I just read something I did not know. In the EU trucks and buses are required to have a gadget installed which records the speed and some other data at all times 24/7. Drivers are required to take 45 minute breaks every 4 hrs and cannot drive more than 9 hrs daily and a bunch of other, pretty strict regulations. The police can stop the driver at any time and inspect the graphic disk where speed is recorded so they know if the driver exceded the speed limit at any time and/or if he did not take the required breaks, drove more hours than allowed etc. I did not know about these recorderds installed in every truck and bus. Is there anything similar in the USA? I have never heard of it but, then again, I had never heard of it in Europe either. Anyone know how long this has been required in Europe?
I recently spoke with a long-distance trucker who informed me the rigs he drives have speed governors, but experience on the highway tells me this is hardly universal.
When I drove a cab, we were not allowed to drive more than 12 hours per day, and had to maintain loga that would indicate how long we had driven on a particular day.
If that gets passed in the USA I’d chalk it up to the railroad lobby. The railroads have long felt slighted by the truckers’ advantages in the shipping industry. I saw a post re this on a railfan sight recently.
I don’t think it’ll ever happen in the USA, though. Them truckers’ have some serious lobby power themselves…
The equipment is called the tachograph and it has been compulsory for vehicles registered in EU member countries since 1985. Running a search on “tachograph” shows that they are available in the USA, but somebody else will have to explain the relevant laws if any.
Many US companies have onboard computers which the driver unloads data every time the returns to their terminal.
The data covers not only speed, but RPMs… drivers get busted for not shifting properly (tearing up equipment and wasting fuel) and hours in service violations, among other tings.
I only know for sure of Manfredi from personal experience, but suspect that nearly all of the bigger companies use the same type of device. I would guess that most of the companies that use those sattelite GPS units (white domes on the roof of their cabs), also have those computers onboard.
Tachographs are mandatory in the EU for trucks of more than 3.5 metric tons (3500 kg/7716 lb) max gross weight . They record engine on/off state, speed and distance over time. In Germany the driver is required to have his tachograph disks from the last week on board - don’t know about other EU countries.
The main rationale is to avoid accidents due to fatigue.
Text of the relevant EU regulation (see Article 6 for driving periods and Articles 7/8 for rest periods).
A few years back, I was working for the largest US grocery supplier, and they were in the process of installing computer units in all their semi truck cabs.
The driver inserted a 3.5" floppy disk into the unit when he got in, and it recorded all kinds of data onto the disk all during the trip. At the end of the run, the driver took the floppy out, brought it into the truckers room at the home warehouse, and inserted it into a computer, which automatically produced the ICC Truck Driver’s Log document, nearly completely done for the driver. It also transferred all kinds of data to the truck maintenance database on that engine’s performance.
The company was quite pleased with this system, because:
the drivers would actually use it, because it provided a benefit for them (their automated log books). Previous systems had failed because drivers just refused to use them.
The info it provided allowed their mechanics to recognize problems with a truck before it actually failed. This saved the company a great deal of money on repairs, and on meeting quality goals. (Having a semi truckload of perishable groceries & frozen foods broken down halfway across South Dakota, far from any mechanic, can be very expensive and very annoying to customers.)
And while this system recorded all kinds of detail about the driver & his habits, (like if he was speeding, if he waited for the appropriate rpm’s before shifting gears, etc.), it was company policy to NOT use this info to reprimand drivers – for fear that this would lead to the drivers or their union refusing to use the system. Shipping managers sometimes used this info to talk with problem drivers, but that was done privately and unofficially.
Also, all of this was internal company information. None of it was ever provided to any police or highway patrol officers. (Of course, the drivers logbooks were filed with the ICC.)
Thanks for the information. Given the consequences of accidents in which buses and big trucks are involved I would say this is a good idea. BTW I like the use of “as the crow flies” in the text of the regulation.
Usually the way it works is that the mechanics set the CPU to detect any instance above a particular speed but there isn’t any constant data stream recorded of all speeds at all times.
RPM’s are strictly for engine performance analysis and has nothing to do with a driver’s shifting habits.
The bulk of trucking companies prefer the driver to violate hours of service laws as long as they aren’t caught (In fact they subtly encourage it as long as it’s done “right” and the D.O.T inspectors can’t prove illegality).
The CPU’s are much more popular and they are almost exclusively for the use of the maintenance staff. The GPS systems are more expensive and aren’t really as useful. Some companies use them to spy on thier drivers but it’s pretty rare (dispatchers already have a heavy workload without constantly keeping track of where their drivers are).
The D.O.T. has always spoken about making the hours of service laws stricter and I’ve thought quite a bit about the future of trucking and all I’ve seen is that the price of goods would inflate by a large margin (I think that’s the overriding reason why nothing has been done so far)
It might be stricter in Europe but I imagine that’s why I’m seeing more and more European drivers here in America (they all say you can’t make any money at it over there)