Researchers at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institution (VTTI) are studying the impact electronic onboard recording (EOBR) devices have on ensuring commercial driver compliance with hours-of-service requirements. The study is being funded by FMCSA, which is still working on an EOBR regulation.

VTTI said it is studying safety records for drivers and fleets utilizing the technology.

New hours-of-service regulations are set to go into effect July 1, 2013. FMCSA is considering an EOBR regulation that will require the devices for HOS compliance.

“A requirement to use electronic onboard recorders was withdrawn because of potential misuse and questions about whether the devices actually increase compliance and safety,” said Jeff Hickman, occupational health and safety expert at Virginia Tech Transportation Institute.

Hickman is leading the VTTI effort to “evaluate the potential safety benefits of electronic onboard recorders.” His team will also look at whether such devices improve compliance with hours-of-service regulations, how many operators and fleets use them, how much they cost to install and operate, and whether there are other benefits of the devices.”

The project will also include department of transportation-recorded crash rates and hours-of-service violation rates for vehicles with and without electronic onboard recording devices.

Study results will be reported by late 2013.