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American Shipper

OOIDA sues to block federal truck safety rule

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says requiring electronic logging devices on vehicles doesn’t improve safety and is unconstitutional.

   The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), representing about 157,000 small truckers, on Wednesday filed an appeal in federal court seeking to block the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from implementing a new rule requiring interstate motor carriers to install electronic logging devices (ELDs) in their vehicles.
   The trade association said the mandate doesn’t advance safety, is “arbitrary and capricious” and violates the 4th amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures.
   “The agency provided no proof of their claims that this mandate would improve highway safety. They didn’t even attempt to compare the safety records of trucking companies that use ELDs and those that do not,” OOIDA President Jim Johnston said in a statement. “There is simply no proof that the costs, burdens and privacy infringements associated with this mandate are justified.
   “For most truckers, a truck is not just a vehicle but is also an office and a home away from home,” he added. “This mandate means monitoring the movement and activities of real people for law enforcement purposes and is an outrageous intrusion of the privacy of professional truckers.”
   Under federal hours-of-service regulations, commercial truck drivers are limited in the number of hours they can work and drive daily as well as on a weekly basis. The FMCSA’s mandate requires that truck drivers use ELDs to track their driving and non-driving activities. ELDs automatically record driving time, engine hours, vehicle movement, miles driven, and location information.
   The FMCSA finalized the rule in December for all interstate commercial motor vehicles model year 2000 and newer. Companies have two years to comply.
   FMSCA estimates the ELD final rule will prevent 26 fatalities and 562 injuries resulting from crashes involving large commercial motor vehicles every year on average. Large motor carriers, mostly represented by the American Trucking Associations, support the rule because of concerns that mom-and-pop truckers cheat on recording work hours in their logbooks to run longer and make more money. Larger companies, which also have greater resources to install the technology, say the rule creates an even playing field.
   OOIDA also pointed out that the mandate fails to comply with a congressional statute requiring ELDs to accurately and automatically record changes in drivers’ duty status. ELDs can only track vehicle movement and must rely on drivers to manually input changes in duty status. OOIDA contends the mandated devices are no more reliable than paper logbooks for recording hours of service compliance.
   On the issue of searches and seizures, OOIDA said the Supreme Court has previously found that prolonged use of a warrantless GPS tracking device on a vehicle is clearly a search within the meaning of the 4th amendment.
   It said that FMCSA’s attempt to compel installation of ELD devices without a warrant is an unconstitutional seizure.
   The association also said the current mandate fails to ensure that ELDs will not be used to harass drivers.