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Electronic truck records: why they're important

We last wrote about electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) in our April 12 post. In that post, we discussed the process for developing a mandatory federal rule. Many trucking companies are already starting to adopt electronic record-keeping voluntarily, without waiting for a federal rule.

The reason EOBRs are important is that many truck accidents in Texas and across the country are caused by fatigued driving. The hope is that EOBRs will help prevent these accidents by encouraging compliance with hours-of-service limits on how long truck drivers can be on the road without breaks.

Paper records are thought by many safety experts to be much easier to alter than electronic records. As a result, paper records are not as transparent and less able to provide the structure needed to keep drivers within the rules on driving limits.

Some trucking companies argue that using electronic tools to monitor drivers amounts to harassment. The key federal agency on truck safety is about to conduct a survey of drivers to assess this concern about harassment. The survey is also intended to provide an indication of how drivers view the role of EOBRs.

The survey will be conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA).

The harassment issue has already been an issue in legal challenges brought by the trucking industry against a mandatory federal rule on electronic recorders. Two years ago, a federal appeals court ruling struck down FMSCA’s proposed rule, citing concerns about truck driver harassment.

Congress responded to this decision last year with legislation known as Map-21. That legislation calls on FMCSA to consider the issue of truck harassment in developing a new EOBR rule. The survey that is about to begin is a means toward that end.

Source: "FMCSA Outlines Survey Plans for Electronic Onboard Recorders," Trucking Info, Oliver Patton, May 28, 2013

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