Agency takes steps on electronic logs, driver coercion

Updated Sep 18, 2013
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration still expects to publish a proposed electronic logging device mandate rule in November.The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration still expects to publish a proposed electronic logging device mandate rule in November.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has taken another step on electronic logging device (aka electronic onboard recorders) rulemaking and has made a separate proposal to protect drivers from pressure to work in violation of safety regulations.

The White House Office of Management and Budget received the FMCSA’s ELD Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Aug. 7. The agency forecasts the OMB will clear the notice by Nov. 6, allowing the FMCSA to publish the proposal Nov. 18 and accept public comment until Jan. 20.

Meanwhile, the Office of Transportation Secretary has had the NPRM on driver coercion since Aug. 28 and expects to send it to the OMB by Oct. 1.

The 2012 highway reauthorization act included the ELD mandate and directed the agency to address coercion. The FMCSA began referring to the devices as ELDs because of the language used in the law and dropped the traditional, but more generic term of electronic onboard recorders.

Last December, agency officials proposed to survey and interview drivers and carriers on ELDs and harassment. Feedback on that plan “would be considered during the conduct of the study.” It later published notice May 28 that this Information Collection Request would be used for research to support revisions to rulemaking regarding the devices.

The Owner-Operator Independent Driver Association and the American Trucking Associations submitted comments June 27. While both supported the general data gathering effort, OOIDA was more critical of the proposal and said many questions were irrelevant or unclear. But both organizations stated found questions on driver compensation inappropriate to the goal of the research.

FMCSA plans to gather 1,039 responses from surveying and interviewing drivers and carriers, which includes paying 510 drivers at truck stops $10 each for completing a survey. The 15-month ICR has a $460,000 budget.

The agency first embarked on electronic logging device proposals in 1994, but the statutory requirement regarding coercion took effect last October. That new law stipulates regulations must exit to  prevent carriers, shippers, receivers and transportation intermediaries from coercing drivers to work in violation of any safety regulation.

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“This rulemaking must be fast tracked because it affects any new FMCSA rulemaking,” the FMCSA wrote. “Future rulemakings would need to consider whether coercion of drivers is a concern. However, in rules where coercion would need to be considered, the Agency would cross reference its regulation on coercion.”

The FMCSA expects the OMB will clear the coercion plan by Dec. 31, and it can publish the NPRM by Jan. 9 and take public feedback through March 13.