Five major transportation companies today announced their support for legislation introduced by U.S. Senators Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) that would require trucking companies engaged in interstate commerce to install electronic on-board recorders in all trucks.

The "Commercial Driver Compliance Improvement Act" will require commercial motor vehicles used in interstate commerce to install the electronic devices within three years after the passage of the legislation.

"No one wants to share the road with tired truckers, but we all expect our stores to be full of merchandise. Meeting these expectations is a constant balancing act for the trucking industry," Pryor said. "After several meetings with industry and Senate hearings on highway safety, I believe the most sensible and effective solution is to require the use of electronic on-board recorders. This measure will ensure the entire industry is putting safety and driver quality of life before profit."

"This bill will save truckers time, paper, and money, and it will make government leaner," said Alexander. "The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates that in paperwork savings alone, converting to electronic on-board records would save $60 million a year."

The companies announcing their endorsement of the bill are J.B. Hunt Transport Services, Knight Transportation, Maverick USA, Schneider National, and U.S. Xpress Enterprises.

The companies are forming an industry coalition called "The Alliance for Driver Safety & Security" to urge Congress to pass the legislation and to also advance other measures that can improve highway safety.

If passed, the legislation will require companies to install an electronic device that is engaged to the truck engine which will identify the driver operating the truck, record a driver‟s duty status, and is capable of monitoring the location and movement of the vehicle. The legislation calls for using existing technology and devices that are currently in the marketplace.

Donald Osterberg, senior vice president of safety for Schneider National in Green Bay, Wis., said that while the current federal hours-of-service rules are "science based, reasonable, and effective," the problem under the status quo is that there is a "lack of compliance with the rules" saying that "fatigue is underreported and thus underestimated as a causal factor in truck-involved crashes. Electronic logs take the non-compliance issues off the table."

Deborah Hersman, Chairman of the National Traffic Safety Board, noted that the NTSB has been advocating the use of onboard recorders for hours of service compliance for 30 years.

Washington Editor Oliver Patton is speaking with representatives of the trucking companies this afternoon; look for their comments on tomorrow, Sept. 30.