Competing Campaigns Seek to Influence Canada EOBR Law
As the Canadian government considers legislation that would mandate EOBRs in all trucks, competing write-in campaigns are underway to influence the government's decision. Pro-EOBR organization Canadian Trucking Alliance began their campaign first, but the North American Truckers Guild is working hard to catch up.
The CTA supports the mandatory use of EOBRs because they believe the devices are more effective in assuring compliance with hours of service rules. They point out that paper logs are outdated technology. CTA also believes the electronic logs reduce driver stress and increase driver productivity.
The NATG believes that both paper and electronic logs can be manipulated by unscrupulous drivers, so there is no need for a mandated change. Both methods require the driver to manually log their driver in-service status.
Although EOBR supporters point to a decline in violations and accidents by those already voluntarily using EOBRs, NATG maintain that the success of the devices is overstated. According to NATG, roadside checks of driver logs seldom include analysis of EOBRS because law enforcement officers have neither the training nor technology to check them. Without accurate data to compare, it is impossible to accurately assess the impact of EOBRs on highway safety.
The push to mandate EOBRs in Canada is partly in response to recent legislation in the United States. The highway bill passed in early July requires all trucks to be equipped with electronic monitoring devices. However, a separate bill currently under consideration strips all funding for implementation from the Department of Transportation budget. Without funding, DOT would be hard-pressed to enforce the EOBR requirement.
Drivers who oppose the required use of EOBRs cite harassment by motor carriers to continue driving a full eight-hour shift even when the driver is fatigued. It's possible that the stringent new hours of service rules may actually cause more tired drivers on the highways, since there is little flexibility written into the new standards. The rules seek to standardize subjective categories of fatigue and alertness without taking into consideration that drivers may know best when they are too tired to drive.
The rules may also leave drivers stranded between rest areas equipped with restrooms or other facilities. If the legally-allowed driving period will expire while the driver is in an unpopulated area, the driver must either end a shift early at the nearest truck stop or violate the law and continue to the next appropriate resting place. This problem is not addressed by either paper or electronic log books.
Drivers and carriers also cite the expense of adding EOBRs to their trucking fleets in their opposition. Until there is hard data to confirm that the EOBRs actually improve safety, opponents believe it is foolhardy to require their installation.