The federal government recently adopted a new law that will require all commercial trucking companies to install electronic driver logs, also known as electronic onboard recording devices (EOBRs), in each vehicle to keep track of driver behaviors and travel time. These devices are already available on the market, and some companies in the industry have already purchased these devices in an effort to comply with this new regulation.
Specifics of the Law
When this law formally goes into effect, approximately 500,000 carriers will be forced to comply by replacing their current logging system with an EOBR. According to the Notice of Proposed Rule Making recently released by the U.S. Department of Transportation, the law applies to all carriers that are currently required by law to keep track of their drivers’ Hours of Service through Records of Duty Status, or RODS. The law does not apply to carriers who document HOS using timecards.
If a carrier that is subject to this requirement fails to install the machinery and put it into service by the designated date, the carrier may owe a fine of up to $11,000 for each offense committed. Failing to comply with the law may also decrease the carrier’s ratings, as determined by the United States Department of Transportation.
In addition to mandating EOBRs for motor carriers who use RODS, the law also prescribes a systematic HOS monitoring process for all motor carriers, including those who use timecards. All carriers must be in compliance with this rule three years after its date of formal acceptance.
Those in favor of this new law highlight the benefits it has to offer for other travelers on the highway and for the carriers themselves. When all affected carriers are using EOBRs, drivers will be forced to comply with HOS requirements. They won’t be as tired, and fewer accidents will result. EOBRs will also allow carriers to keep better track of their drivers, which improves efficiency and customer service. Furthermore, carriers will be able to monitor their drivers’ other behaviors, such as speed, to ensure that drivers are operating the vehicles as safely as possible.
On the other side of the issue, however, some carriers are nervous about complying with this new law. Installing EOBRs on all trucks requires a significant investment. Carriers must also train their staff to use these devices, which requires an additional investment of time. If an EOBR suddenly malfunctions and requires repair, the carrier must replace the device or find a qualified technician, which can cause the company to fall behind in its deliveries.
Regardless of opinions within the industry, this regulation has been adopted, and motor carriers who are affected must comply with it. Because the compliance date is imminent, industry experts suggest that motor carriers who must comply with the law begin purchasing and installing their fleet tracking equipment as soon as possible. Waiting until the last minute may result in backorders, installation difficulties and training problems, which in turn lead to fines from the federal government.