Since the introduction of log books in 1938, the freight carriers of the US have been trying to gain productivity control over the nation’s truck drivers and now they have it. Cast in law.
The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a final rule December 11, 2015 improving roadway safety by requiring the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) across the commercial truck and bus industries.
“Since 1938, complex, on-duty/off-duty logs for truck and bus drivers were made with pencil and paper, virtually impossible to verify,” said US transportation secretary Anthony Foxx. “This automated technology not only brings logging records into the modern age, it also allows roadside safety inspectors to unmask violations of federal law that put lives at risk.”
According to the FMCSA, the use of electronic logging devices (ELD) will result in an annual net benefit of more than $1 billion – by reducing the amount of required paperwork. It will also increase the efficiency of roadside law enforcement personnel in reviewing driver records, the FMCSA said. It is also estimated the final rule would save 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries resulting from crashes involving large commercial motor vehicles on an annual basis.
The official rules are set to be published on December 11. It will take effect two years afterwards to permit industry conversion. It will also require Canadian and Mexican domiciled drivers to use the devices on US roads.
“This is a win for all motorists on our nation’s roadways,” said FMCSA acting administrator Scott Darling. “Employing technology to ensure that commercial drivers comply with federal hours-of-service rules will prevent crashes and save lives.”
With one notable exception of pre-2000 model year trucks, the mandate will apply to all trucks operating in interstate commerce and subject to the hours-of-service regulations. Logging devices and automatic onboard recorders that are compliant with the current regulations will be good for another four years following the December 2017 compliance deadline.
The four main elements of the ELD Final Rule include:
Requiring commercial truck and bus drivers who currently use paper log books to maintain hours-of-service records to adopt ELDs within two years. It is anticipated that approximately three million drivers will be impacted.
Strictly prohibiting commercial driver harassment. The Final Rule provides both procedural and technical provisions designed to protect commercial truck and bus drivers from harassment resulting from information generated by ELDs.
Setting technology specifications detailing performance and design requirements for ELDs so that manufacturers are able to produce compliant devices and systems – and purchasers are enabled to make informed decisions.
Establishing new hours-of-service supporting document (shipping documents, fuel purchase receipts, etc.) requirements that will result in additional paperwork reductions. In most cases, a motor carrier would not be required to retain supporting documents verifying on-duty driving time.
The FMCSA relied on input from its Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee when developing the final rule.
You can read a copy of the ELD Final Rule at: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/electronic-logging-devices-and-hours-service-supporting-documents.