The new CSA 2010 safety-scoring process and the pending EOBR (electronic onboard recorder) regulation will make paper drivers’ logbooks virtually obsolete, according to the speakers on an August 3 Webinar presented by FleetOwner and Truckload Carriers Assn. and sponsored by Xata. While EOBRs will still not be mandated for most carriers, their benefits make the case for them too compelling to ignore, the speakers agreed.

Larry Ahlers, vice president of transportation for Old Castle Architectural, Inc., an Oldcastle, Inc. company and part of CRH; Dustin England, director of safety for CR England; and R. Clay Porter, founding partner of the law firm Dennis, Corry, Porter, Smith and McMickle, long-time defenders of truck fleets and their insurers, were the featured guest speakers.

Ahlers and England each shared information about how and why their companies voluntarily moved to electronic logs. Porter talked about the ways in which CSA 2010 would change the defense requirements for truck fleets. All three, however, agreed that EOBRs are a tool that can facilitate compliance with CSA 2010 while delivering many other benefits at the same time.

“Drivers tend not to realize that CSA 2010 will personally impact them and their driving records,” noted Ahlers. “EOBRs give you a great deal of opportunity to proactively manage safety and compliance.”

The Oldcastle regional fleet operation consists of 487 power units, 402 trailers and 506 drivers. Most of the trucks are flatbeds, typically with booms and lifts. According to Ahlers, the company expected to see improved fuel efficiency, improved hours of service compliance due to automating logs, enhanced driver productivity and improved data accuracy for payroll. They also wanted to automate fuel and mileage trip reports.

Mileage improved by more than 8%, Ahlers said and the company met their other expectations as well. Now he expects the company’s EOBRs to make it easier to do a better job managing the seven Basics of CSA compliance, particularly in “red flag” violation areas. “EOBRs allow greater management of the Basics,” Ahlers said, “including maintenance.

At CR England, the company moved to EOBRs in 2009 for other reasons, Dustin England said. As a company that trains their own drivers, they were more interested in making logbooks easier to maintain for beginning drivers, reducing logbook violations and making logs easier to manage. The company also hoped to improve equipment utilization and gain access to useful real-time information.

England had plenty of successes to report. Hours of service violations decreased by 63% and the driver out-of-service rate declined 74% for starters, and on-time delivery percentages were not adversely impacted.

When it comes to compliance with CSA 2010, England said that using electronic logs “eliminates or drastically reduces 42 of the 52 CSA 2010 hours of service violations.” He also noted that “fatigued driving is our lowest CSA Basic.”

Although there are still things England said he is “keeping an eye on” with the use of EOBRs, he noted that “We would never, ever, ever go back to paper logs again. They are just too much work.”

It was a sentiment Ahlers shared. “After 30 days or so, our drivers would quit before they’d go back to paper logbooks,” he noted.

While Clay Porter also voiced his enthusiasm for EOBRs, he did have some cautionary words for fleets about life under the new CSA 2010 system of evaluating compliance with safety regulations. “All the data that will be available under CSA 2010 may let plaintiffs’ attorneys make a connection between scores and crashes,” he said, adding that they might try to use the data to prove a “culture of recklessness,” on the part of a carrier.

“A problem I have is that 75% of violations are not out-of-service and not indicative of recklessness,” he said. “The scores are self-distorting, however, because preventable and unpreventable incidents are treated the same. Warnings get the same attention as actual tickets.”

Countering the potential problem, Porter said, would require “new expertise to unravel the CSA 2010 numbers statistically,” so that jurors and others could understand what real events are behind the CSA scores.

Hundreds of people registered to see this live Webcast, which is now also available online