Cover Story
The big squeeze
How to comment on EOBR proposal

By David Tanner, associate editor

Truckers can still comment on the issue of electronic on-board recorders even though the FMCSA's public listening sessions on the topic have concluded.

All federal proposals and rulemakings have an official docket. An easy and user-friendly way to offer comments for consideration by a federal agency is through the website, regulations.gov. If you know the docket number, the name of the rule or action, or a few key words, you're just a step away from making your voice heard.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has sought public comments on the issue of EOBRs and driver harassment in the docket and at a pair of public listening sessions held in March and April. The agency is interested in hearing specifically about how an EOBR could be used to harass drivers.

OOIDA is firmly opposed to a government mandate for EOBRs, and the Association includes privacy rights and the harassment issue among its chief concerns. The Association is urging truckers to stay involved and active on the issue.

A posting by the FMCSA in February in the Federal Register indicated that the agency intends to pursue an industry-wide mandate for EOBRs despite having one rule tossed out already.

As yet, there is no rulemaking or notice of rulemaking for an industry-wide mandate for EOBRs. The February posting simply indicated that policymakers are considering a future action.

You can make a difference in the outcome.

Written comments can be faxed to 202-493-2251; filed online via a federal online rulemaking portal at www.regulations.gov; or delivered or mailed to:

Docket Management Facility
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave. SE, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140
Washington, DC 20590-0001

Don't forget the docket number, FMCSA-2010-0167. The ongoing EOBR docket is called "Electronic On-Board Recorders and Hours of Service Supporting Documents."

Background information and notices are available online at regulations.gov and at fmcsa.dot.gov.

The regulations.gov site contains easy-to-follow search functions and instructions for commenting on the action.

The FMCSA is interested in your answers to the following questions:

1 The agency wants info on potential forms of harassment, such as those not prohibited already by current regulations, efforts to maintain or improve productivity, and those facilitated or made possible solely by EOBR devices and not as a result of functions or fleet management systems. Should the definition of harassment be broader? Or narrower?


2 Are there types of driver harassment to which drivers are uniquely vulnerable if they are using EOBRs rather than paper logs? If so, how would use of an EOBR rather than a paper log make a driver more susceptible to harassment? Are there ways in which the use of an EOBR rather than a paper log makes a driver less susceptible to harassment?


3 What types of harassment are motor carrier drivers subjected to currently, how frequently, and to what extent does this harassment happen? How would an electronic device capable of contemporaneous transmission of information to a motor carrier guard against (or fail to guard against) this kind of harassment?


4 What measures should the agency consider taking to eliminate the potential for EOBRs to be used to harass drivers? Are there specific functions and capabilities of EOBRs that should be restricted to reduce the likelihood of the devices being used to harass vehicle operators?


5 Provided such devices are not used to coerce drivers into violating federal safety regulations, where is the line between legitimate productivity measures and actions that may be construed as harassment? LL