My black box has a new name, and it’ not EOBR

By David Tanner,associate editor

Just when truckers were getting used to the term electronic on-board recorders, or EOBRs, Congress decided to change the name.

Policymakers are no longer using the term EOBRs in their proposals to describe the devices that capture a driver’s hours behind the wheel.

They are now electronic logging devices, or ELDs.

The change cannot possibly be a coincidence.

The term EOBR has been getting beaten up in recent years. The words “on-board” coupled with “recorders” have certainly had Big Brother implications for the driver community, and that put a dent in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s agenda to mandate the devices.

OOIDA’s court challenge against the FMCSA’s proposed mandate has delivered some serious body blows to the EOBR as well.

In that challenge, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit agreed with OOIDA that EOBRs could be used by motor carriers, brokers and dispatchers to harass drivers or make them drive when they are tired or in need of a break. The court forced the FMCSA to vacate a rule and head back to the drawing board to sort out the harassment issue.

So it’s no wonder Congress decided to change up its public relations and start calling the devices ELDs for the agency. The new name seems far less intrusive than an on-board recorder. But is it?

To us, it doesn’t matter whether they call it an EOBR, an ELD or a super fuzzy electric yo-yo. Any electronic device that records a driver’s hours is going to look like, sound like and feel like an attempt at heavy-handedness, and a premature one at that since the agency has not yet solved the issue of driver harassment.

No electronic logging mechanism is going to solve the issues related to hours of service, detention time, driver harassment or coercion to violate the regs.

And we haven’t even gotten to safety yet. There is still no proof that an EOBR, or an ELD, truly affects safety when it comes to hours of service, compliance or fatigued driving. LL