The United States (US) Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has adopted a final rule requiring the use of electronic logging devices (ELD) by commercial motor carriers, which includes some rendering company fleets. FMCSA estimates the new rule will annually save 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries resulting from crashes involving large commercial motor vehicles. The administration also predicts an annual net benefit of more than $1 billion, largely by reducing the amount of required industry paperwork.
An ELD automatically records driving time and monitors engine hours, vehicle movement, miles driven, and location information. The rule aims to strengthen commercial truck and bus drivers’ compliance with hours-of-service regulations to prevent fatigue. The regulation takes effect December 10, 2017, two years after the final rule was published, and includes four main elements:
• Requiring commercial truck and bus drivers who currently use paper log books to maintain hours-of-service records to adopt ELDs within two years. It is anticipated that approximately three million drivers will be impacted.
• Strictly prohibiting commercial driver harassment. The final rule provides both procedural and technical provisions designed to protect commercial truck and bus drivers from harassment resulting from information generated by ELDs. A separate FMCSA rulemaking further safeguards commercial drivers from being coerced to violate federal safety regulations and provides the agency with the authority to take enforcement actions not only against motor carriers, but also against shippers, receivers, and transportation intermediaries.
• Setting technology specifications detailing performance and design requirements for ELDs so that manufacturers are able to produce compliant devices and systems – and purchasers are enabled to make informed decisions.
• Establishing new hours-of-service supporting document (shipping documents, fuel purchase receipts, etc.) requirements that will result in additional paperwork reductions. In most cases, a motor carrier would not be required to retain supporting documents verifying on-duty driving time.
Federal safety regulations limit the number of hours commercial drivers can be on-duty and still drive as well as the number of hours spent driving. These limitations are designed to prevent truck and bus drivers from becoming fatigued while driving, and require that drivers take a work break and have a sufficient off-duty rest period before returning to on-duty status.
The final rule permits the use of smart phones and other wireless devices as ELDs, so long as they satisfy technical specifications, are certified, and are listed on an FMCSA website. Canadian- and Mexican-domiciled drivers will also be required to use ELDs when operating on US roadways. Motor carriers who have previously installed compliant automatic on-board recording devices may continue to use the devices for an additional two years beyond the compliance date.
The ELD final rule is available at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/electronic-logging-devices-and-hours-service-supporting-documents.
February 2016 RENDER | back