DOT Issues On-Board Recorder Rule for Certain Commercial Vehicles

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently issued a rule that will require interstate commercial truck and bus companies with serious patterns of hours-of-service (HOS) violations to install electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) in all their vehicles. Nearly 5,700 interstate carriers will use EOBRs after the final rule’s first year of implementation, DOT noted.

“We are committed to cracking down on carriers and drivers who put people on our roads and highways at risk,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “This rule gives us another tool to enforce hours of service restrictions on drivers who attempt to get around the rules.”

“Safety is our highest priority,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro. “In addition to requiring EOBRs for carriers that have already demonstrated a pattern of hours-of-service violations, we will initiate a rulemaking later this year that considers an EOBR mandate for a broader population of commercial motor carriers.”

Electronic on-board recorders are devices attached to commercial vehicles that automatically record the number of hours drivers spend operating the vehicle. Driving hours are regulated by federal HOS rules, which are designed to prevent commercial vehicle-related crashes and fatalities by prescribing on-duty and rest periods for drivers.

Under the EOBR final rule, carriers found with 10 percent or more HOS violations during a compliance review will be required to install EOBRs in all their vehicles for a minimum of two years. The rule also provides new technical performance standards for EOBRs installed in commercial motor vehicles, including requirements for recording the date, time, and location of a driver’s duty status.

Additionally, carriers that voluntarily adopt EOBRs will receive relief from some of FMCSA’s requirements to retain HOS supporting documents, such as toll receipts used to check the accuracy of driver logbooks.

The rule will go into effect on June 1, 2012, to ensure EOBR manufacturers have sufficient time to meet the rule’s performance standards and to manufacture products to meet industry demand.

The Electronic On-Board Recorders for Hours-of-Service Compliance rule is on display at the Office of the Federal Register’s Web site, www.gpoaccess.gov.

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