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Electronic trucking logs, part 2: status of process for issuing mandatory rule

As we discussed in our previous post, the use of electronic trucking logs is increasing. This is occurring even though there is not yet a federal rule in place requiring truckers to use elogs. These logs are also known as black boxes (a term associated with airplanes) or electronic on-board recorders, a term usually abbreviated as EOBRs.

Regardless of the exact name, the trend toward using these devices is expected to continue. For one thing, under a law called Map-21 passed by Congress last year, federal safety regulators are required to issue an industry-wide rule mandating the use of electronic trucking logs in Texas and across the country. MAP-21 stands for Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is the lead federal agency on the issue. FMCSA is expected to reopen the rulemaking process for an EOBR rule in September.

At a meeting last month of a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives, trucking industry officials expressed their concerns about a mandatory elog rule that might be too rigid. There is wide agreement that electronic logs will make recordkeeping more accurate. This will make it easier to detect hours-of-service violations, in which truckers stay on the road longer than the rules allow.

Trucking industry groups argue that there should be a "fudge factor" allowed by the rules. Such a fudge factor, they say, would enable truckers who are nearly home to continue on the road, even if they have reached their hours-of-service limits.

Obviously that reasoning has flaws. After all, a fatigued trucker who has been on the road too long can still cause an accident, even if he or she is close to home.

Even without a mandatory rule in place, many trucking companies are proactively transitioning to electronic logs. Such logs can actually save truckers money because it takes less time to complete them than paper logs.

Source: "Feds address coercion, pressure on truckers to violate regs," Landline, David Tanner, 3-15-13

Please visit our truck accidents page.

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