EOBR’s (Electric On Board Recorder’s) have been the subject of earlier posts and on the whole are a step forward for safety. EOBR’s can be very beneficial in ensuring tired truckers are not allowed on the roads in violation of the law. Unfortunately there are ways to "fix" the EOBR’s to allow violations of the FMCSR Hours of Service (HOS) regulations. Knowing how to prove an EOBR was "fixed" in order to allow a driver to stay on the road longer than the HOS regulations allows is an important reason to hire an experienced tractor trailer attorney.

This story appears in the Aug. 20th print edition of Transportation Topics:

HILTON HEAD, S.C. — Four months after the public comment period for the proposed electronic onboard recorder rule closed, a Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration official said those comments were still being reviewed and no final rule was imminent.

At the same time, a trucking official suggested the uncertainty regarding hours-of-service rules for drivers could delay any final EOBR rule.

“No final decision has been made about the outcome of the rulemaking,” Debbie Freund, senior transportation specialist for FMCSA, said here Aug. 14 during a presentation at the 2007 PeopleNet user conference.

“The [notice of proposed rulemaking] is a proposal based on the best information available at the time it was developed,” Freund said.

Announced in January, the rule would mandate EOBRs for the worst violators of its hours-of-service rules and provide incentives in the form of relaxed record keeping requirements for carriers who adopt them voluntarily (1-15, p. 1).

The public comment period closed April 18.

When the rule was published, officials estimated it would take four years between the time a final rule was published and full implementation.

But Dave Potts, director of safety and operations for American Trucking Associations, said here that last month’s decision by a federal appeals-peals court to overturn the HOS rule (7-30, p. 1) could push that potential timetable back.

He said any change, through a new FMCSA rule or other methods, in on-duty time, driving hours, the 34-hour restart or sleeper-berth time could result in the need for new EOBR performance specifications, updates to vendors’ EOBR software programs and additional time to train drivers, management and law enforcement.

Freund declined to discuss the hours-of-service case, other than to say the “agency was still reviewing the court’s decision,” or the case’s potential effect on the EOBR proposal.

She did say, however, that in response to the comments on the EOBR proposal, the agency may conduct additional technology assessments to ensure that data obtained from EOBRs not integrally synchronized with the engine or vehicle are accurate.

She added that other EOBR subjects drawing the agency’s attention, based on comments it received, included data security and integrity, interoperability and manufacturer self-certification.

Still, Freund said the agency believes its proposed rule provides the greatest safety benefit because the small number of carriers required to use EOBRs have a much higher crash rate than all other carriers.

Increasing the level of compliance with HOS rules would decrease the incidence of fatigue-related crashes, she said.

Potts, meanwhile, reiterated that ATA generally supports FMCSA’s proposed EOBR rule but said the federation believes more definitive performance specifications were needed and a pilot program should be undertaken to obtain and analyze “real-world data” before any final rule is implemented.

He also said a larger number of the worst HOS violators — 10% or more — should be required to use EOBRs.

Gerry Krolikowski, chairman of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s driver-traffic enforcement committee, gave a similar assessment of the proposed EOBR rule.

He said that, while the law enforcement community is in favor of electronic onboard recorders, CVSA wants to be sure the devices are tamper-resistant and standardized for easy accessibility.

Krolikowski is a lieutenant with the Nebraska State Patrol.