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May 29, 2013 10:30 AM, EDT

FMCSA Taking Comments in EOBR Survey Regarding Driver Harassment

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has opened a 30-day public comment period on its plans to survey more than 1,000 drivers and motor carriers for input on ways that drivers can potentially be harassed by the use of electronic logging devices.

The drivers will be surveyed randomly at truck stops to avoid being intimidated by their employers, FMCSA said in a Federal Register notice published Tuesday, even as the agency works toward issuing a final ELD rule.

FMCSA said it plans to randomly survey drivers at truck stops to avoid concerns that drivers will “not feel free to comment without the fear of intimidation by their superiors” when using devices such as electronic onboard recorders, or EOBRs.

The EOBR harassment survey is in direct response to a 2011 federal court ruling rejecting FMCSA’s previous logging device rule that did not go far enough to protect drivers against potential harassment from supervisors using the devices.

American Trucking Associations wrote a letter supporting use of EOBRs and the survey’s goals, in which it stated that “ATA supports laws and regulations mandating the use of [EOBRs] for recording drivers’ compliance with Federal hours-of-service regulations. ATA also supports the FMCSA plan to survey drivers and carriers on how ELDs can be used to monitor productivity and their potential use as a tool to harass drivers.”

FMCSA plans to issue a supplemental proposed rule in November, but is not on track to meet a congressional mandate that the final rule be issued by October 2013. So far, the agency has not said when the final rule will be issued.

Duane DeBruyne, an FMCSA spokesman, said the harassment survey will be used in the implementation of the final ELD rule and not the supplemental rule.

“The Federal Register notice is to inform the public of our intention for the survey and to solicit public comment,” DeBruyne said. “Following the closing of the public comment period, the intention is to have the survey completed in order to inform the electronic logging devices final rule.”

Comments are due by June 27. Click here to view FMCSA’s Federal Register notice on EOBRs and the driver harassment survey, or to comment on it. (U.S. government website.)