OOIDA Appeal for EOBR Use in Trucking Jobs Denied

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association failed in their bid to curtail the use of electronic onboard recorders. The Seventh Circuit US Court of Appeals summarily denied OOIDA's appeal to cease any encouragement of the recording devices use until such time as the presiding agency could review and reissue the rules governing the use of these devices. No reasons for the denial of the request were released.

On January 19, 2012, OOIDA filed an appeal with the Seventh Circuit US Court of Appeals requesting that the court order FMSCA to “cease and desist from authorizing, sanctioning or in any way encouraging” the use of electronic onboard recorders as a way to monitor hours of service compliance. If granted the appeal would have stopped the FMCSA from encouraging the use of EOBR until they issued rules protecting drivers from harassment, but it was denied on March 21, 2012.

This appeal was based on a similar ruling made by the same court last August that overturned the FMSCA's 2010 rule that forced noncompliant trucking companies to install EOBRs on all of their trucks. In the August decision, the court ruled that the FMSCA's rule regarding the installation of EOBRs failed to meet federal regulations regarding protecting driver's from harassment. The similarity of the two appeals makes the lack of any reason for the denial of the most recent appeal questionable.

OOIDA has also sought an answer to the prevailing question of driver protection from harassment directly from the agency. They went directly to the agency for answers before involving the courts. In November of 2011, OOIDA sent a letter to FMSCA representatives regarding an article in a trade publication that seemed to indicate that the agency was pursuing a "policy of encouraging" trucking companies to install EOBRs without first defining rules for their use that would prevent harassment. The FMSCA continued their current policy, and the courts were brought into the matter.

The matter of EOBRs and driver harassment is far from settled, and those that hold trucking jobs will be paying close attention to this situation. In response to recent events, the FMSCA will be holding a public discourse on the subject on April 26 in Bellevue, WA. Interested parties from within the industry are encouraged to attend. The session will feature question and answer sessions as well as the presentation of new research on the matter. The FMSCA will then use what they learn from the session in the development of their Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. To be sure, the results of this latest attempt to bridge the gap between the OOIDA and the FMSCA will be scrutinized by everyone within the industry.

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