The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has announced a proposal to require interstate commercial truck and bus companies to use electronic logging devices (ELDs) in their vehicles to improve compliance with safety rules that govern the number of hours a driver can work. This proposed rulemaking would reduce the paperwork burden associated with hours-of-service recordkeeping for interstate truck and bus drivers—the largest in the federal government after tax-related filings—and improve the quality of logbook data.
“Today’s proposal will improve safety while helping businesses by cutting unnecessary paperwork—exactly the type of government streamlining President Obama called for in his State of the Union address,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “By leveraging innovative technology with electronic logging devices, we have the opportunity to save lives and boost efficiency for both motor carriers and safety inspectors.” The proposed rule will ultimately reduce hours-of-service violations by making it more difficult for drivers to misrepresent their time on logbooks and avoid detection by FMCSA and law enforcement personnel. Analysis shows it will also help reduce crashes by fatigued drivers and prevent approximately 20 fatalities and 434 injuries each year for an annual safety benefit of $394.8 million. The supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking, which was sent to the Federal Register to publish March 12, supersedes a prior 2011 notice of proposed rulemaking related to electronic on-board recorders. It includes provisions to: •Respect driver privacy by ensuring that ELD records continue to reside with motor carriers and drivers. Electronic logs will continue to only be made available to FMCSA personnel or law enforcement during roadside inspections, compliance reviews, and post-crash investigations. •Protect drivers from harassment through an explicit prohibition on harassment by a motor carrier owner toward a driver using information from an ELD. It will also establish a procedure for filing a harassment complaint and creates a maximum civil penalty of up to $11,000 for a motor carrier that engages in harassment of a driver that leads to an hours-of-service violation or the driver operating a vehicle when they are so fatigued or ill it compromises safety. The proposal will also ensure that drivers continue to have access to their own records and require ELDs to include a mute function to protect against disruptions during sleeper berth periods. •Increase efficiency for law enforcement personnel and inspectors who review logbooks by making it more difficult for a driver to cheat when submitting records of duty status and ensuring electronic logs can be displayed and reviewed electronically, or printed, with potential violations flagged. For more information, access www.fmcsa.dot.gov.