Electronic onboard recorder proposal goes to White House

The Department of Transportation on Thursday, Aug. 10, submitted for White House review a long-awaited regulatory document related to the use of onboard recorders (EOBRs) for hours-of-service compliance. Although the precise scope of the proposal is not known, sources said that it is a comprehensive package of incentives and, possibly, proposed requirements that would encourage wider adoption of EOBRs.

“It’s not a one-size-fits-all proposition,” said one source who spoke on condition of anonymity. What that means is unclear, however. For example, the proposal might approach fleets of different sizes differently. Or it might treat carriers differently depending on, for example, whether they haul hazardous materials or general freight.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking almost two years ago in response to a federal appeals court decision that criticized the agency for failing to seriously consider mandating EOBRs. In April, FMCSA said in an update of its regulatory agenda that it planned to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking by June of this year.

Because Congress has not mandated EOBRs, the White House Office of Management and Budget has no formal deadline for completing its review. But Bush administration officials would want to show substantial progress as the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia considers in the coming months a second round of litigation on the HOS revisions adopted last year.

Last year, the American Trucking Associations voiced conditional support for EOBRs, saying in a resolution adopted by its board that nine issues must be “satisfactory addressed” before the organization could support a federal regulation requiring the use of EOBRs for hours compliance.

To view the advance notice of rulemaking and comments submitted in response, visit http://dms.dot.gov/search and search Docket No. 18940.