FMCSA will have to 'justify' electronic logging mandate

By Jami Jones, Land Line managing editor | 12/10/2015

Unless you’re driving an older truck, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is set to mandate the use of electronic logs beginning in December 2017.

FMCSA released its final rule mandating the use of electronic logs on Thursday, Dec. 10. The regulation will officially print in the Federal Register on Dec. 16. That will start the clock on a two-year compliance deadline, making the devices mandatory beginning in December 2017.

With one notable exception of pre-2000 model year trucks, the mandate will apply to all trucks operating in interstate commerce and subject to the hours-of-service regulations. Logging devices and automatic onboard recorders that are compliant with the current regulations will be good for another four years following the December 2017 compliance deadline.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is in the process of reviewing the lengthy proposal that outlines technical specifications, motor carrier and driver responsibilities. Aside from the nuances in the final rule, fundamental concerns remain with the Association.

“From our perspective, if folks want to use technology … we have no issue with that. When the government mandates, it goes beyond where it needs to go,” OOIDA Vice President Todd Spencer told Land Line.

This is an issue that has been in play for many years. In fact, the agency attempted a limited mandate of electronic logging devices on motor carriers with a record of chronic noncompliance with the hours-of-service regulation. That mandate was challenged in court by OOIDA in August 2011 and eventually overturned.

“Electronic logs have been pushed by the agency for a long time, and there are economic interests that have been pushing for a long time. And they got buy in-from lawmakers. But that doesn’t really change the substance of where the rubber meets the road,” Spencer said. “Do electronic logging devices truly improve highway safety? Nothing has been presented to indicate that, in fact, that is true. In fact, we see the opposite.

“Onboard recorders are all about productivity and enhancing productivity, which basically puts those in constant conflict with the legitimate safety needs of drivers,” Spencer said.

While the Association is reviewing the regulation, Spencer said OOIDA will continue to protect drivers’ interest and to make FMCSA fully justify the mandate.

“Many of the issues that we have were raised previously and will be raised again. We’re talking about tracking drivers, the issues of harassment. … The agency will have to justify what it has done,” he said.

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