The American Trucking Associations is urging Congress to require drivers to use electronic on-board recorders, while independent owner-operators argue the technology has no safety or cost benefits.
Proponents hope that the Senate language requiring the devices in the chamber’s two-year, $109 billion plan makes it through the conferencing of the final surface transportation bill. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association in August successfully challenged a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration final rule that would have required some carriers to install EOBRs to monitor drivers’ hours of service.
"Clearly, these devices lead to greater compliance with maximum driving limits, which is very good for the trucking industry as a whole and highway safety,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves.
He said the EOBRs could help drivers better manage fuel use, routes and other fleet operations. The OOIDA counters the requirement is a “big brother” mandate that would land another blow on ailing independent owner-operators.
“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,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer.
The Obama administration estimates the implementation of EOBRs would cost roughly $2 billion, according to OOIDA. The implementation of EOBRs would be one of the seven costliest regulations sought by 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 said.
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