Thursday, Jan. 11, 2007 - Motor carriers who make it a habit of not complying with the hours-of-service regulations could have a new passenger of sorts in their truck - an electronic on-board recorder - or as drivers like to call it, a "black box."
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration unveiled its "notice of proposed rulemaking" on the use of EOBRs in a press conference Thursday morning.
During the press conference, FMCSA Administrator John Hill outlined the agency's proposal, which includes mandatory use of EOBRs for motor carriers "that have demonstrated a history of serious non-compliance with the hours-of-service rules."
According to the proposed regulation, if FMCSA officials determine - based on HOS records reviewed during each of two compliance reviews conducted within a two-year period - that a motor carrier had a 10 percent or greater violation rate, the carrier would be mandated to use EOBRs for two years.
All of the trucks owned and leased to the motor carrier would be required to have EOBRs installed, according to the proposed reg.
In addition to mandating the use of EOBRs for motor carriers with patterns of noncompliance, the proposed regulation offers incentives for motor carriers that voluntary use EOBRs.
Some of the incentives mentioned in the proposed regulation include:
- Revising FMCSA's compliance review procedures to permit examination of a random sample of drivers' records-of-duty status;
- Providing partial relief from HOS supporting documents requirements if certain conditions are satisfied; and
- "Other potential incentives made possible by the inherent safety and driver health benefits of EOBR technology."
The proposed regulation also tackles the technology of EOBRs. FMCSA officials have proposed that the EOBRs:
- Be able to identify individual drivers;
- Be tamper resistant;
- Conduct self-tests and self-monitoring;
- Be able to produce records for audit; and, among other things
- Include GPS tracking of trucks at one-minute intervals.
The proposed regulation would not only apply to U.S.-domiciled carriers, but also to foreign-domiciled carriers subject to compliance reviews by FMCSA - which at this point is just Canadian trucking companies. If the border is opened to Mexican-domiciled carriers, those carriers would also be subject to the EOBR regulation, if it is adopted.
The proposed regulation is scheduled to be printed in the Federal Register in upcoming days. At that point, a 90-day comment period will begin.
After the close of the 90-day comment period, FMCSA staffers will review all of the comments and a few different things could happen: The agency could issue a supplemental notice seeking more comments, or issue a final rule.
Hill noted in the press conference that the agency anticipates having a final EOBR regulation sometime in the next 18 months to two years.
Leaders of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association are reviewing the 200-plus page proposed rule and are expected soon to issue comments on its potential impact.
For a complete copy of the proposed regulation: http://dmses.dot.gov/docimages/pdf99/435424_web.pdf
- By Jami Jones, senior editor