Advocates for small and independent trucking businesses launched a new attack on a federal requirement that requires big-rig drivers use electronic logging devices in their trucks, claiming it violates their Fourth Amendment constitutional rights. 

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association filed the legal brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh 7th Circuit arguing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s mandate would cause unreasonable search and seizures, is arbitrary and does not advance safety.

“The agency provided no proof of their claims that this mandate would improve highway safety. They didn’t even attempt to compare the safety records of trucking companies that use ELDs and those that do not,” said Jim Johnston, OOIDA president and chief executive. “There is simply no proof that the costs, burdens and privacy infringements associated with this mandate are justified.” 

“For most truckers, a truck is not just a vehicle but is also an office and a home away from home,” Johnston said. “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.”

OOIDA filed a similar appeal in 2011, stating that ELD requirements failed to guarantee that drivers would not be harassed.

Electronic logging devices are installed on trucks to record a driver’s time on the road, their movement and their locations, among other things. ELDs are intended to make drivers compliant with Hours of Service rules, which limit the amount of time a driver can spend behind the wheel on a given day.

The government mandate requiring the use of these devices was put forth in late 2015, requiring that trucks meet requirements by the end of 2017. 

The American Trucking Associations disagreed with OOIDA’s challenge.

“ATA supports FMCSA's rule requiring electronic logging devices on large trucks by late 2017 and we expect to file a brief expressing that support and opposing OOIDA's lawsuit in the near future,” said Sean McNally, the ATA’s spokesman.

“The notion that an ELD connected to a vehicle wouldn't be more accurate than paper logs – subject to mathematical errors or outright falsehoods – is laughable,” McNally said. “Organizations that are serious about driver safety and welfare should be supporting a move to a 21st Century technology to record hours-of-service compliance, not have to be dragged out away from the 19th Century technology of a pencil and paper.”