Electronic logging notice on the move at DOT

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 6/17/2013

A proposal that calls for truckers to log their hours electronically instead of by paper logs is on the move, at least internally within the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking advanced to the DOT’s Office of the Secretary of Transportation on June 7.

The agency filed the supplemental notice in April 2011 to address issues raised by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit Court after the court tossed a previous rulemaking aimed at requiring electronic logs for carriers with unsatisfactory safety or compliance ratings.

OOIDA challenged that initial rule on the grounds that electronic on-board recorders, which are now being referred to as electronic logging devices or ELDs by the agency, on three fronts. One was that the devices can be used by carriers, brokers and dispatchers to harass drivers or pressure them to drive when they have available time on their work clocks but might be tired or in need of a break.

The Seventh Circuit Court ruled in favor of OOIDA in April 2010 on the harassment issue, sending the FMCSA back to the drawing board.

The current highway funding and policy law known as MAP-21, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, called for an industry-wide mandate on electronic logs.

Details of the agency’s supplementary notice have remained internal at the U.S. DOT and have not been made public outside of a four-point plan for what a rule would accomplish.

First, the FMCSA must establish a minimum performance standard for an electronic logging device – what a device can do and what it can’t do, etc.

Second, the agency must establish requirements for drivers to use the devices.

Third, the agency must determine requirements for documents that drivers are used to keeping in their trucks to support hours-of-service compliance.

Fourth, the agency must, in its own words stemming from the court challenge, “ensure that the mandatory use of ELDs will not result in harassment of drivers by motor carriers and enforcement officials.”

MAP-21 initially called for the supplementary part of the rule to be published in the Federal Register in February 2013, but that benchmark has been pushed back to November 2013. Once published, the agency must then conduct a comment period on the supplementary information before incorporating it into a future rule on electronic logs.

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