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Friday, April 16, 2021

Electronic On-Board Recorders in Interstate Trucking Industry, Will Canada Follow?

US Government Issues Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to Broaden the Mandate for

TORONTO – On the heels of its recent release of proposed changes to the US federal hours of service standard for drivers of heavy trucks, the US Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today released its long-awaited notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) to monitor their drivers’ compliance with federal hours of service regulations. And, no one should be surprised that the NPRM proposes a broader EOBR mandate. There have been several indications that a broader mandate was coming and that’s exactly what was announced today. (In April 2010, FMCSA issued a notice of final rule that mandated EOBRs for interstate carriers with serious hours of service compliance issues. Many groups and some in the industry in the US said at the time that the rule, which was developed by the previous administration, was not broad enough.)

Under today’s NPRM, FMCSA proposes to amend the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) to require all motor carriers (including Canadian carriers) currently required to maintain Records of Duty Status (logbooks) for hours of service record keeping to use EOBRs to monitor their drivers’ compliance with the hours of service regulations.  FMCSA estimates that about half a million motor carriers will be affected by the NPRM.

In addition, the NPRM also proposes that carriers using EOBRs be exempt from having to retain supporting documentation such as delivery and toll receipts as is the case under the rules governing the paper log system.

In Canada, the federation representing the provincial trucking associations, the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), has for several years supported the introduction of a broad EOBR mandate — subject to certain conditions – in order to create a level playing field in terms of compliance.  A government working group reporting to the Council of Deputy Ministers Responsible for Transportation and Highway Safety has been established and is charged with developing Canada’s EOBR rules. David Bradley, CEO of CTA, says, “with the release of the NPRM, work will clearly have to be accelerated in Canada.”

“There are many important issues yet to be resolved, not the least of which is the all-important enforcement policies that will accompany an EOBR rule in the US and in Canada. If we are going to build a new sidewalk, we need to build it where people are going to walk.”

The FMCSA plans to provide carriers with three years to invest in and install EOBRs from the date the final rule comes into force.