News Feature | June 10, 2014

ATA Comments On Electronic Logging Devices Proposed Rule

By Cheryl Knight, contributing writer

FMCSA On Track To Initiate E-Log Mandates

Since the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) first announced it would mandate the use of Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) by interstate commercial trucks and buses, IT solutions providers have anticipated a long-standing final ruling. But soon after the initial proposal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit vacated the FMCSA’s final rule.

At the heart of the debate over the use of the ELD mandate is the argument that the FMCSA did not address the potential for the new technology to be used to harass drivers. Nor did it address how to prevent such harassment. In response to the Court of Appeals, the FMCSA conducted a study on the issue, considered input from its Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, and analyzed public feedback during two public sessions and comments filed during the extended period after the 2011 law was proposed.

The FMCSA drafted a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, though an estimated date of when the rule would be final was not released by the FMCSA. The new proposal, released in March 2014, requires interstate commercial truck and bus companies to use ELDs in-vehicle to improve compliance regarding the number of hours a driver can work.

The American Trucking Association (ATA) commented on the new proposal saying, “ATA supports FMCSA’s proposal to mandate electronic logging devices. However, the agency must address some of the device design and performance specifications which are critical to the success of such a mandate.”  

Some of the provisions of the proposed legislation include the following elements:

  • A Driver’s Right To Privacy
    All records should stay with the motor carriers and drivers, with electronic laws only available to law enforcement and FMCSA personnel during roadside inspections, post-crash investigations, and roadside reviews.
  • Protect Drivers From Potential Harassment
    Provide ways for drivers to file harassment complaints against motor carrier owners. This complaint system further provides established procedures for filing and creates civil penalties, with a maximum fine of $11,000 for motor carriers that harass their drivers to where they are charged with an hours-of-service violation or continue operating a vehicle to the point where it compromises safety. Furthermore, drivers are ensured to have access to their own records and have the ability to mute ELDs to keep them from disrupting the driver’s sleep period.
  • Improve The Efficiency Of Enforcement Officers Who Review Logbooks
    The new proposal would also make it more difficult for a driver to cheat when submitting their logbooks to enforcement officials. This is accomplished by ensuring that the electronic logs are easily printed and reviewed, with any potential violations flagged for easier identification.

With the new legislation set to be approved soon, IT solution providers should familiarize themselves with the new provision so they are ready to offer solutions that comply with the mandate.