Though proposed federal regulations mandating the use of electronic onboard recorders (EOBRs) most likely won’t see the light of day until March– with implementation of any final rule regarding such devices not occurring until 2015 at the earliest – one supplier of such technology believes trucking companies should start adopting EOBRs now as they can offer significant cost savings.

“For starters, the new hours of service (HOS) rules that are going into effect will be difficult to comply with manually, using paper logbooks,” explained John Gaither, senior sales executive and engineer for technology provider GPS Insight, during a webinar this week.

“Use of EOBRs will not only reduce the amount of time required to keep logbooks in compliance, they can also help fleets improve their CSA scores as well,” he said.

Gaither said eight types of HOS violations under CSA – the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA’s) Compliance Safety and Accountability program activated last year – can be virtually eliminated by using EOBRs, especially in terms of providing roadside inspectors with a simple way to check logbook data.

“But remember that old saying, ‘Show me the money’? EOBRs not only reduce the time drivers spend updating their logbooks – some 15 to 30 minutes per day – they eliminate the cost of paper forms and the clerical work required to file paper logbooks for six months, as well as the clerical work required to meet a DOT audit of logbook records,” he explained.

For example, Gaither pointed to GPS’s new EOBR-1000 device, which combines GPS tracking with an EOBR that combines an Electronic Driver Log (EDL) with electronic Driver Vehicle Inspection Reports (DVIRs) to ensure compliance with HOS rules as well as vehicle maintenance upkeep required under CSA – adding that one of GPS’ clients is saving $9 million annually just with the DVIR function alone.

For those reasons, Gaither stressed that by adopting EOBRs early fleets not only can accumulate savings but get ahead of the technological curve before federal mandates impose such devices on the industry.

“It’s not a question of ‘if’ where EOBRs are concerned; it’s a question of ‘when,’” he pointed out. “EOBRs will happen; they’ve been mandated by Congress. I would expect FMCSA to publish a proposed final rule on the technology sometime in March, followed by a six month comment period. At the earliest, a final rule would be issued by October, with implementation in 2015 to allow time for the adoption of the technology.”