By early December 2017, an estimated 3 million commercial drivers will have thrown out their paper logbooks. A long-anticipated rule requiring electronic logging devices for truck and bus driver hours of service was announced Thursday morning.
“Since 1938, complex, on-duty/off-duty logs for truck and bus drivers were made with pencil and paper, virtually impossible to verify,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This automated technology not only brings logging records into the modern age, it also allows roadside safety inspectors to unmask violations of federal law that put lives at risk.”
An electronic logging device, or ELD, automatically records driving time. It monitors engine hours, vehicle movement, miles driven, and location information. Although many fleets already are using some version of electronic logbooks, the agency estimates making them mandatory will save 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries each year.
Truck and bus drivers who currently use paper log books must adopt ELDs within two years. The agency estimates about 3 million drivers will be affected.
Motor carriers that are already using electronic log systems compliant with current federal rules (defined as Automatic On-Board Recording Devices, or AOBRDs) have an extra two years to switch over to the new ELD requirements.
The rule includes technology specifications detailing performance and design requirements for ELDs so manufacturers are able to produce compliant devices and systems.
It also establishes new hours-of-service supporting document (shipping documents, fuel purchase receipts, etc.) requirements that the agency says will result in additional paperwork reductions. In most cases, a motor carrier would not be required to retain supporting documents verifying on-duty driving time.
The rule strictly prohibits using ELDs to harass drivers. (A separate FMCSA rulemaking further safeguards commercial drivers from being coerced to violate federal safety regulations and provides the agency with the authority to take enforcement actions not only against motor carriers, but also against shippers, receivers, and transportation intermediaries.)
permits the use of smartphones and other wireless devices as ELDs, so
long as they satisfy technical specifications, are certified, and are
listed on an FMCSA website.
Canadian- and Mexican-domiciled drivers will also be required to use ELDs when operating on U.S. roadways.
In developing the ELD Final Rule, FMCSA says it relied on input from its Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee, feedback from two public listening sessions, comments filed during an extended comment period following the 2011 proposed rule, and comments to the 2014 supplementary proposed rule. The final rule also incorporates mandates included in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act and other statutes.
The rule is scheduled for official publication Friday, Dec. 11. A copy of the ELD Final Rule is available at: https://www.fmcsa.dot.gov/hours-service/elds/electronic-logging-devices-and-hours-service-supporting-documents
Further information, including a searchable list of frequently asked questions and a calendar of free training webinars, is available at www.fmcsa.dot.gov/elds.
Driver turnover at large truckload fleets rose to an annualized rate of 87% in the second quarter of 2015 according to Bob Costello, chief economist of American Trucking Associations.
Despite a rise of three percentage points over the first quarter, the figure is still below recent averages and turnover at large fleets is at its lowest point since the second quarter of 2011. In 2014, large fleet turnover averaged 95%.
“While below recent averages, driver turnover is still high and a sign of a very competitive market for qualified drivers,” said Costello. “We repeatedly hear from carriers that they are unable to find enough qualified drivers, leading to fears of a growing driver shortage and these numbers reflect that.”
By contrast, smaller truckload fleets, with revenues of less than $30 million, fell seven percentage points to 76%, hitting its lowest mark since the third quarter of 2013. In a recent report, ATA projected the driver shortage to hit 48,000 drivers by the end of the year – the highest recorded level yet.
“America’s trucking industry moves nearly 70% of the country’s freight and we need drivers to do it,” said Costello. “While turnover is not at historic highs, it is still high enough to merit concern. Fleets need to hire 89,000 a drivers a year to keep pace with retirements and projected growth, so ensuring an adequate pool of qualified drivers is critical.”