EOBR Mandate - Congress Passes Highway Bill
July 9th, 2012
On June 29, the U.S. Congress passed the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) highway bill. This bill includes an amendment that requires electronic driver logs to be used by all those drivers currently subject to regulation requiring paper logs. This action by Congress sets a timeline, scope, system requirements, and other considerations to achieve the mandate.
MAP-21 requires the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to issue a final rule for the mandate within one year – i.e., by July 2013. While FMCSA has already started this rulemaking, it appears that the schedule will need to be accelerated. There is also a requirement that the effective date of the mandate is within two years after issuance of the final rule – i.e., by July 2015. While a transition approach is not specified, it is expected that EOBRs already installed will be allowed to continue in use for a sunset period.
Key Areas of Performance Requirements
MAP-21 does provide a definition of electronic driver log system, and outlines some of the key performance requirements. These include:
- Accurate recording of hours of service (HOS);
- Location recording;
- Tamper resistance;
- Integral synchronization with Electronic Control Module (ECM) or other technology for sensing vehicle movement;
- Law enforcement accessibility during roadside inspections; and
- Standard user interface to aid vehicle operators and law enforcement officials.
These requirements are consistent with recommendations for EOBR technical requirements that were developed by the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee in 2011 and provided industry expert guidance for future EOBR rulemaking.
Security and Certification Requirements
MAP-21 also outlines key areas for EOBR security and certification, including:
- Standard security level per nationally-recognized standards organization;
- Security requirements to address:
- Unique vehicle operator identification
- Data access
- Drivers’ data transfer between motor vehicles
- Motor carrier’s data storage
- Data transfer and transportability for law enforcement officials; and
- Rulemaking to define certification criteria and process to ensure EOBR systems meet the performance and security requirements.
Other Considerations to be Addressed:
MAP-21 also directs FMCSA to consider a few other items in relation to use of electronic driver logs, specifically:
- HOS supporting documents – eliminate or reduce paper HOS supporting documents.
- Privacy and limited use of information – specifically limiting the use and retention of EOBR data for HOS compliance review by enforcement.
- Driver harassment – FMCSA must address mitigation of potential driver harassment using EOBR information.
Looking Ahead . . .
While the MAP-21 law with an EOBR mandate requirement is a done deal, getting to full implementation of the mandate may have some challenges. Some of the areas that may impact requirements and timeline for implementation of the mandate include:
- Litigation challenges;
- Federal funding limitations;
- Rulemaking complexity; and
- Very short implementation window.
However, implementation of the mandate within three years is doable considering the following:
- 500,000 compliant systems are already in use and they work very well.
- New requirements actually standardize current best practices.
- Many installed systems will simply need an over-the-air software upgrade.