Effective July 12, 2010, there was a change in the requirements regarding the supporting documents a motor carrier must retain to verify a driver’s record of duty status (RODS). The FMCSA published a notice entitled “Policy on the Retention of Supporting Documents and the Use of Electronic Mobile Communication/Tracking Technology in Assessing Motor Carriers’ and Commercial Motor Vehicle Drivers’ Compliance with the Hours of Service Regulations” on June 10, 2010.
Motor carriers will no longer be required to maintain the following supporting documents, which were previously required under 49 CFR 395.8(k)(1); “driver call-in records, International registration plan, International fuel tax agreement receipts, Trip permits, Cash advance receipts; and Driver fax reports (cover sheets).”This notice rescinds the previous list provided under Guidance Question Number 10 and provides an updated shorter list.
Motor carriers that utilize a “qualified” electronic mobile communication/tracking technology, have even less documents to retain. These motor carriers do not need to produce the following supporting documents for the driver of a motor vehicle that is so equipped:
– Gate record receipts;
– Weigh/scale tickets;
– Port of entry receipts;
– Delivery receipts;
– Toll receipts
– Agricultural inspection reports;
– Over/short and damage reports;
– Driver and vehicle examination Reports (however does not effect 49 CFR 396);
– Traffic citations;
– Overweight/oversize reports and citations;
– Carrier pros;
– Credit card receipts;
– Border Crossing Reports;
– Customs declarations; and
– Telephone billing statements.
The term “electronic mobile communication/tracking technology” includes technologies that permit a motor carrier to determine the location of its vehicle and transmit or receive messages to and from its drivers. The notice also refers to that same technology or records as “electronic mobile communication/tracking systems” and “electronic mobile communication/tracking records.” Any motor carriers that take advantage of the relaxed retention requirements are precluded from challenging the accuracy of their electronic mobile communication/tracking records at an Hours-of-Service enforcement proceeding.
This raises the question what is a “qualified” electronic mobile communication/tracking technology. In order to qualify, the electronic mobile communication/tracking technology must have the following characteristics:
· Positioning frequency – must communicate the location of the vehicle at least once per hour while the vehicle is in motion.
· Vehicle integration – the system must be synchronized with the vehicle.
· Report functionality – must be able to generate a report with the required content in either a paper or electronic format (i.e. spreadsheet, portable document, image file or commonly available software format)
· Report content – the generated position history report must contain at least the following information; vehicle identification information, date, time, proximity location (reference points), and latitude and longitude for each position communicated.
· Retention – the position history reports must be maintained by the carrier for at least 6 months, as required by 49 CFR 395.8(k)(1).
If a motor carrier uses an electronic mobile communication/tracking technology in the ordinary course of business for any purpose, regardless of whether it meets the qualified requirements, the motor carrier is “expected to include the use of [those] records and information generated by that technology in its HOS oversight activities.” Further, a failure to maintain electronic mobile communication/tracking technology records may be cited as a violation of 49 CFR 395.8(k)(1), just like a failure to maintain any other supporting document.
Despite this new policy a motor carrier is still required to comply with other statutes and regulations that may require the retention of other documents and the policy does not cover carriers that are using an electronic on-board recording device as a remedial measure or as part of a settlement agreement.