The Atlantic: Truckers, Companies Debate On-Board Recorders

The Atlantic this week takes a look at the debate over electronic on-board recorders, or EOBRs, which are soon to become required technology for American trucking firms.

The $2 billion project is rolling out the devices to three million U.S. truck drivers by January 2016, putting the trucking industry at the forefront of workplace surveillance:

In order to comply with the incoming federal mandate, however, they all have to track when a truck’s engine is running, record its duty status and ensure that drivers aren’t working for more than 14 consecutive hours, including a maximum of 11 actual driving hours within that window.

The idea is to make “Hours of Service” log-keeping, which drivers are already required to do manually, more accurate. It’s also an attempt to reduce crashes.

Arkansas Business wrote about EOBRs in JulyProponents see it as a way to make driving more efficient and point to it as the first real change to the act of logging hours of service since the 1930s. Opponents view the replacement for paper logs as an intrusive instrument that will make life more difficult for drivers than it already is.

The latter view is reflect in comments by one truck driver quoted by The Atlantic:

"They’re forcing me to put something in that’s not gonna help me any," he says. "And they keep saying, ‘Well, it saves you time…’ You know, I can do a lot. I can write up a log book in the same amount of time that it takes me to program what I’m doing into the EOBR."

Still, trucking companies support the devices, seeing them as a way to improve safety and to eliminate the underreporting of hours. The Arkansas Trucking Association also supports EOBRs.

You can read The Atlantic's full report here.