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ATA Sides With Feds on Electronic Truck Log Recorders

2012-03-01 20:07:14

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Owner-Operator Independent Drivers challenge FCMSA policies

The American Trucking Associations is siding with regulators in federal court to support voluntary use of electronic onboard recorders by trucking companies.

The ATA filed an amicus brief Feb. 24 with the U.S. Court of Appeals supporting the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s defense of electronic logging. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers is challenging FMCSA’s policies on the use of EOBRs by trucking companies in the appellate court.

The OOIDA last August successfully challenged an FMCSA final rule that would have required some carriers to install EOBRs to monitor drivers’ hours of service. The court sent the rule back to FMCSA, ordering it to address whether trucking companies could use EOBRs to harass drivers and how to prevent such harassment.

OOIDA, in a motion filed in court in January, argues FMCSA must stop encouraging voluntarily use of EOBRs by carriers to monitor driver work hours.

“There is no longer a provision in the rules for the adoption of a device called an ‘EOBR,’ either under agency mandate or voluntarily,” OOIDA told FMCSA.

Since U.S. Appeals Court struck the 2010 rule, the current rules on onboard recorders date back to 1988 and do not use the term EOBR for the equipment. But the ATA and FMCSA argue devices meeting that rule’s standards are legitimate — whether they are called EOBRs or automatic onboard recording devices.

If the court accepts OOIDA’s argument, carriers would have to return to paper logs and lose money already invested in the onboard technology, the ATA said.

The motion and petition are the latest feints in a long fight over EOBRs, with larger companies and the ATA siding with those who would mandate their use. The ATA claims requiring EOBRs would bring safety benefits by helping to enforce federal truck driver hours of service more accurately and effectively.

The OOIDA claims the devices as they exist wouldn’t accomplish that goal, and that a mandate would violate privacy rights and lead to driver harassment.

The FMCSA is still working on a broad regulatory mandate for the use of EOBRs on trucks and says it will address driver harassment in that rulemaking.