Black boxes: OOIDA ups the ante

By Jami Jones
senior editor


When OOIDA filed last-minute paperwork for a legal challenge of the EOBR regs earlier this summer, it was a surprise for some. There was even speculation OOIDA suddenly “changed its position” on how far it would go to fight a mandate.

In truth, I think what was happening was more like a high-stakes game of regulatory poker.

OOIDA – with years of experience, excellent intelligence in DC, and an innate sense of when to show its cards – has long suspected that more than just “bad actors” would be saddled with EOBRs. The agency has signaled in numerous ways during the past five years that it is under pressure to mandate a much broader rule. That pressure comes from the National Transportation Safety Board, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Road Safe America, PATT and others.

And OOIDA knows that certain influential lawmakers are keenly interested in a mandate from Congress. OOIDA is also aware that more big carriers, for whatever reason, have incorporated EOBRs into their operations – making comments like “let’s level the playing field,” which really means creating a disproportionate regulatory burden for small-business competitors.

On June 3, OOIDA upped the ante, filing a petition for review with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.

There was no way the Association was going to stand by and let FMCSA push forward on a mandate that could prove expensive and invasive for its members until some hard questions were asked and answered.

During the same week that OOIDA filed suit, FMCSA showed another card, discreetly but publicly. Buried in some regulatory guidance outlining the supporting documents that truckers with EOBRs would need to produce was a mention of the expanded mandate. This new language made FMCSA’s intention very clear.

The regulatory guidance stated that a notice of proposed rulemaking will be issued by FMCSA that will be “proposing that EOBRs be required for considerably more motor carriers and drivers.” LL