In advance of the upcoming conference committee meetings on the surface transportation bill, the American Trucking Associations and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association are urging passage or rejection (respectively) of the Senate's EOBR requirement.
Calling it the right thing to do for highway safety, ATA President and CEO Bill Graves is calling on committee members to require motor carriers use electronic logging devices to promote drivers' compliance with hours of service driving limits.
"We urge conferees in both bodies to adopt the Senate's requirement for carriers to use electronic logging devices to monitor drivers' hours-of-service compliance," Graves said in an announcement issued on Wednesday. "Clearly, these devices lead to greater compliance with maximum driving limits - which is very good for the trucking industry as a whole and highway safety."
Noting that an EOBR mandate has been previously struck down by a federal court, OOIDA Executive Vice-President, Todd Spencer wants the costly and unnecessary mandate removed from the U.S. Senate's highway surface transportation funding legislation.
"It's exorbitantly expensive while providing no safety benefit whatsoever," says Spencer. "This is being done under the guise of compliance with federal hours-of-service regulations, but it is actually a way for large motor carrier companies to squeeze more 'productivity' out of drivers and increase costs for the small trucking companies they compete with."
A provision in S.1813 would require all long-haul trucks to be outfitted with electronic on-board recorders capable of real-time tracking for monitoring of trucks and drivers.
OOIDA contends EOBRs are an unproven technology, providing no cost benefit or highway safety improvement, while ATA maintains EOBRs are already widely used and accepted by it member companies who find the technology improves compliance, safety and operating efficiency.
"Many logging devices, or electronic onboard recorders, have additional functions that aid in managing fuel use, routes and other aspects of fleet operations - reducing fuel consumption and making carriers more efficient and environmentally responsible," notes Graves. "In addition, research shows that drivers at fleets using electronic logging devices report improved morale."
In a statement issued on Wednesday, OOIDA notes that a regulatory version of an EOBR mandate was struck down by a federal Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit because the FMCSA failed to deal with the harassment of drivers. Noted in that ruling was the fact that no research has shown how such a mandate would do anything to improve highway safety.
"EOBRs are no more reliable than paper log books for tracking hours of service," said Spencer. "Plus, we hear every day from truckers whose companies use the devices to harass truckers into driving more hours."
In its statement, OOIDA notes that estimates from the Obama administration itself peg the cost to industry of the EOBR rulemaking to be $2 billion, making it one of the seven most expensive regulations pursued by the Administration.