Since 1997 the agency has taken a hands-off approach to using data from advanced technologies such as GPS as an enforcement tool "in order to promote and encourage use of these new technologies by the industry."
Now that goal has been achieved, the agency said. And field staff have begun to see situations in which the hands-off policy is harming enforcement, said FMCSA Administrator John Hill. Enforcement officials were reporting that they could see obvious violators of the hours rules but could not get to their GPS records to prove it, Hill said.
"I can't look at people in the face who are not compliant with HOS and say, 'I've got this old policy that says we won't use GPS records,'" he said. "I just think it's ludicrous. If you've got GPS records that show you're getting around the HOS rules, we're going to use those as part of our enforcement process."
Hill said he could not quantify how many GPS users are dodging the hours rules. "But I will tell you that this is something I hear routinely from the field. I don't think it's anecdotal. It happens more than you would imagine."
The policy change will go into effect Dec. 19.