It may be back to “go” for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the Hours of Service (HOS) rules that would have required the use of electronic logs for some carriers,. But many fleets have been moving ahead to take full advantage of the benefits EOBRs (electronic onboard recorders) can deliver anyway—whether a regulation will mandate the use of EOBRs with electronic logging capability or not.

Private fleets have been the real early adopters of EOBR technology, according to the National Private Truck Council (NPTC) and many industry suppliers. “About three-quarters of our members already have EOBRs, based upon our most-recent benchmarking survey,” noted an NPTC spokesperson.

“Many of today's largest private truck fleets have already adopted EOBR technology to help manage their operations,” saids Tom Flies, senior vp-product management for Xata. “In fact, many of them are on their second or third generation of technology. As technology becomes more accessible to smaller fleets, we expect to see even further interest in EOBR technology from these fleets.

“In the truckload sector, however, there has been a reluctance to use EOBRs, though that has changed over the past two years,” Flies added. “There are many fleets starting to adopt or pilot EOBRs. The benefits for truckload come from the integration of EOBR information, which can lead to significant cost savings, increases in safety compliance and more effective operations.”

Besides the ability to automate driver logs, some other functions attracting fleets to EOBRs include:

  • Reducing fuel costs through reducing idling, managing vehicle speed and improving driving performance
  • Reducing maintenance costs with better, real-time diagnostic data
  • Improving resource utilization
  • Eliminating most DOT log errors/violations
  • Identifying driver performance problems early
  • Identifying the best drivers for rewards/recognition
  • Developing performance standards and managing to those standards
  • Improving safety ratings
  • Meeting customer requirements/improving customer service
  • Documenting detention in order to charge shippers
  • Gathering predictive information, such as failure or wear rates to help inform future equipment specing, purchasing decisions
  • Documenting performance/reducing risk

The growing use of electronic logs and other EOBR functions is part and parcel of the larger deployment of information and communication technologies throughout the trucking industry. The market for GPS-based mobile resource management systems has grown to 3.6 million units, according to the comprehensive 2009 Mobile Resource Management Systems Market Study released by C.J. Driscoll & Associates. By 2012, this market is expected to expand to over 6.5 million units.