'Black box' regulation close to becoming official

By Jami Jones, senior editor | Friday, March 19, 2010

Bad actors in the trucking industry are one step closer to being saddled with electronic on-board recorders.

On Thursday, March 18, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration was given the go- ahead by the White House to move forward with its final rule mandating the use of electronic on-board recorders for chronically non-compliant motor carriers and allowing voluntary use of the devices.

According to an abstract about the final rule, motor carriers that have demonstrated a history of serious noncompliance with the hours-of-service regs would be subject to mandatory installation of EOBRs.

The motor carrier would then be required to install EOBRs in all of its CMVs regardless of their date of manufacture and to use the devices for HOS recordkeeping for a period of two years. The only way these companies wouldn’t have to install the EOBRs is if the carrier already had equipped its trucks with automatic on-board recording devices meeting the agency’s current requirements and could demonstrate to FMCSA that its drivers understand how to use the devices.

The agency is apparently going to continue to push for voluntary use of the EOBRs. FMCSA would encourage industry-wide use of EOBRs by providing incentives to carriers. Those incentives, according to the abstract, include revising the agency’s compliance review procedures to permit examination of a random sample of drivers’ records of duty status; and providing partial relief from HOS supporting documents requirements if certain conditions are satisfied. 

The agency plans to publish the final rule in the Federal Register by the end of the month.

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