No matter if you call them electronic on-board recorders, electronic logging devices, or black boxes, a proposal to mandate their use is slowly winding its was through the bureaucratic hands of the federal government, putting it closer to publication.

A new U.S. Transportation Department report on significant rulemakings shows a proposed rulemaking moved from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to the Office of the DOT Secretary on June 7th. If it receives approval, the next stop is the White House Office of Management and Budget, which can either clear the plan for publication or sent it back to the FMCSA and DOT for changes.

It’s projected the proposal will be sent to OMB on August 6 with it being cleared by in early November, followed by publication later in the month and comments being taken on the plan being taken until January 20 of next year. The federal government often misses projected deadlines, though this latest was actually ahead of schedule in going from FMCSA to the DOT Secretary.

Details about the new regulation are not being released to the public, which is usual in rulemakings, except for four points it seeks to accomplish.

They are to: establish: (1) minimum performance standards for electronic logging devices (ELDs); (2) requirements for the mandatory use of the devices by drivers required to prepare handwritten records of duty status (RODS); (3) requirements concerning hour-of-service supporting documents; and (4) measures to ensure that the mandatory use of ELDs will not result in harassment of drivers by motor carriers and enforcement officials.

This rulemaking supplements the FMCSA’s February 1, 2011, notice of proposed rulemaking and addresses issues raised by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit Court in its 2011 decision vacating the agency’s April 5, 2010, final rule concerning ELDs. The rulemaking was successfully challenged by the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association by claiming FMCSA did not take into account possible harassment of drivers by the use of ELDs.

FMCSA says the requirements for ELDs would improve compliance with the hours-of-service rules and thereby decrease the risk of fatigue-related crashes attributable to non-compliance with the applicable hours-of-service requirements.

You can check the status of other significant U.S. DOT rulemakings on the department’s website.