New FMCSA Regulation – Commercial Trucks Must Use Electronic OnBoard Recorders (EOBRs), Say Goodbye to Logbooks

New FMCSA Regulation – Commercial Trucks Must Use Electronic OnBoard Recorders (EOBRs), Say Goodbye to Logbooks

Hours of service (HOS) for trucks and buses will rely upon technology, not handwritten logbooks, in the future as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued a new proposed trucking industry regulaton on January 31, 2011. This will apply to any commercial truck or bus carrier crossing state lines, and the approximately 500,000 trucking companies that must conform are understandably unhappy with this new law.

Read the FMCSA press release, giving all the details of this new regulation, on the Department of Transportation website (here).

Last spring, FMCSA already required these gizmos to be used by trucking companies with a record of HOS logbook violations (that April 2010 rule becomes law in June 2012).

What do they do?

Electronic OnBoard Recorders automatically record the number of hours drivers spend operating the vehicle. Unless any sneaky truckers become very techno-savvy, the EOBRs omit the temptation to fudge on a HOS log.

Why should we care about this?

As DOT Head Ray LaHood explained in the news release, “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.”

What happens under the new law if someone doesn’t abide by it?

The federal government can assess a civil penalty of up to $11,000 for each offense, and the trucking company would also get penalized on its safety fitness rating and DOT operating authority.

Who’s complaining? 

Trucking concerns like the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, whose executive vice president was quoted in the Trucker News as viewing EOBRs ” …as nothing more than over-priced record keepers.”  He went on to criticize the action as another example of the federal government taking action in this recessionary economy that will result in damaging small business, since many small business owners are already running close to the red in their budgets and added costs like the gizmo may put them over the line, and out of business. 

What do they cost?

You can find a bargain online.  For example, JJKeller is offering the following:

The $6 E-Logs, powered by J. J. Keller’s Encompass, are priced per driver per month and require a one-time purchase of an onboard recorder for $199. Once data is captured, J. J. Keller Encompass audits all of a company’s driver logs, providing them with online reporting and compliance information that can immediately improve their operation.

Seems like a reasonable price to keep truck drivers (and those with whom they share the road) safe, right?

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