April 16, 2012 8:00 AM, EDT

Letters: EOBRs, Sunspots, Oil Demand

These Letters to the Editor appear in the April 16 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

EOBRs and Sunspots

I would like to warn trucking executives about electronic onboard recorders and electromagnetic interference, or EMI. One particular supplier of EOBRs involves a satellite communications link at the microwave frequency bandwidth of 7.5 gigahertz.

With high-powered airport radar, power lines — and now huge solar flare-ups — happening during the winter/spring sunspot activities, I have experienced weird anomalies with these devices. They include not powering up, difficulties in changing duty status and losing key logbook entry data, driver information and location tracking.

In my experience, I have seen lost logbook data for previous days, altered times recording off-duty, driving times and scale crossings times. I have called the company’s technical support only to get someone at a call center in India who can’t tell me how to correct these problems.

I also have e-mailed the company’s engineering department directly to see if they are aware of any problems associated with EMI over their bandwidth. All I get is, “Gee, I don’t know.” With professional drivers’ livelihoods and freedoms at stake, I think they should know.

Until these EMI problems with EOBRs are thoroughly addressed, they should not be used in your fleets to track driver hours-of-service data. It could cost your Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Compliance, Safety, Accountability program scores and/or mean your driver is falsely accused of log violations or other violations.

David Ritter

Over-the-Road Driver

Klamath Falls, Ore.

Statistics Don’t Show

I wonder if the authors of the “analysis” headlined “Statistics Show Drilling for More Oil in U.S. Hasn’t Reduced Fuel Prices, Despite Claims” understand economics at all (4-2, p. 6). No mention was given to the demand side of the equation.

While production may have gone up in some areas, world demand has gone up more. Emerging economies in China, India, Brazil and others continue to push up demand that outstrips production.

The real fact of the matter is that the more oil that is produced to meet that demand, the lower the price will be. Perhaps not back to less than $3 per gallon but certainly not as high as it is today.

If federal lands were opened up, more supply would help keep the cost down. Not overnight, mind you, but this argument has been going on for years, and we are seeing the results of that now.

Alternative energy sources do help lower demand for oil, but they are even more expensive, and the world is oil-driven. With the proven reserves — as well as potential new ones — we can mitigate the price increases with supply increases.

The biggest problem today is not lack of oil supplies but rather government intervention to reduce demand through high prices and bureaucratic restraints on production.

By the way — Transport Topics is doing a great job.

Jim Herman

Fleet Maintenance Manager

Berlin, Md.