FMCSA presses forward with EOBR mandate for all trucks

By Jami Jones, senior editor | 1/31/2011

All truckers subject to the hours-of-service regulations are targeted by a proposal by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to mandate electronic on-board recorders in all trucks.

The agency is proposing a 100 percent mandate of EOBRs in a notice of proposed rulemaking released by the agency Monday, Jan. 31. The notice will officially publish in the Federal Register on Feb. 1. Once the new proposal publishes in the Federal Register, truckers will have 60 days to file comments with the agency.

In addition to mandating the use of EOBRs in all trucks, the agency also is proposing to reduce the amount of supporting documents motor carriers are required to validate hours-of-service compliance.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association continues to challenge the agency?s insistence that EOBRs will improve highway safety.

?EOBRs are nothing more than over-priced record keepers,? said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of OOIDA.

According to the Association, EOBRs cannot accurately and automatically record a driver?s hours of service and duty status. They can only track the movement and location of a truck and require human interaction to record any change of duty status

Therefore, such as in the case of loading and unloading time, the device is incapable of determining the actual duty status of drivers without interaction from drivers indicating to the device that they are on-duty. Loading and unloading time should typically be logged as ?on-duty, not driving? in order to accurately reflect the hours a driver has worked.

?This proposal is actually another example of the administration?s determination to wipe out small businesses by continuing to crank out overly burdensome regulations that simply run up costs.?

In the proposal, the agency estimates the cost of an EOBR for trucking companies without fleet management systems to be between $525 and $785 per truck. However, the agency estimates it will cost only $92 per truck for companies with existing fleet management systems.

OOIDA is currently involved in litigation against FMCSA over its previous EOBR mandate.

The Association and three members filed a petition for review with the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on June 3, 2010. In addition to OOIDA, the plaintiffs include OOIDA Members William J. Culligan, Adam D. Burnett and Douglas A. Oldham.

The case is set for oral arguments next week.

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