The trade group representing small truck fleets and owner operators said today that it wants a rehearing of a fcderal appeals court panel's October decision upholding the legality of requiring electronic logging devices be installed in every truck by the end of next year. Only this time the group wants the entire appellate court to hear the case.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) said in a statement that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), the sub-agency of the Department of Transportation that wrote the rules, has failed to make a strong case for mandating ELDs, and has been unable to show why use of the devices doesn't violate a driver's Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures by requiring the prolonged use of a GPS device without a warrant.
Todd Spencer, OOIDA's executive vice president, said the issues raised by the group warrant a "full review" by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals because of their broad legal ramifications. Spencer didn't specify which issues meet that criterion, but it can be assumed the constitutional issue is at or near the head of the list.
OOIDA had prevailed in a 2011 legal challenge against ELDs after the same court vacated the FMCSA rule on grounds it didn't include sufficient safeguards against using the equipment to harass drivers. FMCSA issued a revised final rule in December 2015 that it claimed had adequately addressed that issue. However, OOIDA has remained dubious about the value of any additional protections. The group has argued that ELDs are only designed to track a vehicle's movement and location, not a driver's whereabouts, and as such are no more reliable than the traditional paper logs—whose use the ELD mandate would end—to record compliance with federal hours-of-service regulations.
FMCSA estimated in late 2015 that about 3.4 million drivers would be affected by the ELD mandate. Many large truckers have already installed ELDs, but smaller operators and independent drivers have held back, concerned about compliance costs and uncertain about which way the legal winds would blow. About 20 to 40 percent of all trucks now have ELDs, according to industry estimates.
Publicly traded truckload carriers have estimated that ELD compliance could remove between 4 and 8 percent of capacity as small carriers and solo drivers exit the market due to higher costs and more rigorous hours-of-service monitoring. However, analysts have said the mandate will not have a significant impact on truck supply during 2017 as many carriers currently not in compliance will hold back until the tail end of the year.
OOIDA President Jim Johnston has called the ELD mandate the most far-reaching regulation in the trucking industry's history.