FMCSA eases ‘supporting docs’ rule ahead of EOBRs

WASHINGTON — In anticipation of a "broader mandate" for electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs), U.S. transport regulators have proposed scrapping the need to carry several paper "supporting documents" as part of hours-of-service compliance.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says it recognizes there’s some confusion concerning the use of tracking technologies for enforcement purposes, and it’s ready to accept electronic mobile communication/tracking records to be supporting documents for hours-of-service verification, as they record the time, date, location of motor vehicles and drivers.

The proposal is said to pave the way for a revised, broader EOBR mandate later this year, which is expected to encompass a larger share of the North American carrier pool.

Earlier this year, the agency announced an interim rule requiring truckers with a 10-percent or greater HOS violation rate during a single compliance review to install EOBRs on all their vehicles, regardless of the model year, for a two-year period.

While that was stricter than a previous proposal the agency submitted under the Bush administration, many in the industry insisted the current proposal excludes too many carriers. And so, the agency promised a "broader mandate" would be published later in 2010.

At the time of publishing, the FMCSA also promised more liberal compliance review procedures.

This latest addition appears to be part of that strategy.

For starters, seven of the 30 or so examples of supporting documents, which are not usually used by enforcement, will no longer be required. They are: driver call-in records; international registration plan receipts; international fuel tax agreement receipts; trip permits; cash advance receipts; and driver fax reports.

Additionally, carriers that use qualifying EOBRs for mobile communication and tracking records will no longer have to keep several other paper-based supporting documents such as:

Bills of lading; freight bills; dispatch records; gate record receipts; weigh/scale tickets; fuel receipts; fuel billing statements; toll receipts; toll billing statements; port of entry receipts; delivery receipts; lumper receipts; interchange and inspection reports; lessor settlement sheets; over/short and damage reports; agricultural inspection reports; driver and vehicle examination reports; crash reports; telephone billing statements; credit card receipts; border crossing reports; customs declarations; traffic citations; and overweight/oversize permits.

However, carriers will reportedly not be able to challenge the accuracy of their EOBR records if taking advantage of this new policy.

Meanwhile, the agency has identified the need for further guidance on the definition of terms like "GPS" and “Advanced Information Technology” to describe electronic mobile communication tracking.

"FMCSA recognizes that these terms are no longer adequate … Such technologies can no longer be considered “advanced” as they are now widely accepted and used in the industry. Likewise, electronic mobile communication/tracking systems may rely on technology other than GPS to determine the time, date, and/or location of motor vehicles and/or drivers.

"For ease of discussion in this Policy, the use of the phrases “electronic mobile communication/tracking technology,” “electronic mobile communication/tracking systems,” and “electronic mobile communication/tracking records” shall be deemed to include those technologies and records that allow a motor carrier to identify the location of a motor vehicle or driver, or that allow a motor carrier to send or receive messages to or from its drivers."

The agency anticipates publishing the NPRM by the end of 2010 and publishing a final rule within 24 months.

Comments on the NPRM should be submitted to FMCSA by July 9, 2010. (Click here and follow the online instructions for submitting comments)

Click here to read the complete proposed rulemaking. 


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