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8/29/2011 2:00:00 PM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Appeals Court Throws Out EOBR Rule

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s electronic onboard recorder 2010 final rule for motor carriers with significant hours-of-service violations does not protect truck drivers from potential harassment by their employers, a federal appeals court has ruled.

Siding with three truck drivers and the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association, a panel of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Aug. 26 vacated and remanded the rule back to the agency for further proceedings.

American Trucking Associations President Bill Graves said in a statement that while ATA is still reviewing the court’s decision, it supports FMCSA’s efforts to mandate the adoption and use of electronic logging devices for hours-of-service compliance.

“We hope FMCSA will work quickly to address the Court’s decision and the important device design and performance specifications being evaluated by the Administrator’s Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee,” Graves said.

The appeals court said the agency’s EOBR mandate for carriers with past HOS problems, set to go into effect in June 2012, does not adequately address or ensure that carriers could not use the devices to force drivers to stay on the road even when they are tired.

“The agency needs to consider what types of harassment already exist, how frequently and to what extent harassment happens, and how an electronic device capable of contemporaneous transmission of information to a motor carrier will guard against (or fail to guard against) harassment,” the court said.

Although the court decision specifically addresses the 2010 final rule, FMCSA also will also likely have to bring into compliance its Jan. 31 proposed rule mandating that nearly all motor carriers equip their trucks with EOBRs, said Robert Digges, ATA’s chief counsel.

“I think that the general direction by Congress to consider the issue of driver harassment is applicable to that rulemaking as well as the earlier one,” Digges said.

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