ELD LAWSUIT: Date set for oral arguments over e-log mandate

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line associate editor | 7/22/2016

The lawsuit brought by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association seeking to overturn the mandate requiring truckers to use electronic logs will have its day in court in September.

Oral arguments in the case have been scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Sept. 13, in the main courtroom of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago, according to a July 21 court filing.

OOIDA filed suit against the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Dec. 11, 2015, the day after FMCSA published the final rule mandating that all trucks model year 2000 and newer be equipped with electronic logging devices by Dec. 18, 2017. Logging devices and automatic on-board recorders currently approved for use in tracking hours of service will be allowed for four years beyond the December 2017 deadline.

The Association is seeking a petition of review of the rule and the procedures the agency followed in arriving at the rule. A successful review can result in all or part of a rule being overturned.

Two trucking-related groups along with a third group attempting to push the mandate forward filed briefs last month siding with the FMCSA on the mandate.

The American Trucking Associations and The Trucking Alliance, both Washington, D.C.-based large motor carrier interest groups, have filed amici curiae or “friend of the court” briefs with the court. The Trucking Alliance was joined by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety in their brief.

The three groups offered arguments siding with FMCSA and a full electronic log mandate. Those arguments center on the devices supposedly offering improved compliance with hours of service and reducing fatigue-related crashes. OOIDA’s position is that there is insufficient evidence of a correlation between e-logs and improved safety.

Jim Johnston, president of the Association, recently said the arguments for electronic logs benefit large motor carriers at the expense of privacy rights for drivers.

Johnston has said that quest for efficiency and ease of management has backfired over the years with record-high turnover of drivers who refused to agree to the monitoring and schedules dictated by companies using the devices.

“The problem they have is drivers weren’t going along with it. They weren't signing onto those companies. So the companies want to level the playing field – in their words. You force everybody to have them and the drivers aren’t going to have any choice,” Johnston said.

OOIDA’s fight against electronic logs goes far beyond logistics on the road, according to Johnston.

“It is extremely important, because it involves Constitutional rights of truckers. If they can do this they can do just about anything,” Johnston said. “We don’t think they can, and we don’t think they can get away with it. And we certainly do not intend to let them get away with this one.”

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