The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) says a potential law requiring all longhaul trucks to be equipped with electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) will cost the industry US$2 billion.
The provision within the Senate highway bill, known as S.1813 or MAP-21, will require all longhaul trucks to be equipped with EOBRs capable of real-time tracking for the monitoring of drivers’ compliance with hours-of-service rules.
OOIDA says the technology is unproven and will provide no cost benefit or highway safety improvement.
“It’s exorbitantly expensive while providing no safety benefit whatsoever,” says Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice-president. “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.”
Spencer said electronic logs are no more reliable than paper versions.
“The device only tracks when the wheels are moving, not taking into consideration the colossal waiting times spent by truck drivers at shipping docks,” Spencer noted. “Plus, we hear every day from truckers whose companies use the devices to harass truckers into driving more hours.”
Previously, the federal Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit agreed with OOIDA’s assertion that e-logs could be used to harass drivers, requiring the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to return to the drawing board to alleviate this concern.
OOIDA says the Obama administration itself has acknowledged the mandate would cost $2 billion to implement, making it one of the more expensive regulations pursued by the administration.
“It is more than twice the cost of hours-of-service regulations, which by the way are still in flux and not truly finalized. Yet the FMCSA presses on, seeking additional authority from Congress for yet another mandate,” Spencer blasted.
OOIDA made its point to key Senators in a letter today.
“Currently, truckers utilize paper logbooks that are available at truck stops or from carriers for little or no charge. The on-board recorders as mandated under the Senate bill are estimated to cost between $1,000 and $1,500 to purchase,” OOIDA wrote in the letter to Senators Barbara Boxer and James Inhofe.
The organization also said monthly service charges will total about $50 per month for each device, meaning owner/operators will have to shell out US$7,500 over a 10-year period.
“In addition, such tracking devices raise serious concerns about privacy and invoke ‘big brother’ imagery for drivers as OOIDA has long held that EOBRs are widely used in the industry to simply harass drivers and attempt to stimulate ‘productivity’ regardless of the ramifications to a driver’s ability to obtain meaningful rest and otherwise be in compliance with the law,” OOIDA added.