On Monday, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) issued a regulatory proposal that would require interstate commercial truck and bus companies to install electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) to monitor their drivers' hours-of-service (HOS) compliance.

The proposed rule also would relieve interstate motor carriers from retaining certain HOS supporting documents, such as delivery and toll receipts, which are currently used to verify the total number of hours drivers spend operating the vehicle.

This part of the proposal fulfills an order of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, requiring FMCSA to publish a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding supporting documents by Jan. 31, 2011.

Several carriers, including Schneider National, Maverick USA, J.B. Hunt, Knight Transportation and U.S. Express Enterprise, have already installed EOBR technology on their fleets. Approximately 500,000 carriers would be affected by the proposed rule.

Under the proposal, interstate carriers that currently use Records of Duty (RODS) logbooks to document drivers' HOS would be required to use EOBRs. Short-haul interstate carriers that use timecards to document HOS would not be required to use EOBRs.

Carriers that violate this EOBR requirement would face civil penalties of up to $11,000 for each offense. Non-compliance would also negatively impact a carrier's safety fitness rating and DOT operating authority. In April 2010, FMCSA issued a final rule that mandates EOBRs for interstate carriers with serious patterns of HOS violations.

This proposed rule also continues the U.S. DOT's partnership with Cornell on the e-Rulemaking Initiative, an important step toward keeping President Obama's promise of opening government to more effective citizen participation.

The Cornell e-Rulemaking Initiative makes the federal regulatory process more accessible to the public through Regulation Room, an online public participation environment where people can learn about and discuss proposed federal regulations and provide effective feedback to the U.S. DOT.

Citizens can find more information on the Cornell online effort and provide comments on the proposed rule at regulationroom.org over the next 60 days. The U.S. DOT encourages participation in this rulemaking through Regulation Room, but the public may also submit comments to the U.S. DOT docket at regulations.gov.

The comment period begins once the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register. Read the proposal and information about how to submit comments here.

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