Proposed Government Mandate Could Mean Big Changes for Truck Drivers

By: Bergen Baucom Email
By: Bergen Baucom Email

MARIANNA--Some members of the trucking community were upset to hear that a proposed federal transportation bill could cause undue hardship on the drivers, depending on who you ask.

The 2012 Surface Transportation Extension Act contains a proposal that would require all truck drivers to install an Electronic On Board Recorder, or EOBR.

"It's an automatic logging system. It would do away with paper logs and take away the driver's ability to cheat" explained Dan Smith, a truck driver for Hartland Express.

Smith has been driving big rigs for 15 years and has had an EORB for the past year. He said he doesn't mind it now, but has not always been so comfortable with it.

"I've gotten used to it and actually like it better now," Smith said. "Before, when I was using the paper I could fudge a little bit and run however I wanted to. With it now, I can't."

In addition to accountability, Smith said EORB's cut down on paper work and increase safety by reducing demands that he perform outside the law.

"If they want me to do something more than I have time to available, sorry, I can't do it. I don't have the time to do it. I can longer run illegal. We're a much safer industry than we ever have been."

But not everyone feels the way Smith does.

One driver recently wrote the Floridan newspaper to say the mandate would likely hold truck drivers responsible for buying the EORB, a cost he felt was unnecessary.

Smith said that many large trucking companies have already moved toward EORBs and away from paper logs.

The Senate and House have sent different versions of the bill to a conference committee for resolution. Congressman Steve Southerland serves on that committee.

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