The U.S. government is trying to give truckers a break, doing away with a 62-year-old paperwork rule that was costing the industry as much as $1.7 billion annually.
Truck drivers will no longer have to file daily reports after routine pre- and post-trip inspections if there aren’t safety defects or maintenance concerns, the U.S. Transportation Department said. A final regulation being issued today will take effect Dec. 18, ending a requirement implemented by the Interstate Commerce Commission during the Truman era in 1952.
President Barack Obama challenged federal agencies in a 2011 executive order to identify rules that are “outmoded, insufficient or excessively burdensome.” The reports on trucks without safety problems fit the target of red tape and waste, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in an interview.
“This is one of the leading paperwork regulations in government right now,” Foxx said. “We have put this rule through the paces, and we’re satisfied there will be no reduction in safety.”
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About 95 percent of the current inspection reports indicate no safety concerns, according to the Transportation Department. Truck drivers spend about 46.7 million hours a year completing those reports, the department said. The time saved would be worth about $1.7 billion a year to the industry, according to the department.
Free from filing the reports, drivers should be able to stay focused on their jobs and the safety of everyone else on the road, Scott Darling, acting chief of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, said in a statement.
The American Trucking Associations, while supportive of the effort, questioned the estimated economic benefit. About 40 percent of the 600,000 to 800,000 electronic data recorders in use by the industry have the means to file driver reports electronically, the Arlington, Virginia-based trade group said.
About 35 percent of the group’s members said they would continue filing reports even without a regulation, saying they help to maintain effective maintenance.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, a Washington-based watchdog group, urged the Transportation Department to continue to require the reports as a daily reminder to drivers to be on the lookout for potential maintenance problems.
“We have to make sure, where there are rules that are burdensome and don’t add to the bottom line on safety, that we’re clear-eyed enough to be in a position to relieve those burdens,” Foxx said.
Commercial drivers who operate passenger-carrying buses will still have to file the inspection reports in all cases, even if there’s no defect or maintenance issue.