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EOBR FAQ’s published by FMCSA – smartphones much better option








It’s no surpirse that the FMCSA is pushing an expensive ‘heavy hardware’ EOBR mandate that is simply not realistic for small carriers (the majority of the industry – by far) to adopt.  Smart phone based e-Log solutions that meet the electronic logging requirements are from compaines such as BigRoad.  BigRoad is not spending huge sums on lobbying Washington, but we are getting the support of the driver’s on the road for a reasonable electronic daily driver log solution that is easy to use and simple to acquire – FREE .

What is the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) reaction to claims regarding the use of electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) and their potential safety benefits?


FMCSA is considering a proposed rulemaking to mandate the use of EOBRs for carriers currently using handwritten records of duty status (RODS), or logbooks. The rulemaking would advance safety by requiring the use of a proven technology for accurately capturing driving time and increasing the level of compliance with the hours of service (HOS) rules. EOBRs would enable roadside inspectors to quickly identify drivers exceeding driving time limitations and to take action to prevent them from continuing to exceed HOS limits. This would decrease the risk of fatigue-related crashes, thereby improving safety.



How often are HOS violations discovered during roadside inspections?


In 2011, Federal and State inspectors conducted 3.5 million driver inspections at the roadside, resulting in 1.2 million citations for driver violations of motor carrier safety regulations. Of these violations, 48 percent, or 576,000, were related to compliance with HOS or maintenance of logbooks, including exceeding daily and weekly driving time limits, false logs, “no log” violations, form and manner violations, and non-current logs.



Certain parties have claimed that an EOBR mandate would impose a $2 billion cost on the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) industry. This claim is based on the Agency’s Regulatory Impact Analysis (RIA) for the 2011 notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that estimated total costs of $2.377 billion per year. Would the EOBR rulemaking be considered cost-beneficial with such significant expenses for the transportation industry?


Yes. FMCSA’s RIA for the 2011 NPRM reported total benefits of $2.711 billion, resulting in an annual net benefit of $344 million. A significant portion of these benefits would come from $1.965 billion in annual paperwork reduction – a savings of $688 per driver each year – due to drivers no longer completing and submitting logbooks. The paperwork burden associated with RODS is one of the Federal government’s largest, in fact second only to the burden of filing Federal taxes each year. The Agency is currently preparing a supplemental NPRM that will re-examine the estimated costs and benefits (both paperwork savings and safety) associated with an EOBR mandate for carriers using handwritten RODS.



What is FMCSA’s estimate for the costs of an average EOBR device?


The FMCSA estimated in its 2011 EOBR proposed rulemaking that the typical carrier would likely be required to spend $1,500 to $2,000 per CMV to purchase and install EOBRs, and several hundred dollars per year for service fees. The 2011 estimate was higher than the regulatory evaluation issued with the 2010 final rule, subsequently vacated by a Federal court, because the previous rule focused on the least expensive device determined to be compliant with the rule. The Agency chose to base its calculations on the higher cost device in the 2011 NPRM because it did not believe that a sufficient number of the cheapest units would be available for a broad industry mandate, which would cover approximately 2 million units.



Which EOBR device did FMCSA use as the basis for its estimated costs in the 2011 rulemaking proposal?


FMCSA used Qualcomm’s Mobile Computing Platform (MCP) 150, which retails for approximately $1,775, including $100 for installation. The Agency based its estimate on this device because we did not find evidence indicating that a sufficient number of the lowest-cost units estimated under the 2010 final rule would be available for a broad industry mandate (the Agency estimates that approximately 2 million devices would be needed). The higher cost also reflects the assumption that carriers would install EOBRs with functions and features unrelated to the HOS-monitoring feature.



In the year since FMCSA published its proposal for a broad industry mandate for EOBRs, has the Agency observed any changes in the marketplace for these devices to influence the costs?


Yes. The Agency believes the market has changed since 2011, with new vendors entering the market responding to the demand for electronic logging devices with fewer fleet management features. While FMCSA is still assessing cost data and projections, the availability of these cheaper devices should significantly decrease the estimated cost of the rule compared to that of the 2011 RIA. For example, Qualcomm has introduced an updated version of the MCP 150 called the MCP 50. This device retails for approximately $899, including installation, for a savings of almost $900 over the MCP 150, the device used as a basis for the cost estimates in our 2011 proposed rule. Other vendors are advertising EOBRs at even lower prices, although not yet in sufficient numbers to meet a broad industry mandate. Continental’s VDO Roadlog retails for about $500, including installation. Other smaller vendors offer EOBR devices that can run as an application on a smartphone. J.J. Keller leases devices for a monthly fee plus a $199 initial fee. Generally, these new devices would probably have satisfied the technical specifications included in the 2010 final rule.



With regard to the performance criteria or technical specifications for EOBRs, how would FMCSA ensure the devices purchased by fleets meet the requirements?


The technical specifications FMCSA is considering for its EOBR rulemaking would reduce opportunities for tampering with the devices because the rule would make EOBR manufacturers – which have the most knowledge about their hardware and software designs – responsible for compliance with the Agency’s performance criteria. This approach would allow FMCSA to direct its enforcement resources toward those situations in which motor carriers or drivers misuse EOBRs or the records they generate. A previous Department of Transportation study entitled “Recommendations Regarding the Use of Electronic On-Board Recorders (EOBRs) for Reporting Hours of Service” addresses a range of methods to prevent tampering with the physical EOBR device, to the greatest extent practicable, as well as the electronic records it holds.