TAMPA, FL – In an effort riddled with interesting contradictions, the Technology & Maintenance Council (TMC) is going to put some serious brainpower to work carving out acceptable technological standards for a device the trucking industry remains diametrically opposed to.
The device is the electronic on board recorder (EOBR), which the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is studying for the purpose of electronically recording hours of service (HOS) data automatically.
Jim Tipka, vp-engineering for the American Trucking Assn. (ATA) – within which TMC functions – said TMC has agreed to take up the challenge of hammering out technological standards for the so-called “black box” through its S-12 and S-24 study groups.
Carl Kirk, TMC’s executive director, stressed that this effort is focused solely on hammering out standards for an HOS device and will not focus on event data recorders (EDRs) being developed for accident reconstruction purposes, as SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) is working to formulate standards for those devices. He also said this is an effort focused purely on establishing a set of engineering standards— not a debate on whether the industry should have this technology or not.
“There’s a lot of variability out there when it comes to EOBRs and the data they record. As an industry, we need to see uniformity,” he said. “We’re not looking to develop specifications here – we are focused on helping create performance-oriented standards for electronic logbooks.”
Kirk further noted that this effort is being undertaken with the understanding that it will not be used to mandate the technology – rather, it’s being used as a way to make sure if carriers decide to voluntarily adopt electronic logbooks, the technology they eventually select will first keep them compliant with FMCSA’s HOS provisions and second will not result in a stranded investment down the road.