Pick a Lane


Remember the competition you had with your brother growing up? The fights to settle the dispute the agreeing to disagree (but not really, because you were right). Well here we are. The center of this fight is ELD or Electronic Logging Device. The fight has been going on for years. The premise is that a computer can track and help regulate hours of service better than me after a long day, lots of coffee and carbs in a dimly lit cab of my truck with paper and pencil. OK, maybe? I don’t think there is much argument on that point?  What is at question is how they collect the information. How much is too much info for Big Brother. Now I am not one of those look in the sky, tin hat guys. I am starting to embrace technology, much to my families horror (Twitter is pretty cool). This seems to be the disagree part.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, OOIDA, for short. Is challenging the requirement that truckers electronically log their hours. They claim that rule would be ineffective and amount to unlawful tracking. The group said drivers would still have to record changes to their duty status on e-logs, making the devices “no more reliable than paper logbooks for recording hours of service compliance”. It disagrees that e-logs can help prevent highway accidents, which is the goal for the e-log rule.

Sean McNally, spokesman for the American Trucking Association, said the carrier group has filed a brief in support of the e-log rule. “The notion that an e-log connected to a vehicle wouldn’t be more accurate than paper logs, is laughable. Organizations that are serious about driver safety and welfare should be supporting a move to a 21st century technology,” he said.(1)

The government, FMCSA, says that the e-logs help enforce limits on hours that drivers can spend on the road, and that analyses of carriers already using the devices showed they could reduce crashes. Many of the larger trucking carriers already use the e-log system, and support the safety rule.

OOIDA argues that the comparison is not apples to apples, in that the comparison of safety records do not compare to those that do not use the system. OOIDA disagrees that e-logs prevent highway accidents, and calls e-logs a form of tracking. That without a warrant, constitutes illegal search and seizure and is a violation of drivers’ fourth amendment rights.

“There is simply no proof that the cost, burdens and privacy infringements associated with this mandate are justified,” said Jim Johnson, OOIDA president and CEO. “This mandate means monitoring the movement and activities of real people for law enforcement purposes and is an outrageous intrusion of the privacy of professional truckers.”(2)

OOIDA had won a previous challenge to a prior e-log rule in 2011, claiming the rule did not have adequate safeguards to ensure the logs couldn’t be used to harass drivers. The FMCSA says that part of the ruling has been addressed and corrected.

Agree to disagree? Pick a lane.

Notes (1) and (2) quotes and notes from WSJ.