The biggest battle over ELDs will be in the courtroom

By Sandi Soendker, editor-in-chief

Digging through my old files, I came upon a long-forgotten article from Traffic World dated Dec. 11, 2000. Writer John D. Schulz's headline was "Class Warfare: OOIDA to Sue if Government Mandates On-Board Recorders."

It quotes OOIDA President Jim Johnston declaring the mandate unconstitutional. Jim's quotes from this 15-year-old news article include a few expletives, something he is more careful to avoid when he talks to the press now. But the message has not changed one iota. Not a bit, not a smidgen, not a crumb.

Back then, the electronic log was called a black box, or onboard recorder. Later that evolved to electronic onboard recorder (EOBR) and now it's an electronic logging device (ELD). No matter what it's called, Schulz's description of how OOIDA and truckers feel about being forced to use them instead of paper logs is the same. Except for the government's old mandatory drug testing program, he writes, no proposal affecting trucking is "causing more venom."

Schulz's analysis: "Basically the government is telling truckers they don't trust them enough to believe paper logbooks any longer."

Jim Johnston's quoted remarks: "Are we to assume that every document we use in this country is subject to falsification? Are we going to impose electronic surveillance on everyone to ensure every official document is legal?"

Schulz's prediction: "If the government mandates black boxes on a Monday, you can be sure that OOIDA will be in court filing its lawsuit on a Tuesday."

Although that forecast was made 15 years ago, Schulz accurately pegged Johnston as a man of action and a man of his word. In December 2015, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration unveiled regulations requiring most U.S. truck drivers to use ELDs. In the second legal challenge of ELDs, the Association's attorneys were ready the next day to file a petition to review.

Jim said it then and says it now: The biggest battle over the ELDs will be in the courtroom. Stay tuned. LL