October 31, 2016 5:15 PM, EDT

OOIDA Loses Appeal in ELD Case

Rand McNally
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit denied the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s challenge to the federal electronic logging device mandate Oct. 31.

OOIDA had asked the court to vacate the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s final rule, which was issued in December 2015 and is scheduled to go into effect Dec. 17, 2017.

The court knocked down each of OOIDA’s five main arguments.

“Petitioners claim … that the final rule is contrary to law because it permits ELDs that are not entirely automatic,” the court said in its 28-page opinion. “We disagree. … Petitioners argue that the agency used too narrow a definition of ‘harassment’ that will not sufficiently protect drivers. This claim also fails. When defining harassment, the agency sought input from drivers, motor carriers and trade organizations; it considered administrative factors; and it ultimately provided a reasonable definition of the term.”

The court continued, “Petitioners argue that the agency’s cost-benefit analysis was inadequate and fails to justify implementation of the ELD rule. However, the agency did not need to conduct a cost-benefit analysis for this rule. … Petitioners argue that the agency did not sufficiently consider confidentiality protections for drivers. The agency, however, adopted a reasonable approach to protect drivers in this regard. [Finally,] petitioners argue that the ELD mandate imposes, in effect, an unconstitutional search and/or seizure on truck drivers. We find no Fourth Amendment violation.”

OOIDA President Jim Johnston disagreed.

“We are disappointed and strongly disagree with the court’s ruling,” Johnston said in a statement. “Because this issue is of vital importance to our members and all small-business truckers, we are reviewing our next steps to continue our challenge against this regulation.”

FMCSA spokesman Duane DeBruyne declined to comment after the ruling.

However, in the agency’s 60-page brief that was filed June 15, FMCSA said, “The electronic logging device would provide certain pieces of driver-unalterable data, which would complicate the process of falsifying driving hours.”

In that same brief, FMCSA said that it adopted several technical provisions to guard against driver harassment and added that the improved hours-of-service compliance achieved through ELDs would annually result in 1,844 fewer crashes, 26 lives saved and 562 injuries avoided.

The ELD mandate recently climbed to the No. 1 position on the American Transportation Research Institute’s ranking of the top issues in the industry.

"ATA is pleased that the court has cleared the way for this important regulation and we look forward to its implementation," said Sean McNally, vice president of public affairs and press secretary for American Trucking Associations.