Fleets support use of EOBRs

Fleets support use of EOBRs

While the use of electric on-board computers (EOBRs) have yet to be mandated by the Dept. of Transportation, fleets that have adopted them have seen benefits in safety and fuel economy, trucking industry analysts said during a Truckload Carriers Assn. and FleetOwner webinar held yesterday

While the use of electric on-board computers (EOBRs) have yet to be mandated by the Dept. of Transportation, fleets that have adopted them have seen benefits in safety and fuel economy, trucking industry analysts said during a Truckload Carriers Assn. and FleetOwner webinar held yesterday.

Timothy Wiseman, an attorney with the firm of Scopelitis, Garvin, Light, Hanson, & Feary, said that the DOT prefers that all carriers use EOBRs as an alternative to paper logs. However, there is currently no mandate for their use, as a final rule sent in December 2008 was not signed into law before the Obama administration took office and put a freeze on all pending legislation.

Wiseman said nobody really knows whether the new DOT will implement the rule as-is or implement its own regulations for on-board computers. At a minimum, EOBRs must record engine use, road speed, miles driven, date and time of day.

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While the use of electric on-board computers (EOBRs) have yet to be mandated by the Dept. of Transportation, fleets that have adopted them have seen benefits in safety and fuel economy, trucking industry analysts said during a Truckload Carriers Assn. and FleetOwner webinar held yesterday.

Timothy Wiseman, an attorney with the firm of Scopelitis, Garvin, Light, Hanson, & Feary, said that the DOT prefers that all carriers use EOBRs as an alternative to paper logs. However, there is currently no mandate for their use, as a final rule sent in December 2008 was not signed into law before the Obama administration took office and put a freeze on all pending legislation.

Wiseman said nobody really knows whether the new DOT will implement the rule as-is or implement its own regulations for on-board computers. At a minimum, EOBRs must record engine use, road speed, miles driven, date and time of day.

According to Mark Messier, national logistics & compliance manager for Panera Bread Co., EOBRs reduce errors because they keep driver logs automatically, require no paper, and can print a variety of reports to make audits easier. In addition, Panera can follow driver behavior, including rapid acceleration or deceleration, possible indicators that drivers are following too close or going too fast for conditions.

“On-board computers give managers the opportunity to review driver performance, instead of using more subjective methods to get data,” Messier said. “We want to make sure we’re being as safe as possible, and this system allows us to do that. It puts you in an increased safety hazard mode.”

Since installing EOBRs, Panera has reduced idling time from 50% to 3%, cut its fleet-wide speeding rate to below 1%, and reduced average route times by 10 to 12% against established route standards, Messier said. In total, the fleet reduced costs by 5.5% through a reduction in fuel consumption, idle time and out-of-route miles, he noted.

However, many fleets are worried about how to convince their drivers of the technology’s benefits. Ryan Cunnius, IT manager for Western Transportation/Sandford Oil, said that it only took about 30 minutes per driver to teach EOBR usage, and that the asset tracking benefits for both driver and manager made it worthwhile.

“We made sure that we communicated to our drivers to ensure that we weren’t doing this as a ‘Big Brother’ tactic, but to streamline our operations and for them to always know where they are,” Cunnius said. “It wasn’t very long before we had drivers that were used to it and they thought it was great.”

Wiseman also spoke on new legislation passed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration that will allow the agency to audit GPS data. He noted that the FMCSA concluded on Dec. 19th that GPS data is now permissible for audit in all cases, forcing carriers to hold onto automated data for six months.

“All advanced technology, including GPS, can be requested during a compliance review and used by the FMCSA to verify a motor carrier’s compliance with the hours of service regulations,” Wiseman said. “In fact, on Dec. 24, 2008, the FMCSA sent notice to all enforcement personnel that they should begin requesting GPS and other electronic records as supporting documents during any compliance review.”

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