A final rule that would mandate the use of electronic logging devices in all commercial trucks has made its way to the White House for final review.
If approved by the Office of Management and Budget, publication of the rule in the Federal Register could happen as soon as Sept. 30. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration sent the rule to OMB on Thursday, July 30, for a cost-benefit review.
In addition to mandating e-logs, the rule will also establish minimum performance and design standards for the logging devices; requirements on supporting documents drivers have to retain; and measures to address concerns about harassment resulting from the mandatory use of the devices.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has long been opposed to the mandated use of electronic logging devices. Research fails to prove that the electronic devices improve highway safety or hours-of-service compliance over the use of paper logs. The devices cannot distinguish off-duty not-driving and on-duty not-driving activities, thereby rendering the devices useless in determining actual compliance with the regulations.
Scott Grenerth, OOIDA director of regulatory affairs, said a rule that puts the emphasis on electronic monitoring doesn’t touch the core problem of hours-of-service enforcement.
“This is still something that’s been pushed by fleets, which must use ELDs for them to operate within their own business model,” he said. “And that business model includes strict monitoring of the drivers, who have minimal training.”
Grenerth said the Association will “definitely be sharing with OMB the way FMCSA has distorted facts and figures in order to justify this rulemaking.”
“We hope that they will address our concerns,” he said. “It would be awfully refreshing to see the agency putting in equal effort into addressing driver detention and coercion, rather than just going after every possible way they can tighten down on enforcement.”
Even if the final rule is published as expected at the end of September, Grenerth said implementation would likely take two to three years to phase in. In that time, the agency may have petitions for reconsideration and even legal challenges to fight the mandate.
“OOIDA is definitely going to be considering all options at all stages of this rulemaking,” he said.
The Association has already successfully thwarted a limited mandate that would have required the use of electronic logs by motor carriers with serious hours-of-service noncompliance. In that legal challenge, the Association presented three arguments to the court, which only got through consideration of the first argument – harassment via the devices – when it vacated the rule and forced the agency to withdraw the mandate. The remaining two arguments, a Fourth Amendment-based warrantless search argument and that the cost-benefit analysis fails to prove worth of the mandated use of the devices, have yet to even be tried in court.