Safety in the trucking industry is of the utmost importance. In order to promote safety amongst truck drivers, the industry currently only allows drivers to spend 11 hours of a 14-hour shift on the road. To better monitor such restrictions, some companies have started to utilize electronic onboard recorders. These recorders are installed in the truck, automatically logging the number of hours the truck is moving on the road. This type of tracking is being touted as an upgrade of standard paper and pencil record keeping. However, not everyone is convinced.
Detractors point out that these devices provide a limited picture of the amount of time a truck driver spends on duty. Any hours spent loading or unloading are not tallied by such devices since such tasks are completed when the truck is parked. Therefore, such devices do not create an accurate picture of a trucker’s workload, sometimes creating an illusion of compliance that could lead to a false sense security. This could, in turn, lead to more reckless driving.
Moreover, critics contend that the cost of using such devices is not justified. The price of installing these devices is significant, which could seriously impede a trucking company’s ability to function. In addition to this, most trucking companies are not fully equipped to monitor such devices or to use the information gleaned from the devices in a meaningful way. This could further reduce actual compliance.
However, proponents point out that these devices have real value in the trucking industry. The current paper and pencil method is impossible to verify, trusting drivers to be honest and accurate. An electronic device, on the other hand, has no such fallibility, giving companies an exact documentation of the time the driver spent on the road during any given shift. This can only increase accountability and therefore promote compliance.
While it is true that these devices do not take into consideration the other varied tasks that make up a truck driver’s on duty time, their ability to accurately capture time on the road is a critical step to ensuring compliance and promoting overall safety both for truckers and other motorists on the road. Current systems offer no similar guarantees, which makes the upgrade worth the investment.
Therefore, electric onboard recorders may not be a universal fix for all safety issues in the trucking industry, but such devices are decidedly a step in the right direction.