Court of Appeals Upholds ELD Rule

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit denied the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association’s (OOIDA) challenge to the Department of Transportation’s rule mandating electronic logging devices on commercial trucks.

OOIDA had asked the court to vacate the rule arguing that: ELDs will not record enough information automatically; the rule fails to protect drivers sufficiently from harassment; fails to protect the confidentiality of personal data collected, and violates the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. The group also argued that benefits will not outweigh costs.

In denying the challenge, a three judge panel of the Appeals Court wrote that the group's "reading of the statute seeks to pit one statutory requirement against another rather than allow the agency to balance competing policy goals endorsed by Congress."

The judges also wrote that FMCSA sought comment from a range of sources when defining "harassment" in the rule and "ultimately provided a reasonable definition of the term."

OOIDA said it is reviewing next steps so that it can continue its challenge against the regulation.

FMCSA on Dec. 10, 2015, issued its Final Electronic-Logging Device Rule (ELD), mandating the use of technology by commercial drivers to log their hours of service (HOS) data effective December 2017.

Drivers who begin using an ELD will no longer be required to keep and maintain paper logs, but will be required to maintain supporting documentation – such as shipping documents and fuel purchase receipts -- for carriers or owner-operators to keep on file. It is estimated that about 3 million drivers will be impacted.

The rule applies to all trucks operating in interstate commerce and subject to the hours-of-service regulations, except for pre-2000 model year trucks. Carriers that install a compliant advanced onboard recording device (AONRD) prior to the compliance date have the option to continue using that device for an additional two years following the December 2017 compliance deadline.

The use of ELDs has long been a divisive issue for the trucking industry as fleets and owner-operators disagreed over the merits of switching to automated log books from paper and pencil. Unlike OOIDA, which views the rule as regulatory over-reach, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) thinks the rule will further enhance industry safety.

OOIDA has long held that electronic logs will allow dispatchers to pressure drivers to stay on the road. OOIDA challenged the Department of Transportation’s 2010 final rule mandating electronic onboard recorders in a federal appeals court and won in 2011.

In issuing the final rule, FMCSA said it provides both procedural and technical provisions designed to protect commercial truck drivers from harassment resulting from information generated by ELDs.

The ELD rule sets technology specifications detailing performance and design requirements for ELDs so that manufacturers can produce compliant devices and systems.

Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman's photo

Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman

Tiffany Wlazlowski Neuman develops and executes communications strategies to advance NATSO’s public relations and advocacy goals. Tiffany also develops and oversees partnerships related to the NATSO Foundation’s public outreach initiatives. Tiffany lives in the D.C. metro area with her husband and their two sons.More
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