WASHINGTON, D.C.— Mandatory electronic logging is one step closer to being a requirement in the US.
The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has put forward a proposal mandating the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs)–or electronic onboard recorders (EOBRs)—for interstate commercial trucks and bus companies.
Technically the FMCSA issued a Supplement Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and submitted it to the Federal Register for publication. (This proposal supersedes an earlier 2011 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.) Before any agency can enact a new rule, the agency’s plan must be published in the Federal Register in order to notify the public and give people an opportunity to submit comments. Comment periods typically range between 30 and 60 days, although some can run as long as 180 days.
According to the Department of Transportation, the Supplemental Notice includes provisions to
- “Respect driver privacy by ensuring that ELD records continue to reside with the motor carriers and drivers. Electronic logs will continue to only be made available to FMCSA personnel or law enforcement during roadside inspections, compliance reviews and post-crash investigations.”
- “Protect drivers from harassment through an explicit prohibition on harassment by a motor carrier owner towards a driver using information from an ELD. It will also establish a procedure for filing a harassment complaint and creates a maximum civil penalty of up to $11,000 for a motor carrier that engages in harassment of a driver that leads to an hours-of-service violation or the driver operating a vehicle when they are so fatigued or ill it compromises safety. The proposal will also ensure that drivers continue to have access to their own records and require ELDs to include a mute function to protect against disruptions during sleeper berth periods.”
- “Increase efficiency for law enforcement personnel and inspectors who review driver logbooks by making it more difficult for a driver to cheat when submitting their records of duty status and ensuring the electronic logs can be displayed and reviewed electronically, or printed, with potential violations flagged.”
US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx proclaimed both the political merits of the announcement as well as the business benefits.
“Today’s proposal will improve safety while helping businesses by cutting unnecessary paperwork—exactly the type of government streamlining President Obama called for in his State of the Union address,” he said. “By leveraging innovative technology with electronic logging devices, we have the opportunity to save lives and boost efficiency for both motor carriers and safety inspectors.”
FMCSA administrator Anne S. Ferro, spoke about how the devices will help get fatigued drivers off the road. FMSCA statistics show ELDs/EOBRs help reduce crashes by fatigued drivers, and prevent approximately 20 fatalities and 434 injuries per year.
“By implementing Electronic Logging Devices, we will advance our mission to increase safety and prevent fatigued drivers from getting behind the wheel,” said Ferro. “With broad support from safety advocates, carriers and members of Congress, we are committed to achieving this important step in the commercial
The proposal also incorporates the mandates included in the most recent transportation bill, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) Act, and other statutes.
In response to the announcement about the Supplemental Notice, American Trucking Associations executives issued statements welcoming the proposal.
“ATA supports FMCSA’s efforts to mandate these devices in commercial vehicles as a way to improve safety and compliance in the trucking industry and to level the playing field with thousands for fleets that have already voluntarily moved to this technology,” said ATA president and CEO Bill Graves.
“It is past time to replace pencil and paper with 21st Century technology,” said ATA chair Phil Byrd.
“We’re pleased that we’re now seeing a proposal from FMCSA,” said ATA executive vice-president Dave Osiecki. “After carefully considering stakeholder input on this proposal, we urge the agency to move quickly to craft a final rule that ensures deployment of tamper-proof equipment, while still ensuring the regulatory flexibility needed to accommodate the diversity of the trucking industry and the ELD vendor community.
“We especially appreciate FMCSA proposing that paper printouts of ELD data be an acceptable means of demonstrating hours of service compliance, but not requiring all ELDs to be printer-equipped,” he added.
Click here for more details about the Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on Electronic Logging Devices.