FMCSA shifts target date for electronic log final rule, again

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 3/4/2015

A final rule mandating the use of electronic logs in all trucks is still on track to be unveiled this year. FMCSA is now planning to do it sooner rather than later.

The agency releases a status report monthly on various regulations in the pipeline at the agency. Late last week, the agency released a supplemental report that now lists Sept. 30 as the target date to publish the final rule mandating electronic logs in the Federal Register.

The supplemental report actually moved the target date up, as earlier in February the agency was still planning on publishing the final rule on Nov. 16. The updated report does not explain why the agency moved the target date to September.

It’s not uncommon for the target dates to fluctuate on any rule – not just the electronic logging final rule. In fact, as late as January, Sept. 30 was the target date to release the final rule. The agency just noodled that target date around in the two February reports.

What hasn’t changed is that details on the final rule also remain largely a mystery. Aside from the fact the agency is planning to mandate the use of electronic logs in all trucks and that there may be some concessions on what supporting documents truck drivers will be required to retain, there is little known about FMCSA’s final rule.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association was successful in defeating a previous attempt by FMCSA to mandate the use of electronic logs in motor carriers with serious hours-of-service compliance issues.

It took only one of the three arguments raised by OOIDA for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit to vacate the regulation.

The regulation under fire was the 2010 final regulation mandating the use of electronic on-board recorders for companies with a safety history that reflects a 10 percent or greater level of non-compliance with the hours-of-service regs in one compliance review.

OOIDA filed suit against the agency, contending that the rule was arbitrary and capricious because it does not “ensure that the devices are not used to harass vehicle operators,” as required by law. The Association’s lawsuit also contended that the cost-benefit analysis failed to demonstrate the benefits of the technology and that the EOBRs violate the Fourth Amendment.

The opinion from the Seventh Circuit, prepared by Circuit Judge Diane Wood, stated that the court “need address only the first issue” of driver harassment.

Rather than retool the vacated rule, FMCSA has attempted to address the harassment issue and is going for a full mandate this time around. It remains to be seen if the agency’s work has satisfied the court’s ruling or if the new final rule could withstand additional legal challenges.

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