FMCSA To Force 500,000 Carriers To Use EOBRs

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DOT Safety Regulation Update Fast-Fax™
Week of January 31, 2011
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FMCSA publishes a NPRM mandating that interstate long-distance carriers use electronic logbooks.

Earlier this week, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would require interstate commercial truck and bus companies to install electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) to monitor their drivers’ hours-of-service (HOS) compliance.

This wide-sweeping proposal is expected to impact approximately 500,000 carriers, according to DOT estimates.

Who Does the Rule Cover?

In the NPRM, FMCSA is proposing that all interstate carriers who currently use Records of Duty (RODS) logbooks to document drivers’ HOS be required to use EOBRs. Those carriers who do not meet these criteria currently would not be required to implement an EOBR. This includes those who are covered by the 100- and 150-airmile exemptions. Intrastate motor carriers would also not be covered by the new regulations.

Proposed Punishments

Carriers found to be in violation of the EOBR requirement would face civil penalties of up to $11,000 for each offense. Non-compliance would also negatively impact a carrier’s safety fitness rating and could put their DOT operating authority at risk.

In addition to punishment for not having an EOBR, motor carriers could also be punished for tampering with or modifying an EOBR. A part of this anti-tampering effort would include a ban on electronic-jamming devices.

In a nod towards practicality, FMCSA will give carriers three years after the Final Rule is published before they begin enforcing the new rule.

What is an EOBR?

An EOBR is quite simply, a digital log book. It is an electronic device that records a driver’s duty time and location. These devices must meet stringent specifications. As FMCSA did not include a new definition of an EOBR nor new specification requirements, it is safe to assume that the EOBRs that they will be requiring to be installed will meet the specifications currently detailed in 49 CFR Part 395.16.

Hours-of-Service NPRM

This is the second NPRM concerning an aspect of the hours-of-service regulations to be released in the last six weeks. In late December, FMCSA released the latest proposal for ammending the always controversial regulations.

Under the proposal — still open for comments — the following would replace the current rules:

  • The proposal retains the 34-hour restart provision that allows drivers to restart the clock on their weekly 60 or 70 hours by taking at least 34 hours off-duty.
  • The restart period must include two consecutive off-duty periods from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. Also, drivers would be allowed only one restart per seven-day period.
  • The proposal calls for a 14-hour workday that includes at least a one-hour break. As a result, drivers will have a maximum of 13 hours to complete all on-duty work-related activities.
  • The agency is leaning towards adopting a 10-hour limit on daily driving time, but is soliciting comments on whether drivers should be limited to 10 or 11 hours.
  • The proposal also includes the option of extending a driver’s daily shift to 16 hours twice a week to accommodate loading and unloading issues.

Listening Session

With these two issues — forcing carriers to buy expensive EOBRs and the always unpopular hours-of-service regulations — the special listening session Fast Fax first reported in last week’s issue should be especially interesting (if not a little volatile).

The listening session will be held on February 17 in Arlington VA. Attendees can also listen in online. Details on how to attend can be found in the Transportation Ticker sidebar.

Editor: Roxanne Swidrak, Vice President, Operations • 1-800-253-5506 • • Vol. 111, No. 672 • © Foley Carrier Services, LLC. 2011