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Electronic logging, sleep apnea screening requirements still on US lawmakers’ radar

SEATTLE, Wash. -- It could be 2015 or 2016 before the US mandates the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) to track hours-of-service, according to former FMCSA administrator and current principal of TransSafe Consulting, Annette Sandberg.



SEATTLE, Wash. — It could be 2015 or 2016 before the US mandates the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) to track hours-of-service, according to former FMCSA administrator and current principal of TransSafe Consulting, Annette Sandberg.

However, there are good reasons for carriers to consider using ELDs or electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) before they are mandated, she added, when speaking during a Zonar-sponsored Webinar on coming regulatory changes.

A rulemaking on ELDs (the terminology was changed from EOBRs at the behest of industry, to ensure the regulations would pertain only to the collection of HoS data, and not other information collected by EOBRs) is likely to be published by October of this year, Sandberg said. That would be followed by a 60-day comment period, with a final rule posted sometime in 2014. It would take another one or two years to fully implement the new requirement, Sandberg added.

The industry has had plenty of warning that an ELD mandate was in development. However, there have been a couple setbacks along the way. One was a successful legal challenge by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), which argued that such devices can be used to harass drivers into working longer hours. The ruling forced FMCSA to go back to the drawing board, host a number of listening sessions and investigate the potential for harassment resulting from the use of ELDs.

The other setback, Sandberg said, was the result of concerns in the industry that not all devices on the market will be able to meet the requirements of the regulation. Currently, manufacturers of ELDs are self-certified. Sandberg said plans are underway to introduce a third-party certification process, so that fleet customers can be sure the products they’re buying will be compliant with the regulation.

“The Agency and others indicated there might need to be a more robust certification process, where they have a third-party do the certification and make sure all the devices on the market are capable of doing what they say they’ll do,” Sandberg explained.

Despite the delays, Sandberg said carriers she has been working with through her consulting firm are seeing benefits in transitioning to electronic logs early.

“For hours-of-service, the biggest hurdle is getting drivers away from the paper, getting them to understand these devices make their lives much easier. Quite frankly, a lot of drivers don’t understand all the nuances with the rules – particularly with these changes coming in July – and these devices will do it for you. They’ll tell the driver when they need to take a break, how many hours they have left, when they’re out of hours, when they’re potentially in violation,” Sandberg said. “I strongly encourage carriers to look at these electronic systems and whether they can fit into their model, because I think it makes drivers’ lives easier and it certainly makes the carrier’s life easier as it relates to compliance and proving compliance.”

Sleep apnea

Another impending rule that will affect carriers operating in the US is the launch of mandatory sleep apnea screening for high-risk drivers. Talks are underway to decide whether to require all drivers to be screened as part of their medical, or whether guidance should be provide that would require drivers with certain physical attributes (based on neck size or body mass index, for example) to be tested for the condition.

The FMCSA last year issued a guidance based on body mass index, then quickly retracted it. Sandberg said it’s expected the FMCSA will issue a rulemaking, opening it to public comment before coming out with a final rule.

“This is going to be a very big issue for anybody in the industry, simply because stats out there show truck drivers have a much higher incidence of obesity (than the general public), which is a big indicator of them being likely to have apnea,” Sandberg explained. “We’re waiting to see what this might do, but it will increase the cost for anyone that runs a commercial motor vehicle fleet and has a lot of drivers on staff, as almost every carrier would have to test at least a portion of their drivers for apnea.”


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7 Comments » for Electronic logging, sleep apnea screening requirements still on US lawmakers’ radar
  1. Jason Mauzey says:

    I like the Electronic logging it would make easier for me, sleep apnea screening . I just found out that I have sleep apnea this year . I took myself of the road because of sleep apnea ,I did not want the loss for a love one wasn’t comeing home for falling asleep behind the wheel . I made a good judgement.

  2. John says:

    Lets not kid our selves most companies are still glad we can “adjust” our logs a bit to get around traffic and construction delays . If you think the driver shortage is bad now just wait I figure it will take about 15% more drivers when this comes in just to keep up, looking forward to a very increased paycheck. This will not work out for anyone except the hardware sellers of this equetment it will be a total mess.

  3. Andre Duclos SCM (Master of Supply Chain and Logistics) says:

    EOBR

  4. Jim says:

    I have concerns about the neck size to determine sleep apnea, I am 6 ft tall with 17 in neck, my son is 6 ft 4 in 245 lb with a 19 inch neck. neither of us has apnea so where is the medical proof neck size is an true measure???

  5. Kent Smith says:

    Neck size is certainly a predictor for obstructive sleep apnea (more so than obesity). This has been shown in many studies. You say you don’t have apnea, but have you and your son both been tested in a sleep study? I only ask because you did not mention how you know, and the ONLY way to know is through a sleep study. Private medical insurance usually covers these fairly well, so regardless of any mandates, if you have any sleep problems or feel fatigued, you owe it to yourself, your loved ones and the public to get tested. And no, I am certainly not a politician.

  6. Timothy Willard says:

    I believe in electronic log devices as long as we get paid by the making all parties responsible (drivers shippersa recievers dispatchers etc) in stead of the driver always getting penalized for mistakes made by other parties then we will not worry about lost pay time etc and we would not have to try to streach to feed our families. Paying by the mile should be outlawed as it encourages us to cheat please just give us a chance as the edr will show if we are working or slacking off . Thks Tim

  7. Jordan says:

    Having originally come to Canada to drive from Europe I dread the day I have to go electronic. My job driving in Canada and the US is much friendlier and stress free due to the fact I’m not constantly clock watching and panicing about my hours running out before I can reach a safe and suitable parking spot. In Europe we get huge fines for going so much as a second over our time, there is no allowance for error or respect for our human requirements such as toilet facilities, we have to stop, or else! Now we see the same theme on American roads. Two years ago it was rare to see trucks parked on the shoulder of exit/entry ramps, now look, in many parts of the country, there are dozens of trucks huddled on the shoulder, inches away from passing traffic as they have to make do with dangerous parking options to satisfy the electronic log book, yet they have nowhere to go to the bathroom, they have nowhere to have a shower, they have nowhere to get something to eat, in short they are confined by law to remain stationary in a tin box prison cell for ten hours in conditions that even convicted criminals would not have to endure and would never be expected to endure, yet we’re expected to. I’m still on paper logs, like all of us were until recently and like most, if a rest area or truckstop is full, I will drive to the next and the next, even if that means going over my time by an hour or more, I dont think thats unreasonable, I’m not an animal to be tied to a fence post for the night without a second thought and I’m not a robot or a light bulb with an on or off button so why am I, and all of us expected to bahave as such? I would not have an issue with electronic logs in princepal if drivers were protected from the above mentioned abuses to their freedoms and would be guarunteed protection from prosecution of exceeding their time when they can’t find safe parking but just like in Europe the issue isn’t one of driver welfare, its one of total control of peoples lives, to the minute, complete control and any deviation from that government control will lead to huge fines and any subsequent consequences that could lead to. We’ve had this sort of control in Europe for years now and its a big reason so many of us have moved to Canada, to get away from it and live and work in a more free environment. I now look on in horror as Canadians and Americans flock towards the proverbial cliff like sheep in their eagerness to adopt these measures. Good luck, we’ll all need it.

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