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Semi Truck Data Expert:
Electronic Logging Devices Closer to Reality in Trucks!

Truck Telematics Expert Witness / Truck Driver GPS Expert Witness Articles

By Scott Greene

The final rule to mandate use of Electronic Logging Devices (ELD) has been sent from the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) to the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for final approval.

fmcsalogo - Truck Safety Expert WitnessFMCSA

It is expected the OMB will approve the rule as it has been written and the final rule will be published by the target date of September 30, 2015.

The ELD mandate will require all truck drivers who are required to keep records of duty status to track their HOS using an ELD formerly known as Electronic Onboard Recorders (EOBR). This rule will essentially eliminate paper HOS logs.

The rule was sent to the OMB on July 30, 2015 along with a final Prohibition of Driver Coercion rule which has significant penalties for Motor Carriers, shippers, brokers and others who pressure drivers to break federal safety standards including but not limited to: the Hours of Service (HOS) limits, drug and alcohol testing rules or hazmat regulations.

This rule defines coercion as a threat to withhold or actually withhold, current or future business, employment, pay or work opportunities from a driver who objects to violating any Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation (FMCSR). The rule also makes it clear an act of coercion would not absolve the driver of his responsibility to adhere to the rules.

Knowing a violation is going to occur is more readily visible to motor carriers when they can see in-real-time the current HOS status of the driver. In other words, it will be obvious the threatening party “knew, or should have known” the operation of a Commercial Motor Vehicle (CMV) by the driver would require the driver to violate the regulations.

Under the Coercion Rule, a threat would not constitute coercion unless the driver objects or attempts to object to the operation of the vehicle for reasons related to the HOS (or other) regulations.

Where coercion is proven, the FMCSA could impose a civil penalty up to $11,000 per offense. In addition, the FMCSA could suspend, amend, or revoke the operating authority registration of the motor carrier, broker, or freight forwarder for violations of the rule.

The coercion rule is not specifically linked to the ELD rule. However, the FMCSA produced the Prohibition of Driver Coercion rule as a way to ensure the ELD rule is not tossed out by the courts once published. A similar 2011 rule was tossed in court after drivers complained carriers and shippers would use ELDs to harass drivers during off-duty periods and to coerce them to operate outside of trucking federal safety rules.

The coercion rule requires the implementation of a system for drivers to file coercion or harassment complaints with FMCSA.

The OMB legally has 90 days to approve the rules or send them back to FMCSA to be changed, which is unlikely. Once published in the Federal Register, the rules will take effect in two years.


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