A recent decision by the FMCSA will make EOBRs compulsory for all truck drivers sometime before June 4, 2015. This is because the rule will come into effect three years after publication of the rule, which FMCSA say will likely be published prior to June 4, 2012.
This differs from the requirement that any carrier that fails a DOT audit will be required to install EOBRs after June 1, 2012.
The only exception to this will be short-haul carriers whose drivers currently use time cards, primarily those of “property-carrying CMVs that do not require a CDL and who operate within a 150 air-mile radius of the driver’s normal work-reporting location under the current provisions.”
Basically if you are required currently to keep a Records of Duty Status (RODS) then this new ruling affects you.
Hours of service compliance ‘a big reason for change’
Tighter control of HOS compliance is one of the underlying reasons why the FMCSA is pushing for compulsory EOBRs. Being able to electronically record and report driver HOS will improve monitoring at checkpoints and during DOT audits.
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says it’s just not possible to keep Americans safe on public highways without it. “We cannot protect our roadways when commercial truck and bus companies exceed Hours-of-Service rules. This proposal would make our roads safer by ensuring that carriers traveling across state lines are using EOBRs to track the hours their drivers spend behind the wheel.”
Driver log books no longer required
While FMCSA compliance rulings are often meet with resigned acceptance and viewed as just another government-imposed burden on carriers already struggling to make a profit in a depressed economy.
This compliance change however brings benefits, not just to other road users by making the highways safer, but also the carrier and driver alike.
Benefits include an end to paper-based mileage books that had to be manually updated and kept with the driver at all times. Some other benefits of the change include:
- Public – Increased safety standards for interstate truck drivers by improving monitoring of hours of service (HOS).
- Carriers – Improved monitoring of driver HOS to ensure compliance and reduce the chance of incurring heavy fines and costly DOT audits for drivers that fail HOS checks.
- Drivers – Lose that log book! Drivers under the new ruling would no longer be required to keep supporting documents to verify driving time.
Save around $600 on each truck with a Fleet Management System
The FMCSA estimates that the cost of installing an EOBR to be between $525 and $785 per truck, however that cost is only around $90 for fleets with existing fleet management systems.
Installing a fleet management system now could also save you in other ways too.
Carriers that have installed comprehensive fleet management systems with EOBR compliant recorders are reporting massive cost savings on basic operating expenses such as fuel, tires, maintenance bills and overtime.
A connected fleet management system also addresses another criticism of the ruling around ‘dumb’ EOBRs that cannot tell when a driver is on duty, loading or driving, having to be manually updated by the driver thus lending itself to errors or fraudulent use. Using wired vehicle diagnostics a comprehensive fleet management system can detect when a truck is idling, switched off or driving, automating much of the record keeping.
Rather than waiting to be forced by the FMCSA many carriers have already, or are now considering, switching to fleet management software to improve their operational efficiency, while maintaining compliance with FMCSA requirements.