Last June, Congress adopted a bill that mandates the use of Electronic On-Board Recorders (EOBRs) in all fleet vehicles. Though the time required to publish and ultimately enforce this bill means that business owners have at least two years to get on board, it would benefit all fleet managers to consider the implications of this new law now. By thinking ahead, owners can be better prepared for the changes and spread out the purchase of EOBR devices over time.

Adopt early to cut costs and ease the transition

Many companies already use EOBRs for the convenience, reliable record keeping and accountability. In addition to simplifying the logging process and avoid the potential for driver error or fraud, some EOBR models have the capability to track speed and determine the most eco-efficient routes. The savings in fuel add up quickly and the environmental impact compounds with each driver. The systems are designed to be intuitive; the interface generally resembles a smartphone or GPS system. However, by giving drivers extra time with the system, fleet managers can ensure that it is being used correctly before compliance becomes a legal issue. There may also be incentives available for early adoption of EOBRs with insurers.

Consider return on investment

One driver has already noted the potential effect the new EOBR regulations could have on driver pay. The elimination of paper logging will save a significant amount of time and ensure that drivers work no more than a 10 hour day, as per the new hours of service laws being push through concurrently. Though this increases efficiency and encourages safer driving practices, it is the fleet managers’ responsibility to ensure that drivers are paid fairly and that some of the savings in fuel and overhead costs be passed on to those keeping the fleet moving.

Use EOBR to comply with HOS regulations

HOS violations are not only illegal, they pose a danger to other drivers. Cutting driving time to a mandatory 10 hour day (70 hours a week) means that fleet drivers will be more alert and focused on the road. An EOBR can not only serve as a reminder to the drivers, it constitutes automated proof to inspectors and the home office that regulations are being followed. Since long haul drivers are most directly affected by hours of service cuts, they are an ideal choice to try out new EOBR devices before the rest of the fleet. The savings in maintenance and fuel may be able to compensate drivers paid by the mile for time lost under the new regulations.

Law enforcement may begin citing EOBR violations as early as 2015. The change, though a major overhaul in process, is a positive step toward efficiency and driver accountability and safety. Fleet managers should spend the time before the law goes into practice researching models from different companies to find the best combination of applications and price for their business. By understanding the legal requirements of the coming years, it is possible to use the new rules to benefit the entire fleet now.