As the FMCSA begins their listening session today concerning the issue of driver harassment by use of EOBR, the ATA continues its push for the mandate while OOIDA voices their opposition.
The listening session, scheduled between 1:30 to 5:30 PM is said to be focusing on the possible harassment concern and welcomes comments by drivers.
To register for the “live” webcast and be provided the call-in number to participate in the session visit here: FMCSA EOBR Listening Session.
Since the FMCSA listening sessions are basically useless for truck drivers since most are on the road, unable to attend, you can share your thoughts with the FMCSA concerning EOBR driver harassment by faxing your comments to: 1-202-493-2251.
Although the FMCSA seeks comments from drivers during the “listening” session, truck drivers seldom have the opportunity to comment due to one problem: their driving. OODIA will be present to represent drivers during the session.
The only real problem I have with mandating the EOBR in all trucks is the harassment issue. More than once I have had dispatch send a message telling me to “get moving” when I was on my break or if I was just too tired at the time and was taking a quick 30 or 60 minute rest period.
With future EOBR usage, truck drivers must have a way to record any such messages to protect themselves from illegal dispatch orders. Currently, drivers can only take a photo of the message. Just as most EOBR’s have canned messages, technology should be available to the driver to maintain or retrieve such illegal messages which force them to violate FMCSA rules.
All messages sent or received through the EOBR are maintained for six months and furthermore, drivers should be allowed to request and receive any message from the EOBR by the carrier when the driver does so request. By mandating EOBR’s, without any such protection provided to the driver, the FMCSA is simply handing motor carriers additional power to push drivers harder and continue the driver harassment that takes place within the industry.
The information that the FMCSA says it is looking for by drivers are:
- In terms of motor carriers’ and enforcement officials’ monitoring or review of drivers’ records of duty status (RODS), what would constitute driver harassment? Would that definition change based on whether the system for recording HOS is paper or electronically based? If so, how? As a starting point, the Agency is interested in potential forms of harassment, including but not limited to those that are: (1) not prohibited already by current statutes and regulations; (2) distinct from monitoring for legitimate business purposes (e.g., efforts to maintain or improve productivity); and (3) facilitated or made possible solely by EOBR devices and not as a result of functions or features that motor carriers may choose to purchase, such as fleet management system capabilities. Is this interpretation appropriate? Should it be broader? Or narrower?
- Are there types of driver harassment to which drivers are uniquely vulnerable if they are using EOBRs rather than paper logs? If so, what and how would use of an EOBR rather than a paper log make a driver more susceptible to harassment? Are there ways in which the use of an EOBR rather than a paper log makes a driver less susceptible to harassment?
- What types of harassment are motor carrier drivers subjected to currently, how frequently, and to what extent does this harassment happen? How would an electronic device capable of contemporaneous transmission of information to a motor carrier guard against (or fail to guard against) this kind of harassment? What experience have motor carriers and drivers had with carriers using EOBRs as compared to those who do not use these devices in terms of their effect on driver harassment or complaints of driver harassment?
- What measures should the Agency consider taking to eliminate the potential for EOBRs to be used to harass drivers? Are there specific functions and capabilities of EOBRs that should be restricted to reduce the likelihood of the devices being used to harass vehicle operators?
- Motor carriers are often responsible for managing their drivers and equipment to optimize efficiency and productivity and to ensure transportation services are provided in accordance with a planned schedule. Carriers commonly use electronic devices, which may include but are not limited to EOBRs, to enhance productivity and optimize fleet operation. Provided such devices are not used to coerce drivers into violating Federal safety regulations, where is the line between legitimate productivity measures and inappropriate oversight or actions that may be construed as harassment?
- FMCSA also seeks concepts, ideas, and comments from enforcement personnel on the HOS information they would need to see on the EOBR display screen at the roadside to effectively enforce the HOS rules and the type of evidence they would need to retain in order to support issuing drivers a citation for HOS violations observed during roadside inspections.
© 2012, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.