ATA board conditionally supports EOBRs

The American Trucking Associations board of directors adopted policy language supporting the use of electronic onboard recorders to ensure hours-of-service compliance provided that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration addresses a number of issues related to efficiency and cost-effectiveness of EOBRs and launches a pilot project to determine their effectiveness in promoting safety and compliance.

FMCSA plans to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking on EOBRs next year.

“ATA is constantly seeking new solutions to improve highway safety for all Americans,” said ATA President Bill Graves. “As this issue is studied by FMCSA, we feel that the policy guidance offered by ATA represents a common-sense approach to a complicated issue.”

In February, two ATA committees — Safety Policy and Technology and Engineering — established working groups to develop proposed policy language related to EOBRs. The groups merged in March and over the next several months developed the policy adopted by the ATA board.

The ATA policy lists nine issues that must be “satisfactorily addressed” for ATA to support a federal regulation requiring the use of EOBRs for hours compliance. Those conditions are that:

  • There should be sound, consensus-based evidence that EOBR use leads to enhanced fleet safety performance by such means as accident rate reduction and improved compliance, therefore increasing the credibility of EOBR systems as a cost-effective technology for motor carriers.
  • EOBR systems should be based on the minimal, functional and performance specifications necessary to record and report hours-of-service compliance accurately and assure reliability and utility of operation.
  • Statutory protections should be afforded to motor carriers pertaining to the control, ownership and admissibility/discoverability of data generated and derived from EOBRs, and to assure the privacy rights of drivers.
  • Drivers shall be responsible for operating the EOBR in full compliance with all applicable regulations.
  • Any EOBR regulation must address the operational diversity of the trucking industry, continue existing exceptions to the record of duty status, and consider additional exemptions that balance compliance and the evolving industry diversity.
  • Motor carriers using compliant EOBRs should be relieved of the burden of retaining supporting documents for hours-of-service compliance and enforcement purposes.
  • Any EOBR mandate, if instituted, should be made simultaneously applicable to all vehicles of the affected population of motor carriers, and it also should avoid any implementation inequities identified and take measures to eliminate them.
  • Any EOBR regulation that takes an incentive-based approach should allow for reasonable and defensible flexibility in the hours-of-service rules for drivers and motor carriers.
  • Tax incentives should be pursued as a means to facilitate adoption of EOBR systems.