Channel 19

Todd Dills

The smell of an EOBR by any other name

| January 15, 2013

It’s official — the public-use name-change game is on among supporters of the electronic-log mandate written into last year’s highway bill. A back-and-forth between National Association of Small Trucking Companies President David Owen and American Trucking Associations head Bill Graves in a recent edition of the ATA organ Transport Topics made it abundantly clear.

Owen, who opposes the mandate, wrote Transport Topics responding to a December Graves editorial that, among other things, claimed a broad consensus behind the EOBR mandate. Graves further urged the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration get working to codify the mandate as a rule already. Owen found it “interesting” that Graves never used the phrase “electronic onboard recorders” in the editorial, “only electronic logging. Has he softened somewhat on mandated EOBRs?” Owen wrote. “We know that the Truckload Carriers Association was initially opposed to mandated EOBRs” with functions beyond logging “but changed its position to favor electronic logging devices. Is this just semantics, or is there a perceived difference between” the two.

Graves’ answer noted that EOBR in his mind and those of many others refers to a device with robust fleet-management capabilities as well as the hours-of-service recording capability. And — new industry-standard-acronym alert! — ELDs are just log-capable devices, or what he says Congress thought it was mandating in the highway bill last year and what both TCA and ATA support to be mandated.

But what I want to know is, as a term for public consumption, does an ELD somehow smell sweeter than an EOBR? To my mind the EOBR shorthand works well enough to describe any electronic logging device, given its long use and familiarity. While ELD offers a bit of an advantage in that you can pronounce it (rhymes with “weld”), I’ve mostly refrained from using “electronic logging device” in part due to an ingrained editor’s distaste for redundancy — why not just call it an “electronic log” (EL, anyone?), as by its very nature it’s a device. In any case, I think I’ll just stick with the tried-and-true terminology if that’s all right with you.

Accurately… and automatically
Graves also argued semantics with NASTC President Owen over Owen’s argument that, as we’ve noted on the blog here in the past, [ELDs, ELs or EOBRs, take your pick] may not even be able to do what the highway bill wants them to — in Owen’s words, “ensure driver compliance with the hours-of-service rules.”

Graves noted the statute only speaks of devices that “will improve compliance (but not ensure it) and can be used to accurately record drivers’ hours of service.”

Note he left out the “automatic” part of the highway-bill language defining “electronic logging device.” Perhaps that’s further evidence of OOIDA’s Norita Taylor’s cynicism over the term’s contemporary usage, if you’re feeling particularly cynical yourself, given the nature of so many “automatic” things in our lives. Or: If you’re more a low-level cynic, maybe the EOBR mandate does in fact have a problem, as Owen too suggests.

What do you think? Are ankle bracelets with auto and hyper-fine GPS capability or some kind of full-body motion sensor to monitor on-duty not-driving, off-duty, sleeper and other non-driving time going to necessarily be required to satisfy the “automatic” part of the statute?

Yeah, maybe it’s well best to do as Graves did and ignore that part of it….

  • William McKelvie

    Graves changing the name, imagine that. Wonder what is next? Hmmmm, maybe qualcomm will come out with a cheaper smaller not so program based machine? Don’t be surprised. We have been slamming the qualcomm fb and web pages with the inaccuracy and lies about those machines. Interesting huh?

  • Earl Harris

    Broad consensus? Really? You mean the small business truckers who make up almost 90% of the trucking business agree that EOBRs are a good thing? I am an owner-operator and am opposed to EOBRs because they don’t add one thing to safety, are expensive and were created as a fleet management tool. I have one truck and can manage my logs with paper very easily. Plus with paper I already have a copy to turn into my accountant every year and won’t have to use a ream of paper to print a copy of electronic logs.

    Electronic logs are only as good as the human they are assigned to. The force compliance with HOS regulations, only make them easier. They don’t add to safety, but detract from it because the driver becomes time sensitive by attempting to drive to the very last minute at top speed. Maybe this is why the ATA is also calling for speed limiters. But I don’t think the likes of Bill Graves will ever be satisfied until they can control every minute and every action of every driver of every day. They really don’t like it when us owner operators run circles around their hamstrung company drivers.

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  • C Brown

    Dont get me wrong I am totaly against any kind of EOBRs or Eletronic loggin But if your going to push Govt mandated rules like this make sure each and every one does it. and make sure every one follows the rules. There will be so much freight backed out on the docks grocery shelves empty gas stations out of gas. If you think if we will only have 10 hours to drive you will start having to find a place to park around 9 hours which causes another slow down.Then when you find a truck stop you will not find parking.. Due to everyone parking early.I know I will run 9 hours during the day and park I will not care when the loads needs to get matter how much they need it. The customers will have to give you an extra 10 hours to del. then the rates will have to go up nearly double which will cast us more at the stores. You will not be able to operate on the same rates as we do now barley getting by.You will have to require that detention be paid this will have to be in writing since the customers delaying unloading and loading .EOBRs will affect every aspect of the trucking industry.and it will not be able to survive. EOBR will be the death of trucking as we know it know. And when this happen the Fed Govt will take over to run the trucking industry. They have your banks auto homes just think if they get the trucking industry they will have all control.

  • Mind Games

    What Graaaaaves is not telling the public is that him and his corporate and DOT thugs are blackmailing the smaller carriers into buying these put you out of business boxes so that you go under if you are a small guy when the DOT thugs walk into a little guys company and nit pick over every little thing they can find.
    This is highly illegal and if the little guys would file classaction lawsuits this would stop. Also the little guys need to snatch drivers away from these large corporations and the problem would go away overnight!
    I’m contracted to one of those thugs and I’m looking for a small guy if you guys know of one that runs mostly between Dallas and Los Angeles please let me know I would break the back of this thug (whom I know for a fact is down with the ATA) in a heartbeat!
    I say just cut their money off and all this hell we catching would stop.
    Yes I pull cheap freight dry box but hey somebody gotta do it! :)

  • Mind Games

    OK for the nit pickers and legal experts what I just posted was my opinon and observation.
    One thing that is not my opinon is that these boxes are in fact the mark of the beast. Yes it will wash off but if demonic forces like Graaaaaaves has his way it will be on everyone’s right hand forever…..

  • texas driver

    Still just crying whining and bitching. What a bunch of wimps. There is not going to be any kind of lawsuit or shutdown and no one will challenge it because the bottom line paper is all too often used to cheat or excuse me i mean make more money. Most of the experts on elogs are not on elogs. I am sure everyone has seen the video of the truck driver that pulled over the illinois cop? I did notice the that officer did not want to take the time to even look at it. Most of the industry is electronic and companies still on paper are getting smaller. I think its more about technology than safety. Kind of just like the cell phone eventually everyone will have it. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.