The Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to consider a review of a lower court’s denial of the trade group’s challenge to the Department of Transportation’s rule mandating electronic logging devices in commercial trucks.
OOIDA filed the petition April 13 seeking a review of an October ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit when a three judge panel 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.
In its petition to the Supreme Court, OOIDA also asks the court to determine whether the ELD rule violated the Fourth Amendment by failing to establish a regulatory structure at the state and federal levels that serves as a substitute for a warrant.
“We were very disappointed and surprised by the ruling against us by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals,” OOIDA President Jim Johnston said in announcing that the association had filed the petition. “That same court had ruled in our favor on a previous lawsuit of ours on this same issue.”
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.
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. Unlike OOIDA, which views the rule as regulatory over-reach, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) thinks the rule will further enhance industry safety.
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.
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