At the same time, Joan Claybrook, president of Public Citizen, termed the agency's proposal "a weak standard" for EOBRs.
The FMCSA on Thursday proposed that truck and bus companies with a history of serious hours of service violations be required to install electronic on-board recorders in all of their commercial vehicles for a minimum of two years.
The ATA said the proposed regulation outlines a sensible approach to the greater implementation of technology designed to improve safety and document driver compliance with work and rest rules.
FMCSA’s proposed rule contains three main components. It identifies the performance specifications for the new technology, outlines regulatory incentives to encourage the trucking industry to adopt EOBRs, and establishes criteria that would trigger a requirement for certain motor carriers to equip their trucks with EOBRs if they were found to have serious and continuing problems complying with mandatory driver work and rest rules.
“We are pleased that DOT has taken another solid step toward ensuring future gains in improved highway safety,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves. “We support this incentive-based approach to the use of electronic on-board recorders. Technology can play a significant role in enhancing road safety and help to ensure the reliability of commercial vehicle operation.”
In response to a new policy adopted by its membership, ATA has pushed for a pilot program that would determine the effectiveness of EOBRs in improving compliance and safety performance, while also addressing the industry’s diverse nature. ATA also believes that incentives would assist motor carriers in adopting the technology.
Meanwhile, Public Citizen's Claybrook said in a statement, "Instead of mandating on-board recorders in all commercial trucks with a fair, across-the-board standard, FMCSA today released a proposed rule that would require recorders only for trucking companies that have been caught significantly violating hours of service rules. We know that many more companies violate these rules because their drivers keep fake log books, which are so legendarily erroneous that they are known in the trade as 'comic books,' but they are not detected. Under the FMCSA rule, these scofflaws can continue to violate the law without consequences and put the public at risk."
If adopted, FMCSA estimates that within the first two years that the rule is enforced, about 930 carriers with 17,500 drivers would be required to use electronic on-board recorders. To expand use of the devices among the more than 650,000 motor carriers in the U.S., the incentives for voluntarily installation include using an examination of a random sample of drivers’ records of duty status as part of a company compliance review and partial relief from HOS supporting documents requirements
Additionally, the agency welcomes suggestions from the public for additional incentives.
The full Notice of Proposed Rulemaking will be published in the Federal Register on Jan. 18, 2007, and public comments will be accepted until April 18, 2007. To request a copy of the notice, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.