Electronic On-Board Recorders: Conjecture and wishful thinking - The Packer

Electronic On-Board Recorders: Conjecture and wishful thinking

02/13/2012 02:25:00 AM
Tom Karst

Tom KarstOne of the rules published in the Feb. 13 Federal Register is a notice of intent by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to move forward with Electronic On-Board Recorders and Hours of Service Supporting Documents rulemaking. The rule is effective Feb. 27:

From the notice:

FMCSA announces its intent to move forward with the Electronic On-Board Recorders and Hours of Service Supporting Documents rulemaking (EOBR 2) by preparing a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNPRM). To augment the Agency's efforts to obtain comprehensive data to support this SNPRM, FMCSA plans to do the following: hold listening sessions on the issue of driver harassment; task the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee (MCSAC) to assist in developing material to support this rulemaking, including technical specifications for EOBRs and their  potential to be used to harass drivers; and conduct research by  surveying drivers, carriers, and vendors regarding harassment issues.

 TK: What's wrong with Electronic On-Board Recorders? Let the OOIDA explain in a 2011 comment to the FMCSA:

Today, without waiting for OOIDA‘s court challenge to EOBR I to run its course or to have the opportunity of observing whether the previously mandated use of EOBRs would result in any improvement in HOS  compliance or highway safety, FMCSA lunges forward with a plan to mandate the use of EOBRs to monitor the movements of four million (4,000,000) drivers, operating for five hundred thousand (500,000) motor carriers using 3,637,000 vehicles twenty four hours a day, seven days a week whenever a driver gets behind the wheel of a commercial motor vehicle. 

FMCSA embarks on this ill-advised program without the any evidence that electronic devices, which require the manual input of changes in duty status, will provide the slightest improvement over paper log books which also depend upon manual input of such information. While it is true that EOBRs can measure an individual‘s driving time, those devices cannot determine compliance with the Hours of Service rules any better than paper log books. Nor can  they determine whether a driver has had an opportunity to obtain restorative sleep in order to eliminate fatigue. Even if EOBRs can detect when drivers operate more than eleven hours in one day, empirical data demonstrate that accidents are far more likely to occur during a driver‘s first hour behind the wheel and that the rate of accidents after eleven hours, is by comparison, minuscule. The incremental benefits from the proposed rule cannot possibly justify the costs of this program.

FMCSA has no credible data on the relationship between the use of EOBRs and HOS compliance, and even less data on the relationship between HOS compliance and highway safety. The entire cost-benefit analysis is based upon 2003 data that it previouslyvrejected as a basis for an EOBR mandate and that has never been updated. FMCSA attempts to hide its failure to update its data collection and analyses behind its current euphemism that it has layered data analysis in each successive rulemaking since 2003. But all that has been layered is one unsupported assumption upon the next unsupported assumption, coupled with conjecture inspired by an excess dose of wishful thinking. There is virtually nothing in the record that would allow one to defend FMCSA‘s cost benefit analysis as the product of seasoned decision-making.

TK: A delay of sorts, but another contested regulation from the Obama Administration is moving forward. This one also  figures to add to trucking costs for produce operators.

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