The Debate Over EOBRs Continues
by Apex Capital | April 25, 2013
The debate over the use of electronic onboard recording devices (EOBRs) or electronic logging devices (ELDs) in commercial vehicles has continued without much progress for over two decades. The leading players in this debate are the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on one side and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) on the other. The FMCSA has been pushing Congress to enact legislation mandating electronic logging devices in commercial vehicles, but the OOIDA has been strongly resisting such regulations.
A Brief History of ELDs
The debate over the use of ELDs began in February 1990 when the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended that the technology be required in all heavy-duty trucks. This was followed in 2000 by a proposed reform to the hours-of-service regulation by the FMCSA that would include the use of EOBRs, but the reform was blocked by a court order in 2004.
In 2007, the FMCSA proposed a new rule that would require ELDs to be used by carriers with a history of violations, and the rule went into effect in 2010 with a clause for full compliance by 2012. The OOIDA issued a legal challenge to the rule only two months after it went into effect, but this did not stop the FMCSA from continuing to pursue a full mandate for all commercial drivers.
In response to the suit brought on by the OOIDA, the U.S. Court of Appeals forced the FMCSA to abandon the rule requiring ELDs, but in January 2012, the administration began new efforts to promote ELDs. The OOIDA then brought a cease-and-desist order before the court, but it was subsequently denied.
Recent News Concerning ELDs
Today, the issue of ELDs continues to be debated, but the focus of the debate has shifted to an analysis of the costs and benefits of ELD use. While many carriers argue that the implementation of these devices is cost prohibitive, other organizations say that their use will increase carrier profits over the long run. An analysis conducted by the FMCSA states that the net benefit to carriers could be as much as $747 million.
The average cost of implementing ELDs is estimated at $1,675 per vehicle, but this cost could be mitigated through the use of mobile technology. An ELD application designed for mobile phones by Xata Turnpike would only cost $35 per vehicle per month. The FMCSA has accepted that mobile applications could be used as ELDs, which would result in a quicker realization of benefits by carriers, but the OOIDA has yet to loosen its stance on the issue.