The Institute first petitioned the federal government in 1986 to require recorders in large trucks to monitor driving hours and enforce work rules. But this was rebuffed, and the next year the government refused to reconsider its denial. Two years later, the government refused to require recorders in large trucks carrying hazardous cargo. Another recorder petition was denied in 1995 (see "Put onboard recorders in trucks, Institute and others tell FHWA again," Aug. 12, 1995). Even repeated recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board to require recorders didn't spur a mandate.
In 2000 the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration did propose to require recorders, saying they would supply "a more effective form of the self-monitoring and reporting drivers have been required to perform for many decades in the form of paper records." But this proposal never became a federal requirement, even after a U.S. appeals court told the agency in 2004 that its attempt to back off from a recorder requirement reflected "questionable rationality."
The result is that drivers still record their hours in handwritten logbooks, which often are falsified. Meanwhile, the European Union requires recorders in truck rigs. It also sets shorter work hours than for U.S. truckers.