OOIDA president refutes claims made in pro-EOBR video
OOIDA President Jim Johnston says the video on EOBRs fails to make the case that in order to improve compliance or address fatigue the government must implement a $2 billion mandate, especially one that creates a dangerous illusion that EOBRs mean the driver is complying with HOS regulations. (Courtesy: OOIDA)
The Trucker Staff
GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — Despite what proponents of a Congressional mandate requiring electronic on-board recorders claim in a recently-produced video aimed at lawmakers, no proof exists that EOBRs will improve compliance with Hours of Service regulations nor does proof exist that EOBRs will reduce fatigue and improve highway safety, says the president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
In a June 18 letter to Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chairman of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, and Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., chairman of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, OOIDA President Jim Johnston said proponents of EOBRs also fail to make the connection between mandating EOBRs and truly improving highway safety.
The video, produced by the American Trucking Associations, the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance and the American Automobile Association, implores Congress to force the entire trucking industry to purchase and employ EOBRs on commercial motor vehicles, Johnston noted in his letter.
OOIDA has long been an opponent of such a mandate, which is a part of the surface transportation bill now being debated by Congress. Most in the commercial vehicle industry believe that it is unlikely Congress will be able to pass the bill anytime soon.
“In the video you hear arguments such as there is a link between compliance and safety as well as that fatigue can be a factor in accidents,” Johnston wrote the lawmakers. “OOIDA members generally agree, which is why thousands of OOIDA members have safe driving records covering hundreds of millions of miles. Small business truckers, especially those who own their own trucks, have a clear economic incentive to drive safely. Not only does the video fail to recognize that fact, it also fails to make the case that in order to improve compliance or address fatigue the government must implement a $2 billion mandate, especially one that creates a dangerous illusion that EOBRs mean the driver is complying with HOS regulations.”
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It is a fact that EOBRs as described in the mandate will capture only HOS violations that involve driving over 11 hours a day, which, according to the Department of Transportation make up less than 1 percent of all HOS violations that occur, Johnston said, reminding Boxer and Mica that EOBRs only record duty status when the truck’s wheels are moving and HOS regulations limit a driver to a maximum of 11 hours of driving a day.
“There are still 13 hours during the day where an EOBR is no more effective at ensuring HOS compliance than paper logs,” Johnston said. “This unrecorded time is where nearly everyone agrees that non-compliance primarily occurs and where motor carriers — including some of the nation’s largest — are given the ability to push their drivers to violate HOS rules under the cover of an EOBR. A motor carrier’s focus on maximizing on-duty and driving time can lead to a trucker recording time waiting at the dock as off-duty even though under the law that time should be recorded as on-duty/not driving because the driver is still working.”
Johnston told lawmakers that many EOBRs were designed to default to off-duty whenever the truck is stopped for more than a few minutes.
“The use of an EOBR will do nothing to prevent incorrect recording of duty status, and because it can hide this designation it may lead to expansion of this practice, which only leads to more fatigued drivers,” he said.
Johnston urged lawmakers “to avoid the illusion that EOBRs will improve highway safety and join with OOIDA members and thousands of other small business professionals and focus on ways to truly improve HOS compliance and highway safety.”
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