Public comments are due by Thursday on a proposal by the FMCSA that could lead to an electronic logging mandate for truck and bus drivers.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking establishes performance and design standards for e-logs, outlines requirements for mandatory use in commercial vehicles, and addresses concerns about the devices being used as a tool to harass drivers.
FMCSA issued the supplemental notice to address concerns raised in 2011 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. In a ruling that favored OOIDA, the court forced the FMCSA to vacate its initial rule on electronic logs and make sure that any future rule prohibits carriers, shippers, dispatchers and brokers from using the devices to harass drivers.
OOIDA is also challenging the FMCSA’s assertion that an industrywide mandate for electronic logging devices would make the roads safer.
In May, the FMCSA published results of a Virginia Tech study of electronic logs that evaluates the estimated safety benefits of ELDs, which are also referred to as electronic onboard recorders, e-logs and electronic hours-of-service recorders.
The study claims that the use of e-logs increases driver compliance with hours-of-service rules and therefore reduces driver fatigue and fatigue-related crashes.
OOIDA calls the research flawed, saying it does not attempt to identify or break out the types of crashes that e-logs would supposedly prevent.
The FMCSA admits in its own preamble that its study is “skewed” to favor large carriers.
As of Monday afternoon, the docket for the supplemental notice contained more than 1,450 comments.
Many truckers are saying that an ELD mandate would take away drivers’ discretion on rest breaks, parking and fatigue levels by placing more minute-by-minute control in the hands of a shipper, dispatcher or carrier’s back office.
“ELDs do not make roads safer! In fact it’s just the opposite,” OOIDA Life Member Irvin Zimmerman stated in comments. “I see trucks with ELDs and speed limiters speeding through work zones racing with the clock … I am referring to company trucks owned and operated by the very same companies that are endorsing the ELDs and limiters.”
Others – small-business truckers and owner-operators – cite the cost of purchasing, installing and maintaining e-logs while pointing out that they’d still be required to keep a paper trail as a backup to the device.
“It will be very hard for someone like my husband who owns his own company to get the ELD, commenter Sonja Price. “It is a very costly proposition for him. If the rule is passed, it may very well make him leave the trucking industry.”
OOIDA is urging truckers to submit comments by Thursday’s deadline. The online docket at regulations.gov is open until midnight.
To go directly to the docket, click here, or here, and refer to Docket No. FMCSA-2010-0167.
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