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Federal Update
OOIDA slams mandatory EOBRs; privacy, safety issues top concerns

By Coral Beach
Land Line staff

Using strong language and citing case law, OOIDA filed comments opposing government-mandated black boxes for trucks, and suggested that carriers and brokers are major causes of hours-of-service violations.

In the 53-page comment filed Nov. 30, 2004, OOIDA and its president, Jim Johnston, flatly told the federal government that mandating electronic on-board recorders would not only be unconstitutional, but that it would not provide any more accurate records of HOS compliance than existing paper logs do.

“As OOIDA has been telling the (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) for years, it is the on-duty, not driving demands of carriers, brokers and shippers that put the greatest pressure on drivers to violate the HOS rules,” the association’s official comments stated.

“Because an EOBR will rely on driver input to have a full record of a driver’s activities, it provides no more accurate a record of a driver’s HOS compliance than paper logs, and will have little effect on the demands placed on drivers by carriers to exceed the HOS rules.”

OOIDA filed the comments in response to a request for comments by the FMCSA.

OOIDA opposes the mandatory use of EOBRs on several counts. One important concern is the potential cost to drivers.

The association is also concerned that carriers could use EOBRs as a tool to force drivers to operate beyond their physical or legal ability.

Another concern is that the mandatory use of EOBRs would violate the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution because the devices would constitute an illegal search and violate individuals’ rights to privacy.

“It is difficult to see how anyone would consider mandating the use of EOBRs, with all of the accompanying costs and privacy issues, when the device itself cannot accomplish its primary purpose of ensuring compliance with the hours-of-service regulations without including input from drivers, the supposed Achilles’ heel of paper logs,” the association wrote in its formal comments to the government.

Citing several Supreme Court cases that support its position, OOIDA said mandatory EOBRs create “substantially greater” intrusion than checkpoint searches.

“EOBRs are instruments used by government actors to conduct a suspicionless search in clear violation of the standards set forth” in case law.

coral_beach@landlinemag.com