EOBR rule published; targets carriers with HOS violations

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will require carriers with a pattern of hours of service violations to install electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs), and the rule could be expanded to include more trucks later this year.

The new rule was published on April 2 and it calls for carriers with 10 percent or more HOS violations during a compliance review to install EOBRs in all their vehicles for a minimum of two years.

The administration estimates nearly 5,700 interstate carriers will use EOBRs after the final rule’s first year of implementation.

"We are committed to cracking down on carriers and drivers who put people on our roads and highways at risk," said Secretary Ray LaHood. "This rule gives us another tool to enforce hours-of-service restrictions on drivers who attempt to get around the rules."

The rule will go into effect on June 1, 2012 and is considerably stricter than a previous proposal from the FMCSA.

The original option would have required EOBR usage for carriers charged with two serious HOS review violations (with a rate of violation greater than 10 percent), in a two-year period. Under this less strict option, it was estimated about 1,000 carriers would be required to use EOBRs.

That proposal was criticized by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board as being too soft.

"Safety is our highest priority," said FMCSA administrator Anne Ferro. "In addition to requiring EOBRs for carriers that have already demonstrated a pattern of hours-of-service violations, we will initiate a rulemaking later this year that considers an EOBR mandate for a broader population of commercial motor carriers."

The new rule also provides new technical performance standards for EOBRs installed in commercial motor vehicles, including requirements for recording the date, time and location of a driver’s duty status.

And EOBRs required under the new rule will have to be installed, meaning tied into the truck’s engine. The FMCSA has decided that it will be easier to ensure compliance if EOBRs are tied right into the truck, rather than allowing wireless GPS systems to track a driver’s hours.

Another stipulation of the rule is that the EOBR will have to do the official HOS tracking automatically, with drivers being able to add information to the record, but the original information must be kept.

Additionally, carriers that voluntarily adopt EOBRs will receive relief from some of FMCSA’s requirements to retain HOS supporting documents, such as toll receipts used to check the accuracy of driver logbooks.

Meanwhile, north of the border the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators has begun drafting a related rule on EOBRs.

The limited scope of the U.S. rule, even temporarily, could mean that the Canadian Trucking Alliance‘s wish for a universal mandate for all carriers in Canada would be difficult to pass.

— with files from truckinginfo.com

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