Once again, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has introduced a mandate to require electronic on-board recorders (EOBR) on all over-the-road interstate trucks as part of its updated hours of service rules. This would affect about 500,000 commercial carriers nationally.
Many of the nation’s large carriers are in favor of this change, with some of them having already been mandated to use the electronic logs due to safety violations (current rules require carriers with violations over 10% to use an EOBR). That rule went into effect last year and came with a promised “broader mandate.”
This is obviously that broader mandate.
Green Big Truck is in favor of all safety enhancements, as this should be the number one priority for drivers on the road. The implementation of electronic log books, however, is not, in our view, a “safety enhancement.” It is, instead, just more of the same from the government bodies that oversee the commercial transportation industry.
It’s my opinion that the greatest safety enhancement that the MCSA could enact would be to rescind all hours of service rules and start over with something new. Something that fits on less than one page of 12 point typewritten text.
Here is a rough draft of my proposal:
Drivers shall not be required to work more than 14 hours in a single day or 84 hours in a 7 day period. The driver may decide for him or herself when to work those hours with their own and the public’s safety being their number one priority.
Drivers will not be required by any trucking company or broker to drive more than 12 hours in a given day, but may optionally choose to drive more at their own discretion.
Drivers shall be required to keep a log book of their activities, with a copy current to the last 7 days. This log book cannot be requested by law enforcement or safety personnel except in case of an accident involving the driver.
Drivers shall be considered innocent until proven guilty on all counts of personal liability for accidents they are involved in while operating a commercial vehicle.
That’s just a rough draft, of course, and I am not a lawyer, but my proposal gets the gist of it down. It’s my belief that if regulations are rescinded and drivers are put in charge of their own work schedule, the highways will become much safer.
The current hours of service rules are written in such a way as to make it nearly impossible to always be compliant with them. It’s time to take the MCSA and remove them from their IRS-like mentality wherein the more complex and over-designed the rules are, the better they must be.
In the vast majority of traffic accidents involving commercial vehicles, the non-professional driver (aka “four wheeler”) was to blame for the accident. Yet rule makers continue to treat the situation as if the professional driver is always to blame. This, to my mind, is backward thinking.