WASHINGTON, D.C. — Repeat Hours-of-Service violators will be bearing the brunt if the Federal Motor Carrier Administrations proposed rule for electronic on-board recorders comes into affect. According to the proposal, announced today during a press conference lead by FMCSA Administrator John Hill, truck companies with a history of serious Hours-of-Service violations will be required to install EOBRs in all of their commercial vehicles for a minimum of two years.
Hill estimated that there are currently about 930 carriers with 17,500 drivers that would fall under the category of serious HoS offenders.
We make it top priority to focus on those companies who are most likely to be a safety hazard on the road, Hill said. There are hundreds of thousands of trucks and buses on Americas roads today. We have to find other ways to get more of these units on more vehicles, without creating an unreasonable burden with a government mandate.
The proposed rule also encourages industry-wide use of EOBRs by providing incentives for voluntary use. Hill said incentives include the examination of a random sample of drivers records of duty status as part of a company compliance review and partial relief from HoS supporting documents requirements.
The technical element of the proposed rule aims to standardize the technology for industry-wide use. The rule would require EOBRs to record basic information needed to track a drivers duty status, including identity of the driver, duty status, date, time and location of the commercial vehicle, and distance travelled. It would also add a new requirement to use Global Positioning System (GPS) technology or other location tracking systems to automatically identify the location of the vehicle, which further reduces the likelihood of falsification of HoS information, Hill said.
EOBRs installed in commercial vehicles manufactured on or after two years from the effective date of a final rule would have to meet theses new technical requirements, but those that are voluntarily installed before that time would be allowed to continue for the life of the vehicle.
Media attending the press conference were shown one example of what the display of an EOBR unit might look like.
Currently, a driver has to provide a roadside officer with a printout or the officer must physically climb into the cab to read the screen, Hill said. Our proposed technical specifications would dramatically improve the ease and convenience of using these devices as a safety tool.
First, there would be standard display of specific data fields, meaning no matter where the truck is or which manufacturers device is being used, every read-out and display would be in an identical format. In addition, the technology will have to support the ability to be downloaded either by hard wire or wireless transmission, Hill said. Uniformity will also help drivers and law enforcement know how to use these devices regardless of which manufacturer or model they are using, Hill continued.
While this technology is at our disposal, we must always remember that it is just another tool to ensure safe driver behaviour, Hill said. Drivers must also follow the Hours-of-Service rules, which protect them and protect those with whom they share the road. Electronic on-board recorders will help ensure that these important rules are followed.
Pick up Truck News February issue for more details, including industry reaction to the FMCSAs proposal.
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