U.S. carriers like EOBR rule; Critics criticize

WASHINGTON — No surprises here. The American Trucking Associations has declared its support for yesterday’s much-anticipated rule on electronic on-board recorders, while long-time government critics like Public Citizen called the proposal a “weak standard.”

As todaystrucking.com first reported yesterday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s proposed EOBR rule requires carriers and independent owner-ops charged with two “serious” hours-of-service violations (a rate of violation greater than 10%), in a two-year period, to outfit their entire fleet with EOBR technology. (Click on the Related Stories link at the bottom of the page for a complete report on the proposal).

Violations that trigger an EOBR requirement will be primarily determined by drivers’ record of duty status as part of a company compliance review.

EOBRs will continue to be voluntary for all other carriers, although the agency is introducing incentives to encourage EOBR implementation for all trucks that haul in the U.S.

CTA notes Transport Canada might well
take its lead from U.S. EOBR policy

The ATA said the proposed regulation outlines a sensible approach to the greater implementation of technology designed to improve safety and document driver compliance with work and rest rules.

“We are pleased that DOT has taken another solid step toward ensuring future gains in improved highway safety,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “We support this incentive-based approach to the use of electronic on-board recorders. Technology can play a significant role in enhancing road safety and help to ensure the reliability of commercial vehicle operation.”

ATA is also pushing for a pilot program that would determine the effectiveness of EOBRs in improving compliance and safety performance, while also addressing the industry’s diverse nature.

Meanwhile, Joan Claybrook, president of public interest group Public Citizen, blasted the FMCSA’s for its decision to hold off on a industry-wide mandate. “Instead of mandating on-board recorders in all commercial trucks with a fair, across-the-board standard, FMCSA today released a proposed rule that would require recorders only for trucking companies that have been caught significantly violating hours of service rules,” she said.

“We know that many more companies violate these rules because their drivers keep fake log books, which are so legendarily erroneous that they are known in the trade as ‘comic books,’ but they are not detected. Under the FMCSA rule, these scofflaws can continue to violate the law without consequences and put the public at risk.”

Public Citizen is the main group that got a Federal Circuit Court to throw out the FMCSA’s new HOS rules in 2004. The court demanded FMCSA rewrite the rule and chastised the government agency for not including an EOBR provision.

Public Citizen is once again among a handful of groups that is challenging the FMCSA’s revised HOS rules published in 2005.

Here in Canada, Canadian Trucking Alliance CEO David Bradley suggested the proposal would have a minor regulatory impact on Canadian carriers since HOS violations would be determined through a company audit rather than roadside inspections.

However, Bradley noted Transport Canada and the provinces might well take their lead from the U.S. in terms of an EOBR policy in this country. The Council of Ministers is currently reviewing several reports on EOBRs.

In late 2004, CTA called for mandatory onboard recorders on all trucks, with the choice of technology left to carriers. However, a key component of CTA’s position was that government policies on EOBRs must be fully harmonized between Canada and the U.S.

“Our concern with making EOBRs mandatory only for repeat violators is that it holds those carriers of any size, who are more likely to cross a scale or to have an audit to a higher standard than others.”

The full Notice of Proposed Rulemaking will be published in the Federal Register on Jan. 18, 2007, and public comments will be accepted until April 18, 2007. To request a copy of the notice, e-mail: news@fmcsa.dot.gov.

Have your say

This is a moderated forum. Comments will no longer be published unless they are accompanied by a first and last name and a verifiable email address. (Today's Trucking will not publish or share the email address.) Profane language and content deemed to be libelous, racist, or threatening in nature will not be published under any circumstances.