The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) formally rolled out its long-awaited final rule mandating the use of electronic logging devices (ELD) by commercial motor vehicle operators to record ours of service (HOS) data.
“Since 1938, complex, on-duty/off-duty logs for truck and bus drivers were made with pencil and paper, virtually impossible to verify,” noted U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a statement. “This automated technology [ELDs] not only brings logging records into the modern age, it also allows roadside safety inspectors to unmask violations of federal law that put lives at risk.”
FMCSA said its ELD mandate will result in an annual net benefit of more than $1 billion – largely by reducing paperwork – and will also increase the efficiency of roadside law enforcement personnel in reviewing the driver records.
The agency added that, on an annual average basis, use of ELDs should help save 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries resulting from crashes involving large commercial motor vehicles.
FMCSA noted several key elements and impacts from its ELD final rule:
- It establishes a two-year compliance window for commercial truck and bus drivers to adopt ELDs.
- The agency anticipates that approximately three million commercial vehicle drivers will be impacted by the ELD mandate.
- The ELD rule strictly prohibits driver harassment by providing both procedural and technical provisions to prevent harassment resulting from ELD-generated information.
- A separate FMCSA rulemaking further safeguards drivers from being coerced to violate HOS regulations, providing the agency with the authority to take enforcement actions not only against motor carriers, but also against shippers, receivers, and transportation intermediaries.
- The new rule establishes technology specifications detailing performance and design requirements for ELDs so that manufacturers are able to produce compliant devices and systems.
- New HOS supporting document rules within the ELD mandate will help reduce paperwork needs, such as the retention of shipping documents, fuel purchase receipts, etc. In most cases, a motor carrier using ELDs will not be required to retain supporting documents verifying on-duty driving time, FMCSA said.
- The ELD Final Rule permits the use of smart phones and other wireless devices as ELDs, so long as they satisfy technical specifications and are certified.
- Canadian- and Mexican-domiciled drivers will also be required to use ELDs when operating on U.S. roadways.
- Motor carriers that have previously installed compliant automatic on-board recording devices may continue to use the devices for an additional two years beyond the compliance date.