White House clears supporting documents rule

The White House Office of Management and Budget on Sept. 14 completed its review of the final rule concerning supporting documents requirements for driver logs, clearing the measure for publication in the Federal Register within the next few days. OMB ordered changes in the draft final rule, but it is still unclear how extensive those changes will be as the details of neither the draft nor the final rule are yet known. Congress had ordered that new regulations on supporting documents be completed by Feb. 26, 1996.

Supporting documents are those items that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration expects to see in inspections and compliance reviews to help verify the accuracy of driver records of duty status. Federal safety regulations already require supporting documents, but the rule would clarify what supporting documents motor carriers must retain and to reaffirm that motor carriers must use supporting documents to verify drivers’ logs.

In its notice of proposed rulemaking, FMCSA proposed to adopt a regulatory definition of a supporting document to mean “any document that is generated or received by a motor carrier or commercial motor vehicle driver in the normal course of business that could be used, as produced or with additional identifying information, to verify the accuracy of a driver’s record of duty status.” FMCSA provided a long list of examples, such as global positioning system reports and numerous other types of electronic data.

The NPRM placed the cost of the rule over 10 years at $63.3 million, but the American Trucking Associations argued that the proposed document retention was overly broad and would cost carriers more than $5.2 billion.

Supporting documents could become less important if electronic onboard recorders (EOBRs) were mandated, but it’s not clear that FMCSA’s EOBR proposal, which is still under White House review, would mandate recorders. But even if EOBRs were to be mandatory, there is still a need for improved supporting documents, especially since Congress has ordered it, FMCSA Administrator John Hill says. In a Sept. 15 interview with CCJ, Hill pointed out that the rulemaking process is so long that it probably will take 18 months to two years to complete whatever EOBR rule ultimately is adopted.

For more information on the supporting documents rule, visit http://dms.dot.gov/search and search Docket No. 3706.