On-Board Electronic Devices

FMCSA should mandate the use of electronic on-board devices for all truckers now required to keep paper logs

On Dec. 11, 2007, FMCSA announced it is working to finalize a proposed rule that would require drivers and trucking companies with serious or repeat hours-of-service violations to track their hours of service using electronic on-board recorders. Consumer safety groups have long advocated that all commercial trucks be required to monitor hours-of-service through automatic on-board devices. They have blasted this proposal as too weak to be effective, and another indication that the agency is controlled by the trucking industry.

Current regulations allow truck drivers to record their hours in written logbooks that are reviewed by inspectors. Studies of long-distance truck drivers have found that work rules commonly are violated. About a third of drivers interviewed by the Institute admitted to often or sometimes omitting hours from their log books. Some truck drivers refer to logbooks as "comic books" because they are so easily falsified.

The pressure to skirt hours of service rules comes directly from trucking companies that place a premium on meeting unrealistic delivery schedules over safety of their own drivers and the public. 

Onboard computers reduce opportunities for violating the rules because they automatically record when a truck is driven. Europe began requiring the use of electronic recording devices in January 2006.


Putting the Brakes on Unsafe Trucking Companies