After repeated setbacks, the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has ruled in favor of a rule that would require 18 wheelers to have electronic logging devices (ELD). Per the appeals court case Fleet Owner, the new ELD mandate will begin to be implemented in December 2017. As of December 18, 2017, truckers nationwide will no longer be able to use paper logs and will instead be required to use electronic logging devices. Trucking logbooks are meant to keep truck drivers from violating hours of service rules, which can lead to drowsy driving-related truck accidents.
These rules were enacted to prevent truck accidents due to truckers driving too long without rest. In some cases, truck drivers or trucking companies have falsified paper logbooks to break hours of service regulations without getting caught. Many truck drivers are paid by mileage or have strict deadlines for pickups and deliveries. Therefore, despite the danger it poses to truckers and anyone they share the road with, falsifying logbooks can enable them to drive longer than they’re supposed to, which can allow them to drive more miles, meet tight deadlines and make more money.
ELDs will make it much more difficult for truckers and trucking companies to tamper with logbook entries. Electronic logging devices will automatically enter much of the information that truckers currently have to enter by hand. In addition, GPS systems within ELDs will enable them to keep an accurate record of where 18-wheelers are, how long they’ve been driving and how far they’ve traveled. Having this information updated automatically and in real time could go a long way toward keeping truckers off the road when there are too tired to be behind the wheel.
WHY IS THE OOIDA AGAINST THE NEW E-LOG RULE?
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) along with two truck drivers fought against the ELD mandate, which led to the appeal. This is not the first time that the OOIDA has challenged an ELD mandate. An appeals court ruled in favor of the OOIDA when it challenged a previous version of the ELD rule. In that appeal, the OOIDA argued that the ELD mandate as constructed at the time did not protect truckers against harassment. By harassment, the OOIDA was referring to privacy concerns truckers have, because of how closely ELDs keep track of them.
In its most recent appeal of the ruling, the OOIDA raised the following arguments:
- OOIDA claimed that ELD authorizes unconstitutional search and seizures on truckers.
- The definition of harassment in the ELD mandate is too narrow, which leaves truckers unprotected from privacy violations.
- The ELD rule contradicts other trucking laws by allowing the use of electronic logging devices that are not completely automatic.
- The ELD mandate does not include enough considerations regarding the protection of truck drivers’ confidentiality.
- The cost-benefit analysis of the electronic logging device rule does not justify implementing the program.
The court rejected all the OOIDA’s claims, paving the way for the ELD mandate to move forward. It remains to be seen whether requiring electronic logging devices will truly help prevent truck accidents or not.
“Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.” – Acts 20:28
Nashville truck accident attorney Stanley A. Davis has been successfully fighting for the rights of victims injured due to the negligence of truckers and trucking companies since 1997.