FMCSA Proposes Rulemaking on Electronic On-Board Recorders For Interstate Trucks

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has put out a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations to require certain motor carriers operating commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce to use electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) to document their drivers' hours of service (HOS).

EOBRs are devices attached to commercial vehicles that automatically record the number of hours drivers spend operating the vehicle. Several larger carriers have already installed EOBR technology on their fleets. Approximately 500,000 carriers would be affected by the proposed rule.

Under this proposal, all motor carriers currently required to maintain Records of Duty Status (RODS) for HOS recordkeeping would be required to use EOBRs to effectively monitor their drivers' compliance with HOS requirements. Short-haul interstate carriers that use timecards to document HOS would not be required to use EOBRs.

Carriers that violate this EOBR requirement would face civil penalties of up to $11,000 for each offense. Noncompliance would also negatively impact a carrier's safety fitness rating and U.S. Department of Transportation operating authority. In April 2010, FMCSA issued a final rule that mandates EOBRs for interstate carriers with serious patterns of HOS violations.

The proposed rulemaking does say, however, that although motor carriers subject to the proposed EOBR requirements would still need to retain some supporting documents, they would be relieved of the requirements to retain supporting documents to verify driving time. FMCSA also proposes to require all motor carriers - both RODS and timecard users - to systematically monitor their drivers' compliance with HOS requirements. Motor carriers would be given 3 years after the effective date of the final rule to comply with these requirements.

Public comments must be received by the FMCSA within 60 days of the published rule in the Federal Register.

If you wish to submit comments, simply identify by Docket Number FMCSA-2010-0167 at the web site

TRALA will work closely with our Equipment and Technology Advisory Council to monitor and decide whether to submit comments on this issue in the coming weeks.

Please contact Jake Jacoby or Joe Sculley at 703-299-9120 if you have any questions regarding this proposed new rule.