The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is clarifying the display requirements for automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs) that have electronic displays and is reminding motor carriers and law enforcement officials that the devices are not required to be able to print out a hard copy. In guidance to be published in the May 12 Federal Register, the agency also said that an enforcement official may request that additional information be provided following the roadside inspection.

FMCSA’s new guidance was prompted by reports that inspectors sometimes ask drivers to provide printouts from AOBRDs or to e-mail or fax records of duty status (RODS) to an enforcement official. The agency also has learned that on occasion inspection officials have issued citations to commercial motor vehicle drivers because their AOBRDs did not display certain information.

AOBRDs are not required to be capable of providing printed records at the roadside, although a driver may voluntarily provide it if his AOBRD has the capability. Printed information must meet the display requirements of Sec. 395.15.

Requirements for recording, but not displaying, information reflects the technology in place in the mid-1980s when the regulations were adopted, FMCSA said. Small electronic displays were rare and expensive, and they could display only limited information. So the regulations call for “time and sequence of duty status” rather than the Part 395.8 graph grid.

FMCSA is adding two new questions to Part 395 guidance adopted on April 4, 1997. The first states that AOBRDs with electronic displays must be capable of displaying:

  • Driver’s total hours of driving today
  • The total hours on duty today
  • Total miles driving today
  • Total hours on duty for the 7 consecutive day period, including today
  • Total hours on duty for the prior 8 consecutive day period, including the present day
  • The sequential changes in duty status and the times the changes occurred for each driver using the device

Part 395.15 requires the recording of additional info, but only the items listed above must be displayed because of the data display limitations of a minimally compliant AOBRD, FMCSA.

FMCSA’s guidance also confirms that the regulations don’t require AOBRDs to provide a hardcopy printouts for an enforcement official. “As long as the information made available for display on the AOBRD meets the requirements of § 395.15(i)(5), the driver and motor carrier are not required to provide additional RODS documentation to an enforcement official at the roadside,” FMCSA said. “However, an enforcement official may request that additional information be provided by email, fax, or similar means within 48 hours for follow-up after the conclusion of the roadside inspection.”

Carriers and law enforcement officials welcomed FMCSA’s clarification.

“ATA is grateful that FMCSA issued this guidance clarifying the long-standing AOBRD requirements,” Rob Abbott, vice president-safety policy for the American Trucking Assns., told Fleet Owner. “The confusion on the part of several enforcement officers had resulted in erroneous enforcement action and disparate enforcement from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.  ATA is hopeful that the guidance will resolve these problems.”

“We are glad FMCSA has finally put this guidance out,” Stephen Keppler, executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, told Fleet Owner. “We and others have been asking for this guidance for more than a year, and there have been inconsistent views on this particular issue. This will help to clarify the regulation so it can be more consistently enforced and the industry knows what is expected of them.”

FMCSA’s proposed rule on electronic logging devices reflects huge technology changes since the AOBRD rules were adopted in 1988, but they still would not require that devices print log information.