Senate bill mandates EOBRs

Jill Dunn | December 09, 2011

The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee will consider legislation Dec. 14 to require truck electronic onboard recorders and give the federal transportation department authority to assess driver safety fitness.

Sen. Frank Lautenburg, (D-N.J.), introduced the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Enhancement Act on Dec. 7. The bill, S. 1950, reauthorizes the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

In August, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled against the FMCSA’s requirement to mandate recorders. The court agreed with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s argument that the agency’s rule lacked sufficient protection against carriers to prevent companies from harassing drivers, such as demanding they work when fatigued.

The legislation would require applicants for operating authority pass a safety proficiency examination and submit a safety management plan, according to information from Lautenberg, who also is chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation.

Additionally, the bill would:

  • Increase the FMCSA’s ability to revoke carriers’ operating authority and require new operators applying for authority to disclose all relationships with other carriers during the past five years.
  • Directs the DOT to support implementation of the Compliance, Safety and Accountability program.
  • Requires study of the safety and infrastructure effects of increasing truck size and weight limits.

Democrat Sens. Jay Rockfeller of West Virginia, Senate Commerce Committee chairman, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Consumer Protection Subcommittee chairman, co-sponsored the bill. Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and Parents Against Tired Truckers support the bill.

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