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Thursday, February 17, 2011

FMCSA Proposes Use of Electronic Recorders

In a welcome move by the FMCSA, they have proposed a new rule that would require commercial truck and bus companies to install electronic on-board records (EOBRs) to monitor the number of hours a driver is in service.  Currently many drivers use a written log book to record the time they are driving, the time they are resting, unloading, etc.   These logbooks are often inaccurate and can be easily modified by the driver to show that he is in compliance even when he isn't. 

Under the new rule, those logbook entries would be more uniform and accurate, as the electronic data would show when the truck was moving and when it was at rest.  Drivers who drive longer then the hour of service regulations allow will no longer be able to easily modify their logbooks to cover up their hours of service violations.  This will likely lead to fewer hours of service violations, less fatigued drivers, and fewer wrecks.

As might be anticipated, many trucking companies and associations are complaining and the typical complaint is that new requirements will increase costs and unduly burden small operators.  I was skeptical of this complaint and did some research on my own.  I contacted 3 companies that offer EOBR equipment to trucking companies and solo drivers.  The most expensive unit was $3,000 from one company.  The other 2 companies offered the units for free if you signed a 2 or 3 year contract for a $35 to $40 monthly service fee that included software updates, real time online reports of your driving history and a number of other reports to meet state specific reporting requirements.  

Currently a trucker would pay between $3 and $10 a month for the physical logbooks, so this does increase their costs by $25-$35 per month.  However, it also seems to make reporting easier, as reports can be generated automatically. 
Once the public comment period opens up, I will post a link here so that anyone wishing to comment on the new regulation may do so.  I would encourage everyone to support this regulation and post a comment indicating that support. 


  1. I see how beneficial this could be. I think it's a great rule. However, if I were a truck driver, I am not sure I would be as open to this change. Most people on the road would rather feel like their own boss. (Free spirits on the open road.) I would imagine they'll have some trouble switching over.

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