Limo Industry Opposes Costly Fleet Vehicle Recorder Devices

Linda Jagiela
Posted on June 15, 2014

With the catastrophic bus accidents that have been in the news during the past few years, lawmakers are asking what more they could do to prevent them.

Although strict laws already are in place for CDL drivers, one proposal would be to limit the hours of service (HOS) for a chauffeur, mandating the length of time they can drive these vehicles. HOS laws already on the books to prevent driver fatigue look at how much time someone is actually driving a vehicle and require driver rest periods.

Since the 1990s, however, truckers and bus drivers have been using electronic onboard recorders (EOBRs). The for-hire transportation industry has been mostly exempt from the vehicle recorders, but that could now change.

In June 2012, the U.S. Congress passed, and in July 2012 President Obama signed, the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century or MAP-21 Bill. MAP-21 included a provision that directed the Federal Motor Carrier Standards Act to set up a regulation which mandated the use of ELDs (Electronic Logging Devices, also known as a “black box” or an “EOBR”). While EOBRs previously only recorded the use of the vehicles, ELDs involve specific driver input.  MAP-21 was the game changer for the for-hire industry which was previously exempt from on board electronic logging devices.

In March, the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed a regulation which would require interstate commercial truck and bus companies to use ELDs in their vehicles.
Advocates of the requirement claim that the proposed rule making will reduce paperwork related to HOS while saving lives and becoming more efficient. They believe that ELDs will make it more difficult for drivers to misrepresent their hours of service, thereby reducing HOS violations.

Due to concerns with noncompliance found mostly in other segments of the transportation industry, Congress mandated that FMCSA require every commercial vehicle involved in interstate commerce and operated by a driver subject to HOS be equipped with an electronic logging device to improve compliance with HOS regulations.

What are ELDs?
As defined by MAP-21, ELDs are tamper-resistant devices that can record the location of a commercial vehicle, recognize when the vehicle is being operated, and allow law enforcement to access the data during a roadside inspection. MAP-21 also required ELDs to have data storage, unique vehicle identifiers, and allow for the identification of each driver subject to HOS and record of duty status (RODS) requirements.
Some are more sophisticated and also can record data such as rate of speed and other metrics. Others have mapping programs and route guides. For-hire passenger transportation operators are familiar with paper log books which record drivers’ hours of service, but up until this point have not needed to be concerned about ELDs.
While FMCSA projects ELDs may cost $300 a unit, other observers suggest the devices may cost $2,000.

What Does This Mean For The For-Hire Industry?
The chauffeured transportation industry has not previously been regulated to this strict extent on HOS. Hours of service causing fatigued driver accidents have never been an issue in the for hire industry. The FMCSA is pursuing at least two options to comply with MAP-21. Either, FMCSA may require every commercial vehicle driver subject to HOS requirements to install an ELD. Or, FMCSA may require ELDs only for commercial use where a driver is already required to complete a record of driving. In other words, the second option would exempt short haul drivers from ELDs.

Make Your Voice Heard
Time is limited to get limousine industry voices heard, since there is only a 60-day comment period. After that, the FMCSA will adjust its rules based on feedback, which the National Limousine Association anticipates will take three to nine months. The NLA believes the new rules could be in effect by the end of 2016 or early 2017.

“The NLA agrees with EOBRs being installed on motorcoach long-haul tour operator coaches, as it is a completely different business compared to chauffeur car and bus,” NLA President Gary Buffo said. “In our industry, we focus on local business, where our vehicles, including 35-passenger cutaway buses, may travel up to 100 miles in a day, but never go beyond 100 miles from their office.

“Long-haul tour operators will travel 500 miles in a single day and reach distances more than 2,000 miles from the office. We must educate members of Congress and FMCSA on our business. We must stand firm and united with EOBRs not being installed on our smaller vehicles. This will be extremely costly to our members, as it will be mandated. This year will be a very important year to have record attendance at Day on the Hill. We will have serious industry issues to discuss, including the EOBR issue as a major talking point.”
What Would Compliant EOBR Devices Record?

  • Name of driver and any co-driver(s), and corresponding driver identification information (such as a user ID and password). However, the name of the driver and any co-driver is not required to be transmitted as part of the downloaded file during a roadside inspection.
  • Duty status – “Off duty”, “Sleeper berth”, “Driving” or “On-duty not driving”
  • Date and time
  • Location of the commercial motor vehicle (CMV) when a duty status changes
  • Distance traveled
  • Name and USDOT Number of the motor carrier and Main Office address
  • 24-hour period starting time (e.g., midnight, 9 a.m., noon, 3 p.m.)
  • The multiday basis (7 or 8 days) used by the motor carrier to compute cumulative duty hours and driving time
  • Hours in each duty status for the 24-hour period, and total hours
  • Truck or tractor and trailer number
  • Shipping document number(s), or name of shipper and commodity

A compliant device will also send the driver an audible or visual alert when they’re nearing their driving limit, approaching their on-duty time limit for a 24-hour period, or are nearing their weekly on-duty or driving time limitations. The warnings must be delivered at least 30 minutes in advance, giving drivers time to find a safe place to park. It’s important to note that entries can made by the driver only, and that all hard copies of the driver’s record of duty status must be signed by the driver.


Related Topics: electronics, federal regulations, fleet tracking, Fleet Vehicles, Record Keeping

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