FMCSA Announces Electronic Logging Devices Final Rule

Provided by Scopelitis, Garvin, Light, Hanson & Feary

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today announced the adoption of a Final Rule that will require commercial truck and bus carriers and drivers to use electronic logging devices (ELD) to comply with the FMCSA’s hours-of-service regulations, with limited exceptions. An ELD automatically records driving time, and intermittently records certain other information, such as engine hours, vehicle movement, miles driven, and location information. The Final Rule is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register tomorrow, December 11, 2015, and compliance with the rule will be required two years thereafter (December 11, 2017).  Drivers and motor carriers currently using compliant Automatic Onboard Recorders (AOBRDs), may continue to use those devices for an additional two years after the compliance date.

As the final rule is lengthy and complex, the following touches upon the main elements of the ELD Final Rule:

  • Requires most commercial truck and bus drivers who currently use paper records of duty status (RODS) to adopt ELDs within two years from tomorrow’s publication date. The FMCSA anticipates that approximately three million drivers will be impacted by this new rule.  Exceptions include (these drivers must still maintain paper RODS):  drivers who use paper RODS for not more than 8 days during any 30-day period; drivers who conduct driveaway-towaway operations, where the vehicle being driven is the commodity being delivered; and, drivers of vehicles manufactured before model year 2000.
  • Strictly prohibits commercial driver harassment.  The Final Rule provides substantive, procedural and technical provisions (e.g., requiring a mute function and restrictions on ability to edit records) designed to protect commercial truck and bus drivers from harassment resulting from information generated by ELDs and intended to work in conjunction with the rule prohibiting coercion of drivers.  [Please see our Transportation Law Alert from Monday, December 7, 2015 covering the rule prohibiting driver coercion in more detail].
  • Sets technology specifications detailing performance and design requirements for ELDs so that manufacturers are able to produce and certify that their devices and systems are compliant– and purchasers are enabled to make informed decisions.  There is no requirement for real-time tracking.
  • Reduces hours-of-service supporting document (shipping documents, fuel purchase receipts, etc.) requirements by requiring up to 8 supporting documents be retained for every 24-hour period a driver is on duty.  The final rule defines supporting documents and identifies five categories.  Drivers are required to submit supporting documents to the driver’s employer within 13 days.  In most cases, a motor carrier would not be required to retain supporting documents verifying on-duty driving time.

The ELD Final Rule permits the use of smart phones and other wireless devices as ELDs, so long as they satisfy technical specifications, are certified, and are listed on an FMCSA website as acceptable ELDs.  Canadian- and Mexican-domiciled drivers will also be required to use ELDs when operating on U.S. roadways.

For additional information or questions on this Final Rule, please contact Tim Wiseman, Tom O’Donnell, or Prasad Sharma.