United States truck regulator mandates electronic work diaries

By: Brad Gardner

Truck drivers will need to switch to electronic work diaries within two years.

United States truck regulator mandates electronic work diaries
Most truck drivers in the US have until 2018 to switch to electronic work diaries.


Most truck drivers in the US will soon need to ditch their paper logbooks after a new rule was passed to mandate electronic work diaries (EWD) for the bulk of the industry.   

The country’s truck safety regulator, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), issued the new order and says it will apply to most of the country’s truck and bus drivers.

Those currently using paper diaries must, within two years, adopt EWDs, which automatically record driving time, engine hours, vehicle movement, kilometres driven and location information.

While Australia edges closer to implementing voluntary-based EWDs, the US believes a compulsory system will deliver significant safety and compliance benefits.

The FMCSA estimates its decision will reduce 1,844 crashes, save 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries from crashes involving heavy vehicles annually.

"This is a win for all motorists on our nation’s roadways," FMCSA acting administrator Scott Darling says.

"Employing technology to ensure that commercial drivers comply with federal hours-of-service rules will prevent crashes and save lives."

US transportation secretary Anthony Foxx says paper diaries, in place since 1938, are complex and "virtually impossible to verify".

"This automated technology not only brings logging records into the modern age, it also allows roadside safety inspectors to unmask violations of federal law that put lives at risk," Foxx says.

The US estimates the decision to mandate EWDs will affect about 3 million drivers. Tow truck drivers and trucks and bus models manufactured before the year 2000 are exempt.


Most truck drivers in the United States will need to switch to electronic work diaries by 2018.

Posted by Owner Driver on Tuesday, 15 December 2015


The new system includes protections for drivers to ensure they are not pressured to keep working beyond their permitted hours.

"FMCSA explicitly prohibits a motor carrier from harassing a driver, and provides that a driver may file a written complaint…if the driver was subject to harassment," the agency says.

"Technical provisions that address harassment include a mute function to ensure that a driver is not interrupted in the sleeper berth."

While it says drivers and companies can make limited edits to EWD records, the FMCSA adds that the original record generated cannot be changed to prevent manipulation.

The US trucking industry has the flexibility to use smart phones or other wireless devices as EWDs, as long as they meet technical specifications.

The peak trucking body in the US, the American Trucking Associations (ATA), supports mandatory EWDs and has labelled the FMCSA’s decision "a historic step forward for the industry".

"This regulation will change the trucking industry – for the better – forever. An already safe and efficient industry will get more so with the aid of this proven technology," ATA president and CEO Bill Graves says.

 ATA vice president Dave Osiecki says the association plans to work with the FMCSA, law enforcement agencies and the industry during the two-year transition to the implementation of the technology.

The FMCSA's new rule comes on the heels of chain of responsibility-like provisions being introduced to prevent truck drivers being pressured to break the law to meet a delivery schedule.

Work on the introduction of EWDs in Australia moved ahead in September this year when legislation passed to allow the National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) to approve the devices.

The technology is being touted as an effective way of reducing the industry’s administrative burden because operators and drivers will no longer need to keep paper records.

The Australian Trucking Association (ATA), however, believes EWDs will be too expensive for small firms, while there are also concerns the devices may expose sections of the industry to fines for petty offences.


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