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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Confusion over regulations for HOS, AOBRD and EOBR/ELD requirements and timing

Yesterday began the new Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requirements for Hours of Service (HOS).  Though the new regulations are being contested, the courts did not stop them before they took effect.  One of the most contentious mandates of the new rules requires "34-hour restarts" - which requires more rest for drivers, in order to help reduce accidents and tighten up safety standards.

Part §395.15 of the new regulation talks about AOBRD systems as a possible alternative to part 395.8 regarding the driver's record of duty status.  AOBRD systems are defined by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) as follows:
"Automatic on-board recording device means an electric, electronic, electromechanical, or mechanical device capable of recording driver's duty status information accurately and automatically as required by. The device must be integrally synchronized with specific operations of the commercial motor vehicle in which it is installed. At a minimum, the device must record engine use, road speed, miles driven, the date, and time of day".  The AOBRD system as defined, is very similar to the EOBR device definition and requirement that is wending it's way through the Federal bureaucracy   It has moved from the FMCSA to the DOT Secretary last month, on it's way to the White House Office of Management and Budget.  It's expected to go into effect in October or November of this year unless it it sent back to the DOT and FMCSA for changes.  The prior rule was struck down in 2011.  Even if this new (EOBR/ELD) rule goes into effect in November, the full implementation isn't expected to go into effect till 2015.
Keep in mind, that the current 39.15 HOS regulations regarding AOBRD functionality are optional, and can even be rescinded by the FMCSA, as outlined in the current rules.  If implemented it also doesn't change or bypass the HOS rules that the driver must conform to - it's just another way of maintaining the required driving logs.

Several providers of tracking systems,  AOBRD and Electronic On-Board Recorder (EOBR) or Electronic Logging Device (ELD) systems appear to be jumping the gun, indicating that these systems are now mandated - when that is not the case.  Carriers should be careful about purchasing any new equipment that indicates it complies with these standards, as the standards may yet change - especially if the system locks the carrier into equipment and services over the next several years.  It could put the carrier in a precarious position if the equipment doesn't end up meeting changing standards that may yet be required in 2015.  

We are advising patience and caution till the rules are accepted (or rejected) in Q4 of this year.