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Overdrive Staff | June 01, 2012

FMCSA nixes EOBR mandate

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has issued a final rule that formally rescinds its April 2010 final rule concerning electronic onboard recorders for hours-of-service compliance. FMCSA’s action responds to a court decision that vacated the rule that would have mandated EOBRs on all trucks used by certain non-compliant carriers.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in August 2011 vacated the agency’s EOBR rule following a challenge by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. OOIDA had argued that the final rule had not met federal regulations stipulating FMCSA ensure the devices not be used to harass vehicle operators.

An EOBR mandate that would cover all carriers, though, is included in Senate’s version of a multiyear highway bill that, at press time, was in a House-Senate conference committee. It’s not known if the committee’s compromise version of the two bills will include the mandate or not.

Despite the appeals court decision, FMCSA on Feb. 10 announced its intent to move forward with rulemaking regarding EOBRs and hours of service. The agency also announced via the Federal Register steps to obtain comprehensive data to support its rulemaking, including:

Listening sessions on the issue of driver harassment (held in March and April).

Tasking the Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee to assist in developing material to support the rulemaking, including technical specifications for EOBRs and their potential to be used to harass drivers.

Conducting research by surveying drivers, carriers and vendors regarding harassment issues.

The Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee on Feb. 8 finalized a report on mitigating the use of EOBRs to harass drivers that provides suggestions to FMCSA. The document contained information the agency should explore in any rulemaking on EOBRs for hours of service compliance.

Harassment issues relative to electronic logs cover driver relationships with law enforcement personnel and carriers, tilting heavily toward the latter and favoring drivers’ positions in certain instances.

— Staff reports

States looking for trucking options

This year, three California ports will begin a project to move freight with barges instead of trucks. Meanwhile, Texas officials hope to decrease truck movement with a shuttle system.

Some Texas cities are looking at this conceptual freight-carrying system to reduce reliance on trucks.

In recent years, government entities facing congested roads, emissions and shrinking maintenance dollars have sought ways to transport cargo by means other than trucks.

The Oakland, Stockton and West Sacramento ports will share a federal stimulus grant to establish a barge container system to move freight between the ports, according to the California Department of Transportation. “The California Green Trade Corridor/Marine Highway Project is a $30 million investment to develop a marine highway system as an alternative to shipping freight by truck,” it stated March 14.

The project, expected to begin this year, will eliminate thousands of truck hauls on the I-580, I-80, I-205 and I-5 corridors, says CDOT.

Last year, Freight Shuttle International submitted the only response to the Texas DOT’s request for proposals for a low-emission freight transportation facility on the I-35 right-of-way. In return for up to 50 years of lease payments, Freight Shuttle would finance, build and maintain a shuttle between San Antonio and Dallas.

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