New trucking regs call for electronic records

Trucking companies would be allowed to maintain electronic records as opposed to paper records under new rules from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). 

The agency announced Thursday it is considering a rule that would allow trucking companies to use electronic methods to sign and certify records, in the agency's latest effort to go digital.

The rule would apply to contracts and other legally required documents, the agency noted.

"Recognizing that many businesses and individuals can achieve greater efficiencies using electronic methods, but that others prefer paper-based recordkeeping, FMCSA decided to give regulated entities the flexibility to choose which methods to use," the agency wrote in the Federal Register.

This comes after the FMCSA last month announced new performance standards for truck drivers who file their hours-of-service records electronically. 

The rules are part of an effort by the Obama administration to reduce the paperwork burden that can cost industry and government organizations millions to comply with each year.

The FMCSA said the rule was intended to provide "regulatory relief" to the industry.

"In recent years, FMCSA has received a number of requests from motor carriers and other interested parties asking permission to use electronic methods to comply with various agency regulations that require motor carriers and individuals to generate, sign and store documents," the agency wrote.

"Previously, FMCSA made determinations on a case-by-case basis as to whether certain categories of documents could be generated, signed or stored electronically," it added.

But this rule only applies to the trucking companies' internal records. They would still be required to send paper copies of forms that must be submitted to the FMCSA.

The public has 60 days to comment.