Photo: Continental VDO

Photo: Continental VDO

While several trucking lobbies are applauding the court ruling that upholds a Congressional mandate to require electronic logging devices, the association that had sued to overturn the pending ELD rule has not yet given up the fight. 

The Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association had argued strongly in its March filing with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit that the ELD rule would violate truck drivers’ rights to privacy under the Fourth Amendment.

In denying OOIDA’s petition for judicial review, the court ruled on Oct. 31 that the ELD rule is “not arbitrary or capricious, nor does it violate the Fourth Amendment” provisions against unreasonable searches and seizures.

However, the court’s crystalline opinion has not convinced OOIDA that it has done all it can to quash the ELD rule. The association does have the option of appealing the appellate court's decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“We are disappointed and strongly disagree with the court’s ruling,” OOIDA President and CEO Jim Johnston said in a statement. “Because this issue is of vital importance to our members and all small business truckers, we are reviewing our next steps to continue our challenge against this regulation.”

The court decision means the final ELD rule, published last December by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, remains on track to go into effect starting on Dec. 18, 2017.

The American Trucking Associations, which has championed the adoption of ELDs, was cheered by the court’s decision. “ATA is pleased that the court has cleared the way for this important regulation and we look forward to its implementation," said Sean McNally, ATA spokesperson.

The Truckload Carriers Association also supports the decision, which it pointed out “mirrors TCA’s own ELD policy, established by its Regulatory Policy Committee and approved by the Board of Directors in 2011.”

“I can remember a time when we referred to this technology as electronic on-board recorders and opposed them,” said TCA Chairman Russell Stubbs. “However, our members, being the innovators that they are, recognized the need for such technology, tested it, adopted it, and became leaders in a field that has placed safety and compliance at the forefront. We applaud the court’s decision in helping to level the playing field and getting ELDs another step closer to being placed in every truck on our roadways.”

David Heller, TCA vice president of government affairs, said that “TCA members have always been proactive in adopting technology that can aid in motor carrier compliance, so I know that the majority of them will be ahead of the curve when it comes to adopting ELD equipment. We will enjoy focusing on what’s next in trucking technology that will truly have a positive effect on motor carrier and driver safety.”

TCA noted that the court’s decision does not change the rule’s exemption for pre-2000 MY trucks and that, after Dec.16, 2019, all drivers and carriers subject to the rule must use certified, registered ELDs that comply with requirements of the ELD rule.

The Alliance for Driver Safety & Security (aka the Trucking Alliance) went so far as to declare that the court decision “clears the way for a new era in the freight transportation industry,” noting that the ruling “virtually assures" that all interstate freight carriers must install ELDs" and thus will provide law enforcement with "a more accurate way to verify compliance with drivers’ on-duty driving time.”

The Trucking Alliance said a key aspect of the Seventh Court’s ruling was that the three-judge panel frequently cited the import it lent to Congress having mandated ELDs back in 2012, including their statement that “requiring ELDs was not left to the discretion of the agency; Congress mandated it.” 

Because Congress mandated ELDs “rather than relying on FMCSA to simply promulgate a rulemaking, gave this issue much more weight,” said Lane Kidd, the Alliance’s managing director. “Congress mandating ELDs will prove to be the pivotal point that changed the trucking industry for the better and [began] a new era of safety and compliance.”

“ELDs, when embraced by our industry, will improve commercial highway safety,” said Reggie Dupré, president and CEO of Dupré Logistics and secretary/treasurer of the Trucking Alliance as well as a former chair of the American Trucking Associations’ Safety Policy Committee. “ELDs are another technology that assists our drivers in their effort to be safe and reduce accidents.”

About the author
David Cullen

David Cullen

Executive Editor

Executive Editor David Cullen comments on the positive and negative factors impacting trucking – from the latest government regulations and policy initiatives coming out of Washington DC to the array of business and societal pressures that also determine what truck-fleet managers must do to ensure their operations keep on driving ahead.

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