FMCSA Requires On-Board Recorders
As part of the new proposed Hours of Service (HOS), the FMCSA has mandated that all over-the-road interstate truckers will be required to have electronic on-board recorders (EOBR). The change would affect approximately 500,000 commercial carriers nation-wide. However, the rule will not affect short-haul interstate carriers that use time cards. Making EOBRs a requirement is an attempt to increase safety on the roads. The EOBRs will prevent more drivers from driving too many hours and, in turn, prevent more driver fatigue.
Department of Transportation Secretary (DOT) Ray LaHood said, “We cannot protect our roadways when commercial truck and bus companies exceed hours-of-service rules. 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."
The main purpose of the new rule is to crack down on HOS violations. EOBRs make it much easier for hours to be tracked, even across state lines. Carriers that are in violation of this EOBR requirement will face penalties of up to $11,000 for each offense, and failing to comply will also negatively impact a carrier's safety fitness rating and DOT operating authority.
The change was proposed on January 31, 2011 as a follow up to a rule made in 2010 that made larger carriers switch to EOBR’s because of their consistent HOS violations. The rule was that if a carrier had violations over 10% they were required to start using EOBR’s. In the rule the FMCSA made a note that a broader implementation of EOBR’s would soon follow. The January 31st proposal is the broader mandate that was alluded to by the FMCSA.
The proposal is another step that Cornell and the DOT have taken together on their e-Rulemaking Initiative (CeRI). The CeRI makes the federal regulatory process more accessible to the public through Regulation Room, which is an online public participation site where people can learn about and discuss proposed federal regulations. The public is also allowed to provide effective feedback to the DOT. This is another big step toward keeping President Obama's promise of allowing more citizen participation in the government.
Mandating that all interstate carriers use EOBR’s will definitely have an impact on the trucking industry. It will make HOS much easier to track and it will help prevent further violations. All of this is an attempt to make roads safer by decreasing the amount of fatigued driving done by commercial truckers. Whether or not cracking down on HOS violations will actually increase safety is still being debated. The general consensus is that it will definitely increase the amount of cash in the government’s pocket, but as for the safety I guess we’ll have to wait and see.