The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced on March 13 a new proposal on electronic logging devices that would mandate ELDs for drivers currently required to prepare hours-of-service records of duty status and establish the minimum performance and design standards. The White House Office of Management and Budget cleared the proposal on March 11 after a review of about seven months.

The agency proposed to require use of ELDs within two years of a final rule in keeping with a requirement in the 2012 highway legislation known as MAP-21. However, carriers already requiring drivers to use devices meeting the current automatic onboard recording device (AOBRD) standard would be able to continue using those devices for another two years.

The supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM), which was sent to the Federal Register on March 12, also would establish requirements concerning HOS supporting documents and address concerns about harassment resulting from the mandatory use of ELDs. Those two issues were subjects of litigation, and the harassment issue ultimately scuttled FMCSA’s prior electronic log rule, which was adopted in April 2010.

In its announcement, FMCSA touted the proposal as a major relief from paperwork burdens, saying the rule would save the industry nearly $1.64 billion a year in paperwork. The agency also estimates nearly $400 million in annualized safety benefits from preventing about 20 fatalities and 434 injuries each year. FMCSA estimates annualized costs at about $1.58 billion, yielding more than $450 million in annualized net benefits.

Addressing the harassment issue, FMCSA proposes to bar explicitly such actions by motor carriers and to establish a procedure for filing a harassment complaint. A carrier would be subject to a civil penalty of up to $11,000 if it engages in harassment of a driver that leads to an hours-of-service violation or the driver operating a vehicle when they are so fatigued or ill it compromises safety. The agency also proposes that drivers continue to have access to their own records and that ELDs include a mute function to protect against disruptions during sleeper berth periods.

FMCSA said its proposal also addresses concerns within the law enforcement community by making it more difficult for a driver to cheat when submitting his records of duty status and by ensuring the electronic logs can be displayed and reviewed electronically or printed with potential violations flagged.

“By implementing electronic logging devices we will advance our mission to increase safety and prevent fatigued drivers from getting behind the wheel,” said FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro. “With broad support from safety advocates, carriers and members of Congress, we are committed to achieving this important step in the commercial bus and truck industries.”