A new federal rule requiring commercial truck and bus drivers to electronically record their driving hours goes into effect on Feb. 16, 2016. Most carriers will have two years to comply. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) electronic logging device (ELD) rule aims at reducing driver fatigue by making hours-of-service (HOS) recording automatic and difficult to manipulate.
Since 1938, drivers have been required to keep track of their hours of work and rest using paper logs, but the conventional methods make it easy to alter the logs or keep two different sets of books to conceal violations. Installing ELDs in vehicles will automate and streamline the recordkeeping process by continually monitoring and recording engine hours, miles driven, and the vehicle’s geographical location and movements. The devices will also be extremely difficult for drivers to tamper with.
In the words of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, the “automated technology 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.”
Safety regulators estimate that ELDs will compel drivers and carriers to follow HOS rules, saving about 26 lives and prevent approximately 562 injuries every year. The electronic records will also generate a net savings of about $1 billion through paperwork reductions and associated administrative costs. The ELD rule also provides technical and procedural provisions that will help keep electronically recorded data from being used to harass, threaten, or coerce drivers.
Once the rule takes effect in February, carriers will have two years to comply. Companies that have already installed automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) will have four years to make sure the devices meet the federal standards for ELDs or replace them with devices that do meet the requirements. Federal authorities expect the rule to affect some 3 million commercially licensed truck and bus drivers.
Exemptions will apply to certain drivers, such as tow truck drivers who record hours with a time card and trucks made before 2000. Commercial carriers operating from Mexico and Canada must also equip their vehicles with ELDs that meet the federal code before they can drive on U.S. highways.
Source: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
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