DOT requiring electronic driving records in two years

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 The divisive issue of electronic driving records reemerged following the federal government’s recent decision requiring truck drivers to switch from paper-based to electronic record keeping within two years.

The American Trucking Associations support the rule issued Thursday by the Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration which applies to post-1999 model year trucks.

“This regulation will change the trucking industry – for the better – forever,” said Bill Graves, ATA president and CEO. “An already safe and efficient industry will get more so with the aid of this proven technology.”

The ATA and other proponents of electronic record keeping contend that the new law will help keep more fatigued drivers off the road and thus reduce the chances for accidents.

Drivers are limited to 11 hours of driving each day, as set by the FMCSA. Following a 10-hour break, drivers can get back on the road.

According to electronic tracking proponents drivers who keep records by hand can more easily manipulate data and get past driving time restrictions.

Opponents of electronic record keeping contend that the tracking devices are an invasion of privacy, create more expense (acquisition of device and cost of monitoring), don’t account for changes in schedules, and limit driving to the point that shipping delays will be incurred and, given that more truckers will be needed at time when the industry has continued to struggle with recruiting, costs of trucking will increase.

The FMCSA said electronic tracking will reduce annual costs associated with paperwork by $1 billion and that strict protections are in place to protect drivers from harassment over their driving records.

However, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association remains concerned with the new mandate.

“From our perspective, if folks want to use technology … we have no issue with that. When the government mandates, it goes beyond where it needs to go,” OOIDA Vice President Todd Spencer told Land Line magazine.

Spencer said there’s no data to indicate that electronic recording keeping is any safer than paper-based methods. In fact, he said, computer-based tracking actually puts more drivers at risk.

“Onboard recorders are all about productivity and enhancing productivity, which basically puts those in constant conflict with the legitimate safety needs of drivers,” Spencer said.