The American Transportation Research Institute, the research arm of the American Trucking Assns., has reported strong indications that electronic onboard recorders (EOBRs) actually improve driver morale and retention. According to ATRI, its report precedes FMCSA’s rulemaking on EOBRs due this fall.
Many fleet owners believe EOBRs would have a negative impact on driver retention because of privacy concerns. But ATRI said 76% of EOBR users said it increased driver morale, 19% said it improved driver retention, and no respondent reported a negative impact on retention.
“We know there are long-standing perceptions associated with EOBRs but this research gives us insight to the statistical realities that can only be provided by EOBR users,” said Doug Duncan, ATRI chairman and president of FedEx Freight. “Clearly there are still issues that must be resolved prior to any mandate but we now have a blueprint for resolving those issues.”
Those issues include the fact that EOBR usage today is low because of overall system costs and lack of return on investment for factors such as safety and productivity. Also it appears that fleet owners are hedging until the standards and functionality that will be required in the expected EOBR rulemaking is finalized, ATRI said.
The enforcement community expressed concern about data privacy and access issues.
Should EOBR usage be mandated across the trucking industry, ATRI has determined that owner-operators and small fleets will be most negatively impacted on the bottom line, given the initial costs and unknown ROI. ATRI recommends investment tax credits and bulk-purchase pricing options.
ATRI said that there was a general consensus that industry segments such as P&D may not be appropriate targets for an EOBR mandate. However, respondents said that a broad mandate would create “a level playing field” for HOS compliance.
To comment on this article, write to Terrence Nguyen at [email protected]