The EOBRs are coming. Some are already here. And this great news for all who drive the highways.

An EOBR–electronic on board recorder–is a kind of black box that records hours of operation and other very basic vehicle performance data on tour buses, 18-wheelers, tractor trailers and other large vehicles. If the White House approves regulations recently submitted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, companies that operate commercial vehicles will have a new mix of incentives and requirements to install EOBRs.

The principal use of the black boxes is to ensure that drivers adhere to federal regulations regarding how long they can keep their vehicles on the road at one stretch and over the course of each day and several days. Companies whose drivers regularly do not meet the requirements for rest will have to begin using the black boxes. The devices would make taking any needed further enforcement actions easier.

Of course, even for perfectly compliant companies, EOBRs largely eliminate the need for drivers, dispatchers and mechanics to maintain paper records of hours of service.

Fatigued truck and bus drivers cause a large number of accidents. Encouraging voluntary adoption of or federally requiring EOBRs can only help drowsy, inattentive or even sleeping commercial vehicle drivers off the road. The FMSCA regulation currently awaiting a final signoff cannot take effect soon enough.