Providers of electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) are expecting the trucking industry to accelerate its adoption of the technology, thanks to the proposed rulemaking announced by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) last month that mandates the devices for some and provides incentives for others to adopt them voluntarily. (See Lead News, page 8, this issue.)

The announcement of the proposed rule yesterday sparked a surge in trucking companies inquiring about EOBRs.

“[EOBR adoption] will dramatically increase before [the rule] goes in effect for people wanting to prepare for the rule,” Brian McLaughlin, vp of marketing for PeopleNet told Fleet Owner.

“Fleet owners in general know an EOBR is a good thing. The vast majority of the fleets are run by good people who obey the law and want to do what's right but have concerns of whether the data is going to be utilized in a bad way,” he continued.

“They had concerns about is it going to work when its supposed to…You'll see carriers that want to do right but have been holding out adopt EOBRs because [those concerns have been addressed],” McLaughlin added.

As a result, McLaughlin predicts there will be significant penetration of EOBR technology in the trucking industry.

“I don't expect any tremendous surge, but just the talk about [EOBRs] has led people to investigate these types of systems and the operational benefits they provide to a trucking organization,” John Lewis, president & CEO of GeoLogic told Fleet Owner. “That in itself would compel people to adopt it to improve their fleet performance. That will have far greater [effect on sales] than [carriers] that might be required to adopt these systems.”

On the technology front, the proposed rule does create the potential for motor carriers to comply with the rule using GPS-based technology as an alternative to more conventional solutions that pull distance information off an engine control module (ECM).

“From a providers' perspective that's a big change,” Lewis said. The rule allows motor carriers to comply using “a GPS-only system versus a system that is attached and synchronized with the truck.”

Weighing in on the issue, Norm Ellis, vp & gm of global transportation and logistics for Qualcomm Wireless Business Solutions, added: “We are encouraged to see that the proposed rule includes performance standards for EOBRs so a variety of technologies could be used to meet the requirements, as this gives carriers more flexibility in complying with the federal HOS regulations.”