December 06, 2011
The Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee this week wrapped up work on recommendations to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on technical details of the pending electronic onboard recorder requirement.Details of the recommendations will be available later this week or next week, but in general the committee will provide counsel on 16 separate issues, ranging from a mechanism for showing the log to the inspecting officer to data security and certification of the recording devices.The committee, a panel of 19 officials from the industry, the enforcement community and labor and safety advocacy groups, has been working on the issue for months at the agency's request. The agency is not bound by the committee's recommendations, but is closely involved in the deliberations among the members.The EOBR rule is for the time being in legal limbo. FMCSA has decided it will not appeal a court decision vacating the rule scheduled to take effect next June. Instead, it will address the court's concerns about driver harassment in a final rule.In its ruling last August, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit vacated the rule and sent it back to FMCSA for review, saying it does not do enough to prevent harassment of drivers.The decision was in response to a petition by several independent drivers and the Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association, who were challenging the rule that will require habitual violators of the hours of service rules to install EOBRs.The rule would affect some 5,700 interstate carriers, the agency has estimated. It is the precursor to a much broader mandate that will cover practically all carriers, probably several years from now.