WASHNGTON — Lost in all the hubbub and rancor about the suspension of the post July 1, 2013, 34-hour restart rule, which was part of the $1.1 trillion spending bill signed by President Barack Obama Tuesday night, was the fact that Congress decided to turn up the heat a bit with respect to a new electronic logging devices (ELD) final rule.
The bill requires that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issue its final rule on Electronic Logging Devices and Hours of Service Support Documents by June 1, 2015.
The agency has published a schedule that says the new rule will be sent to the Office of the Secretary by May 11, 2015, and then to the Office of Budget and Management by June 12, 2015.
The published schedule says that the OMB would release the rule by Sept. 16, 2015, and that the final rule would be published by Sept. 30, 2015.
Based on previous rulemakings, especially one of such consequence as the ELD rule, published schedules are seldom met.
Congress mandated an electronic logging device rule in MAP-21, the surface transportation bill passed in 2012.
The process of getting an electronic logging device rule in place is a process that has taken so long that the vernacular has been changed from electronic on-board recorders (EOBRs) to ELDs.
The original effort came in January 2007 when the agency issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that would have required motor carriers that were deemed serious violators of the Hours of Service rule to install EOBRs.
The rule became final in 2010, but before it could be implemented, the FMCSA in 2012 rescinded the rule in the wake of Congressional pressure to extend the EOBR requirement to all commercial vehicles.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 a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that was issued last March.
The FMCSA accepted comments on the SNPRM through June and is now culling through those comments (some 854) as it prepares the final rule.
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