OOIDA challenges black box mandate

GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has filed a petition seeking review of the final rule established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) mandating electronic on-board recorders for motor carriers with chronic noncompliance with hours-of-service regulations.

OOIDA claims there is no proof the “black box” devices can accurately and automatically record a driver’s hours-of-service and duty status, noting that an EOBR can only track the movement and location of a truck, and human interaction is required to record status changes.

OOIDA also contends that FMCSA ignored a federal statute to ensure that EOBRs will not be used to harass vehicle operators.
“Not one word appears in the EOBR rulemaking record identifying regulations containing safeguards to ‘ensure that the devices are not used to harass vehicle operators,'” according to the OOIDA brief. “For this reason alone, the rules must be found to be arbitrary and capricious for the agency’s failure to heed the specific statutory mandate.”

A Regulatory Impact Analysis by FMCSA noted that, “companies use EOBRs to enforce company policies and monitor drivers’ behavior in other ways.” OOIDA says this type of monitoring can be used to harass and improperly pressure drivers.

“Carrier harassment includes the use of technology to interrupt a driver during an off-duty rest period. Carriers can contact the driver and pressure him to get back on the road to maximize his on duty-time. Such power usurps the driver’s discretion to get rest, take a break or sleep when he believes it is necessary even when he or she has time left on the clock to drive or work,” the brief states.

OOIDA also argues that the use of EOBRs infringe on drivers’ rights to privacy. “The real-time, government mandated, 24-hour electronic surveillance of a driver’s location and movements contemplated by the (notice of proposed rulemaking) is an unjustified and dangerous intrusion on drivers’ right of privacy,” the brief states.

The constant monitoring constitutes a search of the driver within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment, according to OOIDA.
“While warrantless searches have been granted in the workplace, numerous court decisions have prevented them on a citizen’s home or private dwelling. Given the unique nature of the trucking industry and the fact that many drivers utilize their tractors as their home away from home, the Association argues that a driver has such a reasonable expectation of privacy in his truck when he is not working,” OOIDA officials said in a release.

“The mandated use of EOBRs subjects perfectly legal, private activity to public scrutiny, and potential sanction,” the brief states.

OOIDA and the member plaintiffs are asking the court to vacate the rule and send it back to the agency for further consideration consistent with the court’s findings. The court has given FMCSA until Nov. 4 to file its reply briefs.

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  • What a lame argument.
    If a driver runs legally, according to the rules, then wouldn’t this technology be welcomed so paper logs don’t have to be maintained to perfection?
    Did the author miss the part about “for motor carriers with chronic noncompliance”. Is this the standard then, for owner operators.
    To paraphrase: “EOBRs will be used to get O/O’s moving when they want to rest!” Oh please!
    24 hour electronic tracking and monitoring is nothing new in the freight business is it? It’s just developing to the next level as with most technology these days.
    How James Deanish. Rebels without a cause or even a reasonable argument.
    How about, Join the OOIDA….”Rebels without reason.”
    As a member of the industry I am embarassed by this group, yet again.

  • If a driver is running legal what do they have to hide? Usually people that want to complain about laws are the ones who don’t obey them and have something to hide? I would hazard a guess that most transport companies run some form of tracking system (Qual Com). These have been around for a long time. When you roll across a scale, pay a toll, buy fuel, cross the border, send a text message I do believe you are time stamped? So why all of a sudden does the EOBR change things?

  • I have been using Drivers Daily Log (an electronic log book) for 8 years now. This log book is on my laptop and the only extra DOT requirement is that I be able to print it off in the truck. This program takes away all of the math errors and the dumb mistakes of not entering the carrier info or any other of the mandatory info that we have all made mistakes with!!! I recommend this program to anyone that wants an easier log book than doing it on paper!!!! I will post the link below.

    As for EOBR’s I am against them for I believe that only the criminals need to be monitored 24/7. These criminals would include chronic offenders of HOS rules. BUT where do we draw the line of government monitoring of the public? With EOBR’s this technology WILL allow the government to monitor YOU from their office in Edmonton, or Ottawa! Are you comfortable with having BIG BROTHER at your shoulder 24/7? If so I would suggest talking to anyone who grew up in the Soviet Bloc and ask them what government monitoring can turn into! I work with several people from the old Soviet bloc and every story is the same, government monitors TELLING you that you can not do that because I say so!! NO reasonable justification is needed!

    here is the website for Drivers Daily Log- (www.driversdailylog.com)

  • How many of you drive grain trucks? Sometimes you wait 14 hours to get loaded! You don’t get paid for waiting, and with the EOBR once you are loaded you can not leave. The grain trucking industry will have to start paying the drivers to wait, at that time we will all pay more for food. Think about it! Not all drivers drive vans!