EOBR proposal and harassment survey advancing on separate paths

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 8/8/2013

A proposal that could someday lead to a mandate for electronic on-board recorders in commercial trucks is moving along two separate paths at the federal level. OOIDA is paying close attention to both, as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration attempts to address the issue of EOBRs and the harassment of drivers by motor carriers.

One part of the proposal, a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking, advanced to the White House Office of Management and Budget on Wednesday, Aug. 7.

According to the notice, the proposal attempts to establish performance standards for EOBRs, also known as electronic logging devices or ELDs; define a mandate to replace paper logs with ELDs; define requirements for hours-of-service supporting documents; and take measures that “ensure that the mandatory use of ELDs will not result in harassment of drivers by motor carriers and enforcement officials.”

The FMCSA hopes the proposal clears the Office of Management and Budget in November on its way to publication.

The second part of the proposal involves a survey of drivers being prepared by the FMCSA that specifically targets the issue of electronic logs and driver harassment.

OOIDA filed comments in advance of the survey, urging the FMCSA to ensure the questions got to the heart of the harassment issue. OOIDA has raised numerous concerns about the use of EOBRs by carriers to make drivers drive when they are tired or in need of a break, to disturb a driver who is taking a mandatory rest break, or to track a vehicle being used for personal conveyance.

The issue of driver harassment raised by OOIDA was all it took for the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals to rule against the FMCSA in a lawsuit and vacate an agency rule from 2010 that would have required electronic on-board recorders in the vehicles of motor carriers that demonstrated unsatisfactory safety and compliance ratings.

The FMCSA has been back at the drawing board ever since to deal with the court ruling and establish criteria for electronic logs.

The current highway bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century, or MAP-21, requires the FMCSA to advance another rule for electronic logs, but also to make sure the devices cannot be used to harass drivers.

An FMCSA spokesman outlined the agency’s intentions to take separate paths for the supplemental notice and the driver survey on harassment.
“At this juncture, the driver survey is on a separate track than the (supplemental notice),” spokesman Duane DeBruyne told Land Line. “When completed, however, the survey will be brought onto the same track to inform the rulemaking process.”

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