Feds mull tighter restrictions on truckers

Some people in the industry aren't sure the monitoring devices are a good idea.
Proposed federal rules would require companies that have a history of violating work-shift regulations to install monitoring devices on their commercial vehicles to track drivers.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is considering requiring companies that flout the rules on how long a driver can be behind the wheel to buy electronic gear that would track that information.
Federal rules prohibit a driver from spending more than 11 hours a day behind the wheel or driving more than 700 miles in a day.
Also, a driver's workday can end no later than 14 hours after it started.
Carriers with a history of serious violations would be required to install electronic on-board recorders their commercial vehicles for a minimum of two years, the federal agency said in a news release.
The devices would record basic information, including the driver's identity and duty status and the location of the vehicle, along with the distance traveled during the monitoring period.
The agency also plans to encourage industrywide use of the recorders by providing incentives for their voluntary use, administrator John H. Hill said in a statement.
The agency estimates that under the new rule, about 930 carriers with 17,500 drivers would be required to get recorders.
Unsure of practice
Donna Hulstrom, manager of Gene Hulstrom Trucking in San Jacinto, Calif., said she's not sure if the recorders would be right for everybody because circumstances, including obstructions on the road and construction, vary. Some routes are less taxing to drive, she said.
John Mouw, a Boise, Idaho, driver stopped at an Ontario, Calif. rest stop, said it's not a bad idea to include monitoring devices, but questioned whether trucking companies would go along.
"It's not in their best interest to stop a driver who wants to keep going," Mouw said.
Voluntary compliance is unlikely to catch on, Mouw said, because companies that support adherence to hours-of-service rules already abide by those rules.
The federal agency will take comments on the proposal until April 18.

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