It's time to admit we no longer have control of how our job is done. Ask any Human Resources manager and he will tell you that the Insurance Company has the final say when it comes to who and how their trucks will be run. I drove a Ryder Lease truck for a few years and they were known to tell the Company to get rid of a driver. Screw up too many times and Ryder whould refuse to let you operate their equiptment. We turned our trucks up to 70, Ryder turned them back to 67. I loved the fact that ryder always had me repaired and back on the road in no time but, they also had the final say on any vehicle operations. Who knows, the black box may be your best friend when its someone else's word against yours in court.
Black Box Blues
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As it stands now, and as I understand it, the proposal for EOBR's consists of mandating them for carriers that are found to be in trouble, as in suffering adverse safety related findings in audits. For all others, they are going to be encouraged by the FMCSA and will be on a voluntary basis.
I work for a carrier that is currently converting the entire fleet to EOBR's combined with paperless logging. I have been 100% paperless and "black boxed" since November the first, and I absolutely love it. Prior to that date, we were not allowed to fudge on logs as it was, so the only change now is that I cannot go into violation for so much as one minute, versus the update sent to the company every fifteen minutes, the standard that we were held to previously.
The reason I love the system we have, is due to the fact that at any given moment, I know how much time I have left to drive, how much time I have accrued towards my 14 hours, and a minute by minute update of my 70 hours.
Having been working under this system for almost three months now, I can honestly report that I have never went into violation once. It has not been without it's close calls from time to time, but I always found a way to keep myself legal. This has been the case with delays at docks, delays due to traffic accidents, and deliveries that were scheduled that presented difficulties in meeting within the 14 hour rule. At times I had to plan myself to the minute and cross my fingers, and at other times I had to re-schedule some things.
My average day has consisted of around 600 miles, with my highest mileage in one day reaching 792 miles driven in a 24 hour period.
The system we use is provided by PeopleNet, and it records to the nearest minute, each of our duty entries, so time is saved for driving, because I am not held to keeping things to the nearest quarter of an hour. I am only required to log a pre-trip once a day, and there is no actual time specified for this function. My average for this entry is seven minutes.
I take advantage of logging off-duty for meal breaks, time spent at docks where I am not on the dock also as off-duty time, unless I know it will stretch past the two hour mark, as is the case anytime I will hit a Wal-Mart grocery receiving location (ugh!), where I will then go into the sleeper to take advantage of the limited split-sleeper exemption, furthering my production capabilities.
I also am not required to make manual changes, when toggling between line 3 and 4, if I do not desire to. Half of my week is spent either bumping docks with deliveries or pick-ups, and the system tracks the time that the truck is moving or when stopped, and will record to the minute, those times, and will make those entries for me automatically, saving me immense time not having to make those entries, because most of the time I am at a customer for only a few minutes at a time.
When I change trailers or am operating under a new trip number, I make manual entries reflecting those changes, and they take a few keyboard stroke to do it. In short, not having to fill out a paper log, and to track times spent here and there, is a thing of the past, and I don't miss it for one second.
Operating under this system requires planning, and you sometimes have to cut your day short because you may well know that parking an hour before you HAVE to shut down is the better choice, because I don't want to risk the problem of running out of hours and not being able to find parking.
Now, my experience has been better than what many others will have, and that is for one good reason. I work for a company that does not push it's drivers. All deliveries that are scheduled will be made within the hours a driver has to make them, and they do not ever push drivers at any time. We more often than not, assist in the scheduling process, and there is never any argument if things do not work out as planned. We set ETA's at our leisure for those loads that are not required to be scheduled to a specific time. This was the case before the EOBR came into the picture.
I like my EOBR, and I love the paperless logging. At the same time, I can certainly understand why there are those that will not care for them, or fear them for one reason or another. But the one thing I have seen over and over, is that those that did not want them, adapt to them in time, and come to appreciate them.
Habits are hard to change, and over the past year I have had to change a bunch of them. The new rules present all kinds of difficulties. I hated the die-hard 14 hour rule when it came down. I still do, but I comply with it.
One more thought, and I'll shut-up;
One of the most comforting aspects of having the EOBR is the fact that there is no question at any given time, where I have been...ever.
I can access printable records online in a second, for the previous SIX MONTHS, that will prove where I was, the fact that I was driving the truck, and whether or not I ever went into violation at any time in those six months. Trip numbers, trailers that I have pulled, and more is there for perusal. I can print any log at any time.
Think about it. If I keep my flawless record as it is today, and if the worst should happen, and a drunk or reckless driver runs a stop sign and plows into me, and is injured or succumbs to having to take the eternal celestial dirt nap, there is no fodder for a crafty Attorney to explore to take a stance against me. The legality of my situation will never be in question, as to whether I should have been at that given spot, at that given time.
What if I am suspected of a crime? My whereabouts are irrefutably documented. I am logged into a computer that proves where I am while I am out there on the road, or when I am home, as the case may be.
A paper log is a legal document, but as we all know, it can and has been proven to be falsified, and is only as accurate as the person who writes it. Lawyers and the Feds will dig through paper trails to discover such falsification.
This system proves to each and every minute where I am, and I cannot falsify my location....ever. If and when my whereabouts for any given time is in question, those records kept by the EOBR will give them immediate information, and that's as far as it need go. It's absolutely more legal than the word itself.
Ok, I lied. One more tidbit;
I was recently pulled around back of an Arkansas scale randomly, along with five other trucks for a quick logbook check. When I informed the officer that I had an EOBR with an on-dash read-out, his response?
"Get outta here"....
I smile every time I get in my truck these days...and the EOBR is one of those reasons for that smile.
black box sucks. Invasion of privacy, IMO. However I think qualcomm is trucker's best friend. if dispatchers force u to drive illegal when u r passed 11 hour mark. Have them send to qualcomm, dispatchers changed tunes (msg can be stored up to 6months)
Hey Turbo i got a Question about that EOBR, we are going that way as well i see it in the near fueature we are using the DRIVER TECH system not too bad i enjoy it.... any way to the point, How does Paperless Logs Jive with the IRS in the Case of Per Diem, and if you were to ever get audited how do you prove your home-time days and work days...
IMO its just not going to fly,for 1 it will put DOT out of business.that's not going to hapen.and 2 there are too many states that make a living out of fines for log book violations.Whats next onboard camara's so they can watch and make sure you are sleeping when your supose too
I think it will happen. There are still too many drivers out there who think that they are Superman , working 32 hours straight running over car loads of kids etc.
As long as there are drivers who are not mature enough to KNOW their limits and ;not man or woman enough to tell that dispatcher what to do with his load of HOT freight. There is no substitute for safety and it STARTS WITH THE DRIVER.
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