FMCSA issues guidance on duplicate RODS

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration today, June 10, announced that the current requirement for interstate commercial motor vehicle drivers to prepare, in duplicate, a record of duty status for each 24-hour period may be satisfied through the preparation of an original handwritten record and subsequent electronic submission to the motor carrier of a scanned image of the original record.

The driver would retain the original while the carrier maintains the electronic scanned electronic image along with any supporting documents. The guidance, effective immediately, is applicable to all interstate drivers of CMVs subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs).

FMCSA said it received an exemption application from a motor carrier requesting relief from the requirement to prepare RODS in duplicate. The motor carrier explained that it plans to implement a new approach for receiving and processing RODS, whereby its drivers would complete their RODS and then electronically scan them at one of the carrier’s terminals or at a truckstop that offers the scanning service. The image then would be transmitted electronically to the motor carrier while the driver retains the original paper RODS.

Upon reviewing the carrier’s application for an exemption, FMCSA determined that an exemption is not necessary. The agency admitted that 49 CFR 395.8(a)(1) and 395.8(i) could be construed as limiting the processing of RODS between drivers and carriers to the submission of the original paper documents either in person or via mail, thereby necessitating the preparation of the RODS in duplicate. However, FMCSA says it has opted for a more pragmatic application of the rules.

Because existing regulations concerning the preservation of records (49 CFR 390.31) allow motor carriers to store electronically a scanned image of the original RODS submitted by drivers and essentially dispose of the original paper document, there is no discernible safety benefit to disallowing the driver’s submission of a scanned image of the RODS to the carrier, and there is no readily apparent reason that the location at which the original RODS is scanned into an image for subsequent electronic storage and retrieval should matter for the purposes of compliance with the recordkeeping requirements. Furthermore, there is no apparent reason to limit the means of submitting the information to the carrier, the agency said, determining that electronic submission is an efficient and reasonable alternative to mailing the document to the carrier or delivering it in person.

FMCSA also specified that drivers who electronically scan a copy of their original RODS for subsequent submission to the motor carrier are not required to prepare the RODS in duplicate. The agency said that although 49 CFR 395.8(a)(1) states that “Every driver who operates a commercial motor vehicle [in interstate commerce] shall record his/her duty status, in duplicate, for each 24-hour period,” the intent of the requirement may be fulfilled through the electronic submission of a scanned image of the original handwritten RODS to the regular employing motor carrier within 13 days following the completion of the form, while the driver retains the original records for the current day and the previous seven consecutive days.

FMCSA said that because existing regulations concerning the preservation of records (49 CFR 390.31) allow motor carriers to store electronically a scanned image of the original handwritten RODS submitted by drivers and essentially dispose of the original paper document, there is no adverse impact on the enforcement of the HOS regulations, and subsequently no compromise on the application of the safety requirement by allowing the driver to submit a scanned image of the original signed RODS to the regular employing motor carrier within 13 days of the completion of the record.

FMCSA reemphasized that motor carriers must maintain the scanned image of the signed RODS and all supporting documents for each driver for a period of six months from the date of receipt (49 CFR 395.8(k)).