In the United States, drivers are subject to regulations concerning how long they may drive their trucks without a break. These laws, known as hours of service, or HOS, regulations, are a source of constant debate in the trucking industry. When a company has inefficient practices, it’s common for drivers to fudge their paper logs in order to make a decent living and avoid being given impossible delivery times.
Therefore, truckers are often against the use of EOBRs, or Electronic On-Board Recorders, because they’re fudge-proof. The U.S. government, on the other hand, thinks that the devices are great for the exact same reasons. Therefore, it has mandated their use in certain fleets.
What will an EOBR mandate mandate mean for a trucking company? There are a few things that will certainly need to be changed for a company that has been ordered to switch from paper logs to these devices:
- Efficiency will have to improve. It will no longer be possible to order a trucker to a destination that’s 18 hours away and have a log book say he magically got there in just 11. Companies will have to get real with the demands they place on drivers or face fines and a lower safety rating.
- Trucker pay will have to improve. They won’t be able to take those physics-breaking jobs and have them be profitable. When they can really only do 11 hours’ worth of driving in a day, they’ll need to get raises or many will be forced to seek other work.
- It will be easier to improve routing efficiency. By using an EOBR’s GPS system, route managers will be able to spot problems like construction zones and traffic jams. This will allow them to route trucks around the problems and maintain delivery times without forcing drivers to go over their HOS limits.
- It will be easier to increase fuel efficiency. Fuel-wasting practices like idling all night, speeding and unnecessary hard braking will be easy to spot from an EOBR’s logs. This will allow companies to train drivers to avoid these behaviors.
These are just a few of the changes EOBRs will bring to companies mandated to use them. Currently, the laws regarding these devices are the subject of lawsuits and lobbying, so they are in a bit of flux. Some reports say that only companies with poor safety records have been forced to install them, while others claim that any fleet that is currently required to log activity will have to have them installed. Therefore, it’s a good idea to check with the regulatory office to find out which requirements are current.
It’s very likely that at some point, every fleet will have to use EOBRs instead of paper logs. The general trend has always been for computers to render paper methods obsolete, regardless of industry. Therefore, it can be a good idea to outfit trucks with EOBRs even without a mandate. Then, when the mandate is expanded, early adopters will avoid the rush and be ready long before the competition.