By Sandy Long
The mandatory placement of EOBRs amendment remained in the Highway Bill and was passed and signed into law. For those of you who do not understand what this means and why many of us are fighting it, here is why that is not such a good thing. It is the word MANDATORY. This will make every truck owner have EOBRs in their trucks or not do business…no choice. This mandate will put many single truck owner operators and small fleets out of business.
While the above statement has been spun to make people think that those single truck owners and small fleets do not want to install EOBRs because they want to run illegally, this is not the case at all. It is mainly the cost. EOBRs run roughly $2,000 a unit and then there is a monthly fee. For the company I drive for, this will mean that they will pay $56,000 for the initial installation, then roughly $1,400 a month in service costs along with costs for maintenance, replacements and training. This is for a company with good CSA numbers.
The other reason that people are against the mandatory EOBRs is that they are invasive and are an invasion of privacy being able to pinpoint where a drivers at any time. This is tantamount to putting a tracking bracelet on them like they are a common criminal on house arrest or putting a tracking device on them. Tracking devices cannot even be put on a criminal’s vehicle without a court order.
This was proven in Federal Court, from OOIDA: “A regulatory version of an EOBR mandate was struck down by a federal Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit because the FMCSA failed to deal with the harassment of drivers. Noted in that ruling was the fact that no research has shown how such a mandate would do anything to improve highway safety.”
That all being said, the fight is not over. The highway bill is only as good as the money set aside to make it work; this is done thru the appropriations bill. From TruckingInfo.com: “The amendment to the annual transportation funding appropriations bill is sponsored by U.S. Representatives Jeff Landry, R-LA and Nick Rahall, D-WV, and co-sponsored by Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-WA, Tom Graves, R-GA and Bill Huizenga, R-MI. It would strip funding from the electronic on-board recorder mandate included the conferenced highway bill negotiated last this week. The amendment would “prohibit the use of funds to be used to promulgate or implement any regulations that would mandate global positioning system (GPS) tracking, electronic on-board recording devices, or event data recorders in passenger or commercial motor vehicles.”
There is some rumor going around social media places that intimate that private concerns can fund the regulatory process of making EOBRs mandatory even with this Landry/Rahall amendment passing. I did some research on my own and could find nothing that would allow private funding definitively.
I called OOIDA headquarters and spoke to Rod Nofziger, Director of Government Affairs for OOIDA. Mr. Nofziger said that with the wording in the Landry/Rahall amendment that NO taxpayer money could be used to fund the making of the regulation for mandatory EOBRs, there was no way that anyone could fund the mandate. The very personnel needed are paid by taxpayer money, the studies needed would have to be funded thru the FMCSA/DOT and those entities are funded by taxpayer money, and finally, even publishing the rule in the public register would cost taxpayer money. Therefore, the Landry/Rahall amendment would effectively stop the mandatory EOBR regulation at least thru 2013. The rumor was false.
This means that we all need to contact our senators and demand that they vote yes on the Landry/Rahall amendment; the amendment has passed in the House of Representatives. We need to tell our senators that making mandatory the use of EOBRs will take away a company’s right to choose how to do business and even the FMCSA admits to no return on investment for small carriers and owner operators. This will not only put companies out of business, but people out of work.
You can find your senator here: http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm or call (202) 224-3121, give them your zip code and they can connect you to the proper representative.