Senate bill would require EOBRs on trucks

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A bipartisan bill tabled in the U.S. Senate could kick-start a mandatory electronic on-board recorder rulemaking that for years has been stuck in the regulatory gears of the U.S. Dept. of Transportation.

U.S. Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) today introduced legislation that tasks the DOT with issuing a final EOBR rule to monitor hours-of-service compliance within 18 months of the bill’s enactment, as well as setting design and performance standards for the devices.

"No one wants to share the road with tired truckers, but we all expect our stores to be full of merchandise. Meeting these expectations is a constant balancing act for the trucking industry,” Pryor said in a press release. “After several meetings with industry and Senate hearings on highway safety, I believe the most sensible and effective solution is to require the use of electronic on-board recorders. This measure will ensure the entire industry is putting safety and driver quality of life before profit.” 

Maybe the US Senate could spur on a hard
EOBR rule proponents have been waiting years for

According to the senators, federal regulations were first established in the 1930s to prevent overworked, sleep-deprived truck drivers from causing accidents, but they have been difficult to enforce.

While many large carriers voluntarily use electronic logbooks, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has spent years working on a mandatory EOBR rule and earlier this year proposed a requirement for truckers with a 10-percent or greater HOS violation rate to install the devices.

As it currently stands, that proposal has come under fire from several industry and enforcement stakeholders, spurring the agency to draft several technical amendments. FMCSA has also indicated that a stricter, broader mandate could be on the way.

Proponents of a universal EOBR rule are hoping the Senators’ proposed Commercial Driver Compliance Improvement Act expedites the regulatory process.

A coalition of large trucking companies involving J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Knight Transportation, Maverick USA, Schneider National, and U.S. Xpress Enterprises, publicly endorsed the bill today.

"In this Nation, there are large and small corporations that have built their manufacturing and supply chains on the backs of motor carriers and truck drivers who were determined to satisfy these shippers demands," said Steve Williams, Chairman & CEO, Maverick USA in Little Rock, Arkansas.

"Large and small motor carriers are at the mercy of the marketplace defined by the lowest common denominator. The mandatory use of EOBRs is the only salvation for the motor carrier community to collectively resist the power of the purse."

Don Osterberg, the esteemed senior VP of Safety at Schneider National says EOBRs will reinforce the "science-based, reasonable, and effective" hours-of-service rules currently in place. 

"The problem isn’t with the HOS rules, but a lack of compliance with the rules. Electronic logs (EOBRs) take the non-compliance issues off the table."

The legislation comes on the same day that National Traffic Safety Board recommended a salvo of new rules to reduce the number of fatigue related crashes on the highway, including mandatory video event recorders.

The NTSB also called on regulators to step up efforts to introduce legislation requiring fatigue management programs for carriers and crash-avoidance technology for new trucks.

"For the past 30 years, the NTSB has advocated the use of onboard data recorders to increase Hours of Service compliance…the NTSB recommended that they be required on all commercial vehicles,” Deborah Hersman, Chairman of the (NTSB).

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