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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Electronic Logging Proposed Rule Clears OMB

As reported by The Trucker: The Electronic Logging Devices and Hours of Service Supporting Documents Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking has cleared the Office of Management and Budget.

The rulemaking was removed Wednesday morning from the list of regulatory matters under review by OMB as posted on the website of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs of the OMB where it has been listed since early last August.

The OMB review is typically the last step before a proposed rulemaking is published in the Federal Register.

The removal from the OMB list means that the rulemaking’s long-awaited release is imminent.

“Use of electronic logging devices across both the interstate trucking and the passenger transportation industries will strengthen compliance with federal Hours of Service regulations, reducing the risk of fatigue-related crashes of commercial motor vehicles, and most centrally, save lives,“ Duane DeBruyne, a spokesman for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, said. “FMCSA is pleased that the Office of Management and Budget has completed its review of the SNPRM allowing its imminent publication in the Federal Register and commencing public review and comment.“

It is highly unlikely that the FMSCA has been sitting idly by while OMB reviewed the rule. Rather, it is likely the agency has been in constant contact with OMB, making any changes to the rule requested by OMB, and especially analyses of the economic impact of the rule and at the same time carefully planning the release of the rulemaking, which will certainly be hailed by many and criticized by others.

The FMCSA has been attempting to put in place an electronic logging device rule since January 2007 when the agency issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would have required motor carriers that were deemed serious violators of HOS to install electronic on-board recorders, or EOBRs as the logging devices were called until FMCSA change the vernacular in the new proposed rulemaking.

That rule became final in 2010, but before it could be implemented, the FMCSA in 2012 rescinded the rule in the wake of Congressional pressure to extend the EOBR requirement to all commercial vehicles.

The agency then wrote a proposed rulemaking that required EOBRs in all commercial vehicles, but the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association sued, saying the rule did not prohibit the harassment of drivers.

The court agreed and the FMCSA was forced to work on the rule to eliminate the possibility of driver harassment and make other refinements, all of which are now supposed to be incorporated in the SNPRM.

A move by Congress put more urgency in the agency’s effort to get the rulemaking out for comment when lawmakers included an electronic logging device mandate in MAP-21.