The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration currently exercises its full authority under 49 USC 504(c) to include the examination of GPS or other advanced technology records in the normal course of investigations of carrier compliance with its regulations. This helps the agency enforce its safety regulations, prevent truck accidents and keep our roadways safe. However, the use of data from GPS and other advanced technologies only became fully available for use by investigators on December 24, 2008 with the issuance of a memorandum by FMSCA that rescinded a policy dating back to 1997.
The 1997 policy entitled, “Policy on Use of Advanced Information Technology,” limited investigators use of advanced data in their reviews. This was meant to encourage the use of such technologies by carriers without the threat that data gathered by the technologies could be used against them in reviews. The strategy worked and now GPS and other advanced information technologies are common throughout the industry.
The new policy gives FMCSA full authority to request and examine records from GPS or other technologies during an investigation. Such data is critical to enforcement of FMCSA regulations, particularly 49 CFR 395.8, which requires a motor carrier to maintain record-of-duty status (RODS) information for each driver it employs. Such information is critical in the enforcement of Hours of Service regulations for drivers – regulations shown to have direct impact on reducing truck accidents. Any carrier that maintains GPS records but refuses to provide those records during an investigation would then be required to follow the “Denial of Access Policy” also dated December 24, 2008.
GPS and other advanced technologies have become key to the industry’s safety management systems and this policy shift by FMCSA is good news.