Final Rule on EOBRs Expected in New Year, FMCSA’s Hill Says

By Sean McNally, Senior Reporter

This story appears in the Dec. 17 print edition of Transport Topics.Click here to subscribe today.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will publish its final rule on electronic onboard recorders during 2008, Administrator John Hill said.

“We are currently analyzing the approximately 750 comments received in response to [our proposal] and completing additional research and data analysis as a result of those comments to determine the content of a final rule,” Hill wrote in a Nov. 21
letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.).

“Although there are many complex technical issues involved, we plan to publish a final rule addressing EOBR use in 2008,” he wrote.

Feinstein had written to Hill on Nov. 15, raising concerns following two high-profile truck crashes in her home state.

“I am concerned that your regulations to reduce long-distance truck driver fatigue are failing,” Feinstein said. “The regulations, which require truck drivers to record their hours in written logbooks, continue to tempt drivers to falsify their books.”

“With the logbook system failing and driver fatigue increasing, it seems like common sense to require onboard computers that automatically record when a truck is driven,” she said.

Hill told Feinstein that, based on reports from state law en-forcement, “there is no indication driver fatigue was a factor in the crashes you referenced . . . therefore, mandatory use of EOBRs should not be considered a potential means of preventing crashes such as the ones that occurred in Orange County and Santa Clarita.”

In January, FMCSA published a proposal for governing EOBR use that included only a limited mandate (1-15, p. 1).

That rule would require only “carriers that have demonstrated a history of serious noncompliance with the [hours-of-service] rules” to use the technology and would provide a regulatory incentive in the form of relief from certain record-keeping requirements.