GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) is lauding a US court decision that has scrapped the US FMCSA’s limited electronic on-board recorder (EOBR) mandate over fears the devices could be used to harass drivers.
The US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit agreed with OOIDA’s position that requiring some carriers to use EOBRs could subject those carriers’ drivers to pressure to drive when tired.
“Companies can and do use technology to harass drivers by interrupting rest periods,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice-president of OOIDA. “This decision not only dealt with the issue of harassment, but the court also made it clear there were other aspects of the rule they believed problematic.”
The rule in question would see carriers with a 10% hours-of-service non-compliance rate or worse in any single compliance review required to use EOBRs to monitor driver hours. OOIDA contended that the rule was “arbitrary and capricious” and that the cost-benefit analysis failed to show any benefits of the technology. The Owner/Op association also pointed to an FMCSA analysis that concluded “Companies use EOBRs to enforce company policies and monitor drivers’ behaviour in other ways.”
“They can contact the driver and put on pressure to get back on the road to get the most of his or her on-duty time, regardless of how fatigued a driver may be,” said Spencer. “Such a mandate would be a step backward in the effort toward highway safety and is an overly burdensome regulation that simply runs up costs for the majority of trucking, which is small-business.”
The proposed rule had been supported by the American Trucking Associations, which represents motor carriers.
“Though we are still reviewing the Court’s decision, ATA supports FMCSA’s efforts to mandate the adoption and use of electronic logging devices for hours-of-service compliance,” said ATA president and CEO Bill Graves. “FMCSA’s research shows that compliance with the current hours-of-service rules is strongly associated with reduced crash risk. Of course, electronic logging devices are an important tool for improving 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 added. “As demonstrated by the record improvement in the industry’s safety record since the framework for the current hours-of-service rules went into effect and the agency’s own compliance and crash data, increasing compliance with the rules is vital. Of course, electronic logging devices are an important and effective means to this end.”
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