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Incentives insufficient on EOBRs, ATA says

Although the American Trucking Associations generally supports the approach taken in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s proposal on electronic onboard recorders (EOBRs), “the agency must make important changes to the proposed rule to make it effective and promote use of EOBRs,” the trucking group said in comments on the proposal.

Under the notice of proposed rulemaking, FMCSA offers incentives to drive voluntary adoption of EOBRs and would mandate the devices only on carriers that display a pattern of noncompliance with the hours-of-service regulations.

“The consensus of ATA’s membership is that, under this proposal, motor carriers will not be incentivized enough to voluntarily adopt EOBRs,” ATA said in its comments. “One overriding reason is that there continues to be a lack of a nexus between EOBR use and improved safety performance – as distinguished from improved compliance.”

ATA said that before FMCSA issues a final rule, it needs to:

  • Incorporate research recommendations regarding safety technology deployment;
  • Review in depth ATA’s EOBR policy, which serves as a roadmap to get to an EOBR mandate as well as resolving issues pertaining to voluntary acceptance of EOBRs;
  • Provide more meaningful incentives to encourage voluntary adoption of EOBRs;
  • Complete the proposed performance specifications, and integrate recommendations of ATA and its Technology and Maintenance Council (TMC) working groups;
  • Conduct a pilot program to determine the functionality and benefits of EOBR usage; and
  • Target more effectively the use of the remedial directive to gain compliance.
  • “The bottom line is that ATA foresees a future state where certain trucking operations are required to use EOBRs for hours-of-service recordkeeping,” ATA said. “However, we believe the agency must assure that the regulatory groundwork for this technology is completed properly.” For example, ATA proposed that FMCSA conduct a supplemental rulemaking primarily focused on firmly setting the EOBR performance specifications.

    Most of the comments filed by organized groups repeated longheld and entrenched positions. Public Citizen and the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, for example, criticized FMCSA’s proposal for failing to mandate EOBRs on the entire trucking industry. The Teamsters and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association strongly oppose mandatory EOBRs.

    “If [EOBRs] could prevent the manipulation of a driver’s work schedule and respect drivers’ privacy rights, OOIDA would consider supporting them,” the group said. “But for now, OOIDA’s opposition to the proposed EOBRs remains unchanged.” Few of the problems OOIDA previously identified have been addressed, and the proposal does not try to define the public policy need for mandatory EOBRs. “EOBRs are no more a reliable or accurate record of a driver’s compliance with the hours-of-service rules than paper logs.”

    For links to the EOBR proposal and to all the comments filed regarding it, go to http://dms.dot.gov/search and search Docket No. 18940.

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