The final electronic on board recorders regulation, which the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration had been scheduled to publish by the end of 2008, may not make it into the rulebooks during the final days of the Bush administration.

Traffic World Online reported Friday that Federal Motor Carrier Safety administrator John Hill said he didn't know if the rule was going to be published in time or not, saying, "it doesn't look like we are making progress at this point."

In early December, during an address at an EOBR conference sponsored by the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, Hill said the final rule would go further than the original proposed rule, although he could by law not give any details.

Under the original proposal, a carrier would have to use recorders if it violates the hours rule 10 percent or more of the time, as determined in two compliance reviews within a two-year period. This would affect only a minute portion of the national fleet. The agency estimated that fewer than 1,000 of the estimated 650,000 carriers it regulates would be covered.

Of the final rule, Hill said at the conference, "It's still not as far as a lot of people would like me to go, but it's significantly more than what we had proposed."

Even if the final rule is not published before President Barack Obama takes over next week, the issue of EOBRs is hardly going to go away. Safety advocates will likely continue to push for mandatory EOBRs as they again challenge hours of service regulations, and the National Transportation Safety Board included mandatory recorders in its 2009 Federal Most Wanted List of safety improvements.