SPECIAL REPORT: OOIDA takes 'black box' rule to court

By Jami Jones, senior editor | 6/4/2010

Friday, June 4, 2010 – The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association filed kickoff paperwork for a legal challenge of the impending electronic on-board recorder regulation.

The Association and three members filed a petition for review with the United State Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit on June 3. In addition to OOIDA, the plaintiffs include OOIDA Members William J. Culligan, Adam D. Burnett and Douglas A. Oldham.

The final rule under challenge mandates that motor carriers with a 10 percent or greater occurrence of non-compliance with hours of service regulations in a single compliance review will be subject to mandated use of the electronic devices for two years.

“At this particular point the agency is moving ahead, with what they would call a relatively small handful of bad actors,” Spencer said. “That doesn’t mean tomorrow they won’t say ‘the world’ – and it also means that Congress could do the same thing.”

The agency, in fact, has kept a broader EOBR mandate on its regulatory agenda and reiterated its intention to move forward by the end of the year in recent regulatory guidance issued by the agency on hours-of-service supporting document requirements.

In that guidance, the agency states its intention to propose that EOBRs be required for “considerably more motor carriers and drivers.”

Spencer said that before FMCSA or Congress moves forward with any sort of broader mandate, the Association believes questions such as does the mandated use of electronic on-board recorders make any sense in terms of cost, regulatory burden and their real effectiveness on highway safety must be answered.

“We’re laying down a marker in the court and saying ‘show it, prove it,’ ” Spencer said.

The court will set a schedule for briefs and filings for arguments.

The EOBR rule officially went into effect June 4. The compliance deadline for the regulation is June 4, 2012.

“Once the regulation is ‘on the books,’ affected carriers are allowed a two-year period to come into compliance. Starting June 4, 2012, and thereafter, affected carriers found to be non-compliant will be subject to the full force of applicable sanctions and penalties for violating that particular Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation,” FMCSA spokesman Duane DeBruyne told Land Line.

“This window is intended to allow affected carriers to research and select products and vendors, train drivers, make business plans for the financial outlays required for equipment and service, etc.”

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