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ATRI releases report on EOBR systems

The American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) released results from its industry analysis of electronic on-board recording (EOBRs) devices for hours-of-service monitoring.

The research, which precedes the fall release of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's rulemaking on EOBRs, collected and analyzed data on numerous factors relating to EOBR usage, functionality, pricing, and potential impacts of an EOBR mandate. The research indicates that EOBR usage today is low, primarily due to: overall system costs; a lack of EOBR safety and productivity returns-on-investment; and concern over what functionalities and standards will be needed should a mandate be promulgated.

The enforcement community is also concerned about data privacy and data access issues since there are few policies and protocols available for utilizing EOBR data to monitor HOS compliance.

The research determined that small fleets and owner-operators will be hardest hit by a mandated investment in EOBRs. However, the research offered several strategies for minimizing cost impacts including investment tax credits and bulk-purchase pricing options. There was also general recognition that certain industry segments such as local pick-up and delivery services may not be appropriate targets for an EOBR mandate. However, carriers do believe that a broad mandate would create a "level playing field" for HOS compliance.

A surprising 76 percent of EOBR users responded that EOBR usage improved driver morale, and 19 percent said EOBRs improved driver retention. No EOBR user respondents stated that driver retention was harmed by EOBR usage. "We know there are long-standing perceptions associated with EOBRs, but this research gives us insight into the statistical realities that can only be provided by EOBR users," stated Doug Duncan, ATRI chairman and president of FedEx Freight. "Clearly there are still issues that must be resolved prior to any mandate, but we now have a blueprint for resolving those issues."

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