Our Two Cents

SPECIAL REPORT: Canadian owner-op group weighs in on EOBRs

Paper logbooks are a joke, according to new Canadian Trucking Alliance Chair Claude Robert, and some Canadian owner-operators seem to be in agreement.

Executive Director Joanne Ritchie of the Owner-Operator's Business Association of Canada told Land Line Magazine this week that she agrees with Robert's assessment of logbooks.

“The fact that drivers are able – sometimes encouraged – to hide a great deal of their wasted time on the top line of the log has cost drivers and owner-operators billions of dollars over the years,” Ritchie said. “If carriers were required to compensate drivers for all time spent on-duty doing something other than driving, my guess is we wouldn't see falsification to the extent we do.”

Robert's earlier press release, his first as CTA board chair after replacing the late John Cyopeck, was geared toward regulatory support for industry compliance with hours of service, mandatory speed limiters for all heavy trucks, and mandatory electronic on-board recorders, known as EOBRs.

However, Ritchie said if Canada is headed toward mandatory EOBRs expecting to get an accurate record of HOS compliance, the expectation is flawed.

“EOBRs do nothing to address the on-duty, not-driving demands of carriers and shippers,” she said. “Black boxes still rely on driver input, and as long as they feel pressured to accommodate unreasonable delivery schedules, or struggle to make sure there are enough hours left in the week to make some money, that input will be no more accurate than it is in a paper log.”

Ritchie agrees with an earlier statement by Robert that once all the illegal operators are flushed out of the system – or exposed by stricter monitoring – the rest of the industry will be better positioned to charge an appropriate rate.

“I'm all for that, but at the end of the day, tighter monitoring of a 'broken' system by any means – whether paper or electronic – is ludicrous,” Ritchie said, “so why not work harder to fix the system?”

The industry needs to take responsibility and clean up its own act, Ritchie said.

“Perhaps we'd see illegal operators 'flushed out the system' faster if carriers supported initiatives like OOIDA's Run Compliant campaign,” she said. “That's what we're urging every driver to do right now: no costly technology, no privacy issues, no new regulation, and no more free off-duty, not-driving time.”

This article first appeared May 8, 2006 in Today's Trucking News on the website of Land Line Magazine.