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Will EOBRs become free apps?

The use of consumer-style Android and Apple devices for fleet management has opened up new possibilities for driving down costs. Owner operators, and even company drivers, might be willing to subsidize, or pay outright for the phone and other in-cab hardware necessary to run electronic logbooks along with other safety, compliance and performance applications. After all, the phones perform double duty as personal devices.

Drivers might also be willing to pay for part of the monthly software subscription as well. Allowing drivers to take ownership of the data might be the future of transportation. Drivers, especially owner operators, would have more flexibility to change carriers and share their data without having to change computer systems each time they change employers. They could keep the same hardware and software no matter who they worked for.

One day, EOBRs and fleet management systems might also be offered for free for fleets and drivers. Consider mobile apps like Facebook or LinkedIn. These are free because data has a market value. It can be sold to advertisers, for example.

Drivers could share industry-specific information through new social media platforms. As more drivers share free-form messages, performance details, images, videos and other content from their devices, they will create a new market for advertising.

In the future, drivers that use fleet management apps might be willing to sell their data to traffic companies and their performance statistics to driver recruiting services. Fleets already pay for MVR reports, why wouldn’t they pay to know drivers’ records for performance and profitability?

What is the industry going to do with data? While it may seem farfetched for fleets to not own drivers’ EOBR and performance data now, the trends in the consumer world make it impossible to ignore.

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Aaron Huff is the Senior Editor of Commercial Carrier Journal. Huff’s career in the transportation industry began at a family-owned trucking company and expanded to CCJ, where for the past 14 years he has specialized in covering business and technology for online and print readers and speaking at industry events. A recipient of numerous regional and national awards, Huff holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Brigham Young University and a Masters Degree from the University of Alabama.

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