No justification yet to require EOBRs, FMCSA says

| 9/29/2004

The recent creation of universal standards for black boxes removes one roadblock to the government requiring their use, but officials with the FMCSA say the mere existence of the standards does not justify a mandate.

“Just having device standards wouldn’t by itself be enough to justify a rule requiring EOBRs. FMCSA is interested in determining whether the use of these devices can result in an affordable and standardized specification that will provide an electronic equivalent of an accurate hand-written log and provide tamper-resistant data that is easily accessible by roadside enforcement personnel,” according to a statement from the FMCSA.

The IEEE this week announced the first universal standard for event data recorders, often referred to by truckers as black boxes.

The IEEE – Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. – is an international organization that establishes standards in electronics so that devices can communicate with each other. According to information from the IEEE, the standards specify “minimal performance characteristics for onboard tamper- and crash-proof memory devices for all types and classes of highway and roadway vehicles.”

The institute’s standards – which also include a data dictionary of 86 data elements and cover device survivability – would be required before any government agency, including the FMCSA, could require black boxes on trucks, something reportedly under consideration at the FMCSA, IEEE recently announced.

In its statement on the standards, the FMCSA said rules about black boxes are becoming outdated.

“Current federal regulations allow motor carriers to equip CMVs with an automatic on-board recording device instead of requiring drivers to complete handwritten records. However, because of considerable advances in technologies used in these devices, the current on-board recording regulation is rapidly becoming obsolete,” the FMCSA statement said.

“Many commercially available on-board recorders and support systems offer drivers and motor carriers the opportunity to better plan their schedules and routes, monitor the performance of their vehicles, and use this information to improve safety and productivity.”