The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on March 13 issued a revised proposal to mandate that electronic logging devices be installed in interstate commercial trucks and buses.
The requirement would help enforce hours-of-service rules, reduce paperwork burdens on carriers and ensure that drivers are not harassed, FMCSA said.
The new proposal supplements the agency’s February 2011 proposal. FMCSA stopped work on that requirement in 2012 after a federal court ruled that a previous regulation mandating the devices for some carriers did not properly prevent the ELDs from being used to harass drivers.
“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,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “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 proposal addresses new technical specifications for ELDs, mandates ELDs for drivers currently using record of duty status, clarifies hours-of-service supporting document requirements and outlines procedural and technical provisions aimed at ensuring that ELDs are not used to harass vehicle operators.
“By implementing electronic logging devices, we will advance our mission to increase safety and prevent fatigued drivers from getting behind the wheel,” FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro said in the statement. “With broad support from safety advocates, carriers and members of Congress, we are committed to achieving this important step in the commercial bus and truck industries.”
In an effort to allay drivers’ and motor carriers’ fears, FMCSA said in its statement that the rule protects privacy because electronic logs would only be available to law enforcement or FMCSA during roadside inspections, compliance reviews and post-crash investigations.
“American Trucking Associations supports FMCSA’s efforts to mandate these devices in commercial vehicles as a way to improve safety and compliance in the trucking industry and to level the playing field with thousands for fleets that have already voluntarily moved to this technology,” ATA President Bill Graves said.
The rule would come with a new prohibition on carriers harassing drivers, which could carry an $11,000 fine. Carriers must allow drivers access to their logs, and the devices must be able to be muted when drivers sleep.
FMCSA estimated the mandate would save 20 lives and prevent 434 injuries each year, with a net benefit to the country of $394.8 million annually. “Impaired driving, including fatigue, was listed as a factor in more than 12% of the 129,120 total crashes that involved large trucks or buses in 2012,” the agency said.
FMCSA will soon publish the proposal in the Federal Register, starting a 60-day period during which the public can comment on it. The agency will then consider the comments before making the rule final.
As proposed, the mandate would take effect two years after FMCSA makes it final. Carriers and drivers using compliance electronic logs will be allowed to continue using them for two more years after the rule takes effect.