How Does the FMSCA’s Proposed Rule on Electronic Logging Devices Affect IFTA and IRP?

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On March 28, the FMCSA published its Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (SNPRM) in the Federal Register to establish standards for electronic logging devices used for driver hours-of-service records. A 60-day public comment period on the proposed rule is open now through May 27; publication of a final rule is expected in early 2015, with an expected enforcement date no later than January 2017.

The proposed rule would make one key change for fuel tax reporting purposes.

The current rule governing the use of automatic on-board recording devices (AOBRDs) allows drivers to make minimal keystroke sequences while the vehicle is moving. This was done so drivers can mark when they cross state or provincial lines.

The latest proposal would eliminate the driver’s ability to enter information while the vehicle is in motion. The SNPRM states that geographic-location technology, presumably GPS and cellular communications, makes manual entry unnecessary.

Carriers that already have recording devices that meet current specifications would have an additional two years after the enforcement date to bring their devices into compliance with the new specifications.

While the proposed rulemaking has little direct impact on fuel tax and licensing, the eventual switch from manual to electronic logs has generated a lot of discussion among IFTA and IRP authorities—particularly, they’re looking at how to review and audit distance records produced wholly or partly by GPS-based vehicle-tracking systems.

As carriers evaluate ELDs, it’s important to ask suppliers about their methods of distance calculation for IFTA and IRP, and to monitor what fuel tax and licensing authorities are saying about the issue.

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