SPECIAL REPORT: Senator calls for EOBRs on all trucks

| 12/15/2009

Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2009 – U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ, wants to mandate the use of electronic on-board recorders, or EOBRs, on all commercial vehicles and not on just the bad actors.

Land Line has learned that Lautenberg is expected to unveil his proposal on Thursday, Dec. 17, during a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee markup of the Motor Coach Enhanced Safety Act, S554.

After obtaining a copy of the Lautenberg amendment, the leadership of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association drafted a letter urging committee members to reject the amendment language. OOIDA also planned to issue a Call to Action urging truckers to call the committee.

“While we believe Senator Lautenberg has noble intentions, the amendment will not bring the safety benefits that he envisions and will actually create numerous problems,” OOIDA leadership stated.

“The language will require that small-business truckers and professional drivers not only have EOBRs installed in their vehicles, but also require ‘real time tracking or driver and vehicle location’ devices. The amendment will be costly and brings up considerable privacy concerns for America’s truckers.”

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has made several attempts in recent years to bring a rulemaking on EOBRs to fruition. The latest version in the works proposes to mandate EOBRs for motor carriers that fail two safety compliance reviews during a two-year period. This is known as the so-called “bad actor” rule.

The proposed rule also included incentives for motor carriers that voluntarily installed the devices – giving them relief from other regs such as the supporting documents portion of the hours of service regulations.

But Lautenberg wants legislation to take it further. He tipped his hand to that effect back in September during the confirmation hearing of Anne Ferro to become FMCSA administrator.

“Electronic On-Board Recorders, or EOBRs, should be used on every large truck to make sure we have accurate data on the amount of time an operator has been driving,” Lautenberg stated in his Sept. 23 testimony.

OOIDA Government Affairs Counsel Laura O’Neill says truckers should call the Senate committee prior to the bill markup on Thursday.

“Be persistent on this because Sen. Lautenberg is going for it here,” O’Neill told Land Line.

“There’s a rulemaking expected to come out in January to punish bad actors, but Lautenberg is trying to apply this to all truckers. This is some real Big Brother stuff.

“We want our members to urge the Commerce Committee to vote no.”

Click here to contact the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which is chaired by Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-WV. The ranking Republican is Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-TX.

Call committee Democrats at 202-224-0411 and committee Republicans at 202-224-1251.

– By David Tanner, staff writer