WASHINGTON - The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) on Jan. 31 issued a regulatory proposal that would require interstate commercial truck and bus companies to install electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) to monitor their drivers' hours-of-service (HOS) compliance.
The proposed rule would also relieve interstate motor carriers from retaining certain HOS supporting documents, such as delivery and toll receipts, which are currently used to verify the total number of hours drivers spend operating the vehicle. This part of the proposal fulfills an order of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia requiring FMCSA to publish a notice of proposed rulemaking regarding supporting documents by January 31, 2011, according to the DOT.
"We cannot protect our roadways when commercial truck and bus companies exceed hours-of-service rules," said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "This proposal would make our roads safer by ensuring that carriers traveling across state lines are using EOBRs to track the hours their drivers spend behind the wheel."
EOBRs are devices attached to commercial vehicles that automatically record the number of hours drivers spend operating the vehicle. Several carriers, including Schneider National, Maverick USA, J.B. Hunt, Knight Transportation and U.S. Express Enterprise, have already installed EOBR technology on their fleets. Approximately 500,000 carriers would be affected by the proposed rule.
Under the proposal, interstate carriers that currently use "records of duty" (RODS) logbooks to document drivers' HOS would be required to use EOBRs. Short-haul interstate carriers that use timecards to document HOS would not be required to use EOBRs.
Carriers that violate this EOBR requirement would face civil penalties of up to $11,000 for each offense. Noncompliance would also negatively impact a carrier's safety fitness rating and DOT operating authority.
In April 2010, FMCSA issued a final rule that mandates EOBRs for interstate carriers with serious patterns of HOS violations.
"This proposal is an important step in our efforts to raise the safety bar for commercial carriers and drivers," said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. "We believe broader use of EOBRs would give carriers and drivers an effective tool to strengthen their HOS compliance."
The comment period begins once the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register. For the proposal and information about how to submit comments, click here.