices?

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?

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  • Dave Nichols

    my carrier, like all of them is required to gather and maintain my log book records, paper or otherwise. So the form I present to them is not my choice. They specifiy a scannable paper log page, (which I must buy) and I don’t have much say as to where the data goes

  • Eric

    The one real question is fed our making everyone go to this as a reg but have they really thought about all of the company’s
    You have
    hotshot company that no one has a EROB for them
    Trucking company’s that run older truck that don’t have ports
    O/O that run local that don’t even run log books
    Then you have all the local lumber and construction company that well get out of this reg that really need to be looked at

  • Andrea Sitler

    Our O/Os supply their own logbooks. We are moving to a dispatch system that will use an Android app, doing the same with the logs just seems logical. It should be add simplicity to the issue. Of course drivers who want to say they are working when they are goofing off or hard runners who have to shut down before they desire will view any e-log with adversity. With the mandate coming to enforce such logging policies, it is a price efficient option for all.

  • Don Lanier

    Ive been trying the BIG ROAD APP and playing with it for a while, while Im against the Forced EOBR mandates, I can see where an electronic log could be a time save, a easier way to collect IFTA taxes and be correct in that reporting etc…Ive just started using it and so far I like what I see…owning the data is a big plus, how many carriers will willingly give you a copy of theres…NONE….Ive used a paper log always, but this could be a game changer for me, logs are printable, email capable, even an INSPECTION MODE…and again since its MY phone the data is mine alone….

  • Patrick

    I too have been using the BIG ROAD APP in my phone for sometime, and agree with Don, it’s easy to use, the data is easily accessable and if a carrier wants to subscribe they can also access the data. The best part I have found is keeping track of the HOS and then printing the logs for submission. Also the app will prompt for a “stop driving?” when it realizes the vehicle has stopped and vise-versa when traveling. The app is completely editable with time stamps and locations included. It is however only for HOS and Inspections no vehicle data ie: driving speed, cruise time etc is logged..

  • BigRoad Inc.

    We launched BigRoad in June 2012 and in just a little over 7 months have seen over 42,000 drivers download and use our electronic logs. Many of these drivers have taken it to their fleet managers and then the fleet implements it across the board. The data is available online for the driver AND the fleet – the way it should be since the drivers take personal responsibility for their logs, they should have easy access to them. It becomes their ‘history’ of compliance and professionalism, and something perhaps to defend themselves with should their professionalism or safety record be questioned.
    Kelly, CEO and CoFounder BigRoad

  • tryin

    Well this is a step in the right direction but there is a number of things that need to be done when talking about driver provided equipment, mainly the mandated training and written instructions that have to be kept with the unit/truck so it can be considered an EOBR. Self-certification is not an issue for most of the systems that are out there (meaning anyone who can write the program can self-certify seeing the FMCSA and DOT don’t certify anything) but the issue comes up with customer service after the installation and the ability to print to meet the rules of the “hand written signature” rule in the regulations (that is to ensure that each log is reviewed and confirmed as true and genuine. The company doesn’t even have to be the decision maker for many of the drivers, they don’t have to have their logs in electronic form if the driver is using an EOBR and can accept the printed copy with the”hand written signature” on it. This issue can open the door for signature pads to ensure compliance because each signature is different with each printed copy of the log sheet – if that makes sense.

  • Eric

    I’ve been using the BigRoad app for …..months…since last year. Kelly and his staff are great…receptive to suggestion and they are making the app better with every update. I am a 100-mile radius driver 95% of the time. I operate many different trucks and tractor-trailers…sometime up to 3-4 different units a day; that’s because i am a heavy-duty driver at a towing company. Every once and a while I have to travel outside my 100-mile radius and I need to generate my previous 7 days of activity; the BigRoad app makes it simple for me. I keep my log up to date everyday so i can just go to the BigRoad website, log in and print out my previous 7 days. I have to print it out because enforcement in my area; New York and Connecticut; will not accept simply reviewing my logs on my phone and/or e-mailing the logs to the trooper. Aside from that…..I’m very pleased with BigRoad. I’m sure that this will change in the future…Keep up the the good work BigRoad…fight the good fight!!!!

  • Brad Lambert

    I installed the Big Road app on my phone and I was reading the “End User License agreement,” it specifically states that Big Road has the right to share your information with any government agency. I wouldnt mind if you could turn the GPS off, then I would gladly use it. But, IMO this is a babysitter.

  • Dave Nichols

    make sure you have a secure password to lock the phone. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.