August 31, 2010 3:00 PM, EDT

FMCSA Eyeing Broader EOBR Mandate

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is eyeing a much broader mandate than originally thought as part of its upcoming expanded electronic onboard recorder proposal, according to several officials who spoke with Transport Topics.

“I would say it is more than 50% they can make it work,” said an official with knowledge of FMCSA’s thinking, who asked not to be identified.

The official told TT that the agency was working to have a future mandate apply “to more carriers than were outlined” in the first EOBR final rule.

Published in April, FMCSA applied a mandate to carriers that show a poor record of compliance with the hours-of-service rules in a single compliance review, but said that in a future rulemaking that hazardous materials carriers and new trucking companies may be subject to a future, broader mandate because of the “potential safety risks” they present.

“It is all a political discussion now,” the official said, adding that the agency feels, “a broader mandate makes sense — it’s just whether they can justify the cost-benefit.” That analysis “depends on the assumptions that you make,” the official said.

Specifically, the official said FMCSA was hoping that in order to drastically increase the number of carriers required to use an EOBR, the market will come up with a low-cost, minimally functional device.