Proposed Rule for Making Atlanta, Georgia A Safer Place – Minimizing Trucking Accidents From Drowsy Driving

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In January 2011, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the federal agency which governs interstate truck driving, proposed an interesting rule. The FMCSA has been long-concerned with truck drivers in Georgia and around the nation who operate huge rigs on little sleep and with little off-duty time. As an Atlanta trucking attorney, I have seen my share of wrecks caused by truck drivers who simply weren’t as alert as they should have been.

As part of a campaign to minimize drowsy truck driving, the FMCSA has proposed a rule which would require interstate trucking companies to keep electronic records of their drivers’ hours of service (referred to as HOS in the trucking industry) (i.e, the drivers’ “on-duty” time). These electronic records would be kept via Electronic On-Board Recorders (EOBR). In exchange for keeping these records via an EOBR, the trucking companies would not have to keep paper records of deliveries and tolls, which are used to identify a driver’s location and, ultimately, validate hours of service.

The proposed rule would apply to all interstate commercial carriers that now use records of duty logbooks. These logbooks document hours-of-service compliance.

Trucking companies that violate the proposed law would be subject to fines of up to $11,000 for each offense. It will be interesting to see which trucking companies oppose this rule and what possible justification they might have for not wanting to keep accurate, electronic records of their drivers’ whereabouts and on-duty time.

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