A proposed rule that would require truck and bus drivers to replace paper logbooks with electronic devices is “on the street” and available for review online, though the official comment period hasn't begun yet, according to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administrator Anne S. Ferro.
The rule was posted on the FMCSA web site on March 13, and can be downloaded as a PDF document here. The rule should be published in the Federal Register – which will start the clock ticking on a 60-day comment period – later this week, Ferro said today.
“I hope the comments are very robust,” the top U.S. truck safety official said at the 40th annual Transportation and Logistics Council conference in Nashville, Tenn.
A robust dialogue is guaranteed; the proposed mandate has been controversial since Day One. An earlier final rule mandating electronic onboard recorders was struck down by a federal appeals court.
Ferro said the new proposal, required by Congress in the last highway funding law, addresses issues cited by the court when it threw out the previous regulation, namely whether employers could use data from electronic logging devices to harass drivers. The FMCSA proposal would establish a maximum civil penalty of $11,000 for driver harassment based on data from an electronic logging device, and set up a complaint process for truckers.
The rulemaking also would establish minimum performance and design standards for ELDs. Many trucking companies already have installed ELDs or onboard computers, Ferro told shippers, carriers, brokers and transportation attorneys at the T&LC conference.
“Better than 25 percent of the [trucking] industry has transitioned to electronic logs over the past few years for a whole lot of reasons, not the least of which was the recognition that investment in electronic logging really did improve their compliance with hours of service and reduced HOS violations,” Ferro said.
Those carriers have seen evidence of that improvement in their behavioral category safety scores through the Compliance, Accountability, Safety or CSA program, she said.