What is the FMCSA? This stands for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, whose primary mission is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities that involve large commercial trucks and buses. They are also responsible for developing and enforcing data-driven regulations to balance motor carrier safety with efficiency, target educational messages to all involved, and more. The FMCSA is actually located in Washington, DC, and employs over 1,000 people in all 50 states. They are dedicated to saving lives on the roadways and preventing overall dangers.
In March 2014, the Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed the use of electronic logbooks to improve the efficiency and safety in commercial bus and truck industries. The FMCSA announced the proposal, which requires interstate commercial truck and bus companies to use Electronic Logging Devices, also known as ELDs. These devices could improve compliance with the safety rules that govern the number of hours that a driver is able to work in a week. This would lead to better quality of logbook data by reducing paperwork associated with recordkeeping for truck and bus drivers. This paperwork is burdening; in fact, it is the largest recordkeeping in the federal government following tax-related filings. The paperwork is seen as unnecessary by many, and these adjustments can boost efficiency for both motor carriers and safety inspectors alike.
So, how do people benefit from this program? This rule reduces hours-of-service by making it much more difficult for drivers to misrepresent time put in logbooks and avoid detection by FMCSA and law enforcement. It also helps reduce crashes by fatigued drivers, which could prevent approximately 20 fatalities and 434 injuries each year. How much does this save? An outstanding $394.8 million!! Impaired driving, which includes fatigue, is a factor in more than 12 percent of the 129,120 total crashes that involved large trucks or buses in 2012 alone.
Drivers will also be prevented from harassment. A motor carrier will not be able to hold information against a driver that is using an ELD. This could produce a civil penalty of up to $11,000 for a motor carrier that engages in driver harassment. Drivers will continue to have access to their own records at all times. This is super important and a great, new implemented plan.
Requirements of ELDs
By 2017, it is a requirement that all CDL drivers have a Record of Duty Status (ROD) that includes an ELD to document their compliance with Hours of Service rules. These ELD rules will add certain technical and performance specifications to define exactly what the device is supposed to feature. ELDs must do the following:
- They must connect to the truck’s engine to record if the truck is in motion or not.
- They must allow a driver to log in and select On-duty, Off-duty, or On-Duty not driving. These segments must be automatically selected based on vehicle movement.
- They must graphically display a Record of Status, so that a driver can quickly see the hours in a day.
- They must provide data in a format that can be transmitted to law enforcement in a couple of different ways.
- They must be provider-certified so that the device meets the proper specifications.
- They must be listed on an FMCSA website.