ATA supports EOBR mandate, has concerns over supporting documents

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Supporting Documents

The American Trucking Associations this week told the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration it supported the agency’s proposal to require motor carriers to install devices to record drivers’ hours of service electronically, but urged the agency to address important device design and performance requirements. Also, ATA raised a number of concerns about the supporting documents component of the proposals, specifically that the agency’s proposal did not meet requirements mandated by Congress.

“The agency must address some of the device design and performance specifications which are critical to the success of such a mandate,” ATA said in comments filed Monday, May 23. These issues include a more secure driver identification and authentication process, and improved standards to ensure the devices are not prone to tampering or fraud.

Electronic logging, ATA said, “will improve compliance with the hours-of-service regulations. This is important since FMCSA data has demonstrated a strong correlation between compliance with the current hours-of-service regulations and safe operations.” ATA has advocated for retention of the current hours-of-service regulations, the subject of a separate rulemaking, in part on the basis of this data. But ATA had “a number of serious concerns” about the supporting documents portion of FMCSA’s EOBR proposal.

“FMCSA’s proposal to require carriers retain a document (or documents collectively) to verify the beginning and end of each on-duty/not driving time period is unrealistic,” ATA said. “Available documents typically lack such precision. The agency’s suggestion that carriers certify that such documents don’t routinely exist would place those carriers at great risk.”

The agency had proposed that carriers make such certifications, but that they also be automatically subject to the maximum civil penalty if found to have made a false certification. “The agency should establish a finite list of documents that carriers must maintain and declare that those that do so will be deemed to be in compliance,” ATA told the agency.

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ATA also criticized FMCSA for failing to establish a list of documents that must be retained at a “reasonable cost” to motor carriers as required by Congress in the 1994 Hazardous Materials Transportation Authorization Act. ATA previously had sued the agency for failing repeatedly to meet the 17-year-old congressional mandate.