OOIDA challenges large carriers on issue of EOBRs

| Friday, March 19, 2010

Electronic on-board recorders will not enhance safety, fix hours-of-service problems or respect driver privacy, contrary to what motor-carrier associations are saying, OOIDA leadership stated in official comments to a Canadian working group.

The working group appointed by the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators recently asked stakeholders for comments on EOBRs to incorporate into future recommendations to the Canadian Council of Deputy Ministers of Transportation.

Having made previous comments about EOBRs to the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the leadership of OOIDA was primed and ready to counter arguments made by large motor-carrier associations on issues of hours, safety and privacy.

“If EOBRs could prevent the manipulation of a drivers work schedule and respect drivers’ privacy rights, we would consider supporting their adoption,” OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston stated in comments filed March 11 to the CCMTA working group.

“Unfortunately, EOBRs are no more a reliable or accurate record of a driver’s compliance with the hours-of-service (‘HOS’) rules than paper logs.”

The Canadian Trucking Alliance, a national association consisting of provincial motor-carrier groups, has been pushing for an EOBR mandate north of the border.

One of the CTA’s arguments is that EOBRs would help level an uneven playing field and remedy potentially unsafe situations on Canadian highways. CTA also contends that driver privacy would be respected because EOBR data would not be shared.

Johnston insists that an EOBR mandate would put personal privacy at risk, and for good reason.

“The truck cab is the home away from home of most long-haul drivers. They sleep, eat, and conduct personal business in their truck while not driving,” Johnston stated. Because EOBRs track truck movement, the data could be used against drivers that use their trucks for personal conveyance, he added.

“Drivers have a legitimate expectation of privacy that should be afforded protection – especially when they are not legally obligated to account for time spent conducting ‘personal business’ such as driving their truck to restaurants, hotels, or any number of other locations,” Johnston stated.

Like with comments filed with U.S. regulators, OOIDA took the opportunity in comments to the CCMTA to advocate for drivers knowing that the large motor carriers would be making certain claims about hours, safety and privacy.

“OOIDA has consistently objected to EOBR measures as costly and personally intrusive devices that would do nothing to address the problem they promise to fix,” Johnston stated.

– By David Tanner, associate editor