You win some you lose some…
On October 31st, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled against the Owner Operators Independent Driver Association (OOIDA) and their recent court challenge against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and their Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate. The ruling came, faster than expected, only 6 weeks from the initial appeal on September 13th, 2016.
OOIDA’s President and CEO Jim Johnston said the Association is disappointed and strongly disagrees with the court’s ruling. “Because this issue is of vital importance to our members and all small-business truckers,” said Johnston, “we are reviewing our next steps to continue our challenge against this regulation.”
What is an ELD?
Electronic Logging Devices, or ELD’s, are an electronic solution that enables professional truck drivers and commercial motor carriers to easily track Hours of Service (HOS) compliance. ELD’s are an upgrade to current automatic on-board recording devices (AOBRD) that track a driver’s Record of Duty Status (RODS).
In 2012, the United States Congress enacted the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century” bill, more commonly referred to as MAP-21. Within that bill was a requirement that the FMCSA develop a rule mandating the use of Electronic Logging Devices. The mandate requires that commercial truck drivers upgrade from current Record of Duty Status (RODS) and Hours of Service (HOS) systems to ELD’s, in order to comply with HOS regulations.
The OOIDA Appeal
In mid-September, 2016, the OOIDA argued their case against the Department of Transportation to have the ELD Mandate overturned. The argument was based around five points: ELDs will not record enough information automatically due to human involvement in the process; the rule fails to protect from harassment because the term “driver harassment” is not sufficiently defined; the benefits will not outweigh it’s costs because the FMCSA analysis was flawed; the rule fails to protect the confidentiality of personal data collected by ELDs; the mandate violates the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable search and seizures.
- The rule is contrary to law because it permits ELDs that are not entirely automatic: “Petitioners’ 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 decision summarizes.
- The agency used too narrow a definition of “harassment” that will not sufficiently protect drivers: “When defining harassment, the agency sought input from drivers, motor carriers, and trade organizations; it considered administrative factors; and it ultimately provided a reasonable definition of the term.”
- The agency’s cost‐benefit analysis was inadequate and fails to justify implementation of the ELD rule “The agency did not need to conduct a cost‐benefit analysis for this rule, which was mandated by Congress. Even if such analysis were required, the studies were adequate.”
- The agency did not sufficiently consider confidentiality protections for drivers. “The agency, however, adopted a reasonable approach to protect drivers in this regard.”
- The ELD mandate imposes, in effect, an unconstitutional search and/or seizure on truck drivers. “We find no Fourth Amendment violation. Whether or not the rule itself imposes a search or a seizure, inspection of data recorded on an ELD would fall within the “pervasively regulated industry” exception to the warrant requirement. The agency’s administrative inspection scheme for such information is reasonable.”
So while the OOIDA reviews its options, motor carriers who have been waiting for the outcome of this court case should renew their efforts in seeking options for the now looming December 2017 deadline for ELD compliance. Canadian only motor carriers can also expect Transport Canada to move swiftly ahead with their own ELD ruling in the near future