FMSCA now allows truckers to correct errors on automatic onboard recording devices
What attorneys need to know now about AOBRDs
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently revised its guidance pertaining to automatic onboard recording devices (AOBRDs). This new revision will be explained below.
The rule change will certainly impact truck accident cases involving data records that plaintiff attorneys will need to know about, especially if original data entries are not retained after modifications are made by drivers who have just caused an injury or crash.
An AOBRD is a form of an electronic logging device. These devices are intended to replace the traditional driver’s logs, which are typically done manually on paper. The recent changes are intended to give drivers a chance to correct inaccurate information which may have been recorded in the AOBRDs.
The FMCSA guidance states:
“within certain limits, a driver must be allowed to review his or her AOBRD records, annotate and correct inaccurate records, enter any missing information, and certify the accuracy of the information.”
FMCSA also noted that the AOBRD must keep the original entries and reflect the date, time and name of the person who subsequently edits to the information within the log. Furthermore, a truck driver’s supervisor may request the trucker to make edits to correct errors, but the driver must accept or reject such requests.
This is critical because much of the trucking industry today is based upon an unsafe business model, where there’s pressure put on a truck driver to speed or drive over hours of service, skip pre-trip inspections and proper rest periods between trips. And the situation is exacerbated by paying drivers by the mile, instead of by the hour which again incentivizes drivers to unnecessarily risk the safety of others on our roads.
According to the new guidance, driving time cannot be edited except with unidentified or team drivers and when the driving time was assigned to the wrong driver or was not assigned to a truck driver at all. So, it appears that circumstances wherein a trucker could go back and edit the logs appear to be fairly limited.
The FMCSA acknowledges that drivers “need to be able to make legitimate corrections to their electronic AOBRD records.”
Naturally, as a safety advocate and truck accident lawyer who has seen far too many preventable truck accidents caused by dangerous truck drivers who violate the hours of service regulations, I wonder whether this new guidance is prudent. Even with the seemingly limited circumstances where a trucker could go back and retroactively change the AOBRD logs, there’s always the possibility that this guidance could invite abuse.
This new regulatory guidance is live. It became effective the date it was published, October 2, 2015.
For more information about this new guidance please see the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.