Agency Fails to Require Electronic Recorders in All Trucks, Doesn’t Protect People on Highways from Tired Truckers

Jan. 11, 2007

Agency Fails to Require Electronic Recorders in All Trucks, Doesn’t Protect People on Highways from Tired Truckers

Statement of Joan Claybrook, President of Public Citizen*

After being rebuked by a federal court for failing to consider requiring electronic devices to monitor whether trucking companies are forcing their drivers to work beyond the maximum number of hours, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) has again failed the public by releasing today a very weak standard for electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs).

EOBRs in all trucks hold great promise for detecting – and deterring – violations of the hours-of-service rules. Hours-of-service rules are intended to protect all of us – truckers themselves, as well as everyone else on the highways – from the grave risks of having overworked, exhausted drivers on the nation’s roads. But FMCSA has squandered a real opportunity to protect the public. 

Instead of mandating on-board recorders in all commercial trucks with a fair, across-the-board standard, FMCSA today released a proposed rule that would require recorders only for trucking companies that have been caught significantly violating hours-of-service rules. We know that many more companies violate these rules because their drivers keep fake log books (which are so legendarily erroneous that they are known in the trade as “comic books”), but they are not detected. Under the FMCSA rule, these scofflaws can continue to violate the law without consequences and put the public at risk. 

These recorders should be mandated in an across-the-board standard that treats all companies equally. The public deserves much more than this.

* Joan Claybrook was administrator of NHTSA from 1977-1981.

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