The Supreme Court rejected a last-ditch bid by a major truck driver association to overturn a federal mandate on electronic logging devices that track how many hours truckers drive.

The nation's highest court said Monday it would not consider a petition by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association to hear the trucker trade group’s argument against the Department of Transportation and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration requirement to install the devices, or ELDs, in heavy-duty trucks. The federal mandate is set to go into effect on Dec. 18.

“Many small business trucking companies have waited until the outcome of this case to decide what compliance pathway they would select,” said Joe Rajkovacz, governmental affairs director for the Western States Trucking Association. “My only advice at this point is don’t wait until the last minute to familiarize yourself with the available options.”

Equipping roughly 500,000 U.S. trucking firms with ELD looks to be about a $1–billion business, according to FMCSA estimates.

The issue has divided the trucking industry.

OOIDA argued that requiring ELDs on commercial vehicles would violate truck drivers’ privacy and foster carrier harassment over driving hours. The mandate will impact more than 3.5 million commercial drivers.

“The mandate has everything to do with large, economically motivated entities using the government to impose their will on small businesses which comprise the majority of the trucking industry,” said Jim Johnston, president and chief executive of OOIDA.

The trade group said it will turn its efforts to lobbying Congress to block the mandate.

“There are still many questions about the technical specifications and enforcement aspects of the mandate,” said Norita Taylor, spokeswoman for OOIDA. “Until the government is able to answer many fundamental and basic questions about the mandate, they should at least delay its implementation.”

But safety advocates, the American Trucking Associations and big motor carriers supported the rule, arguing that it would prevent truckers from driving past legal limits determined by the so-called federal hours of service rules.

“We are pleased to see that the Supreme Court will not interfere with the implementation of this important, and Congressionally mandated, safety rule,” said Chris Spear, spokesman for ATA. “We will continue to support FMCSA as they work toward the December deadline for electronic logging devices and urge them to provide certainty to the industry about when and how to comply with this rule by continuing to move toward implementing this regulation on schedule.”

The industry expects to see the ranks of independent truckers shrink if the mandate survives. Many drivers aren’t willing to submit to the electronic tracking.

And while many large carriers have already made the switch over to electronic logs, many small-business truckers are still using paper logs.

Lee Strebel, of Gulf Breeze, Fla., a 43-year trucking veteran, still uses paper logs. He was hopeful the high court would hear OOIDA’s ELD challenge and possibly delay implementation of the devices on trucks.

“I know how to log legal and don’t need a machine to tell me how to do my job,” Strebel told Trucks.com.

Strebel is affiliated with a small carrier, M & M American Inc. of Mason, Ohio, which has about 60 trucks. The trucking company has just begun to transition to e-logs.

However, Strebel, a few years from retirement, will “suck it up and deal with ELDs,” but said he hopes the Trump administration will weigh in on the ELD issue as it has on other regulations impacting the trucking industry.

Brian West, president of M&M, said his small fleet, which includes owner-operators and company drivers, is moving toward becoming ELD compliant and is currently testing an e-log device on 20 percent of his fleet.

“We have no problem switching over to electronic logs,” West told Trucks.com. “I think it will even the playing field in the trucking industry.”

However, he said he has faced resistance from a handful of drivers who say they will quit the trucking industry before running ELDs in their trucks.

“There’s a lot of talk right now from drivers – and they may buck it at first, but when push comes to shove, I think they will learn to accept e-logs and maybe even like using them,” West said. “There is always a groundswell of opposition when anything new is introduced in the industry.”

West predicts there will be an adjustment period for shippers and receivers, who are notorious for holding up drivers for hours at their docks without worrying if they run out of hours.

“Other forces within the industry need to be held accountable for the impact of ELDs and that drivers are on the clock and only have so much time to drive if they want their freight delivered on time,” West said.

Truck drivers only have 11 hours of driving time each day.

FMCSA Spokesman Duane DeBruyne declined to comment on the Supreme Court’s decision not to hear OOIDA’s case.

About 4 million commercial vehicle inspections are conducted every year throughout North America, according to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance.

The FMCSA estimates that ELDs will prevent 1,844 crashes, 562 injuries and save 26 lives annually by keeping exhausted drivers off the road.

Taylor said the ELD mandate “will not improve safety” as the FMCSA suggests in its data.

“It will, however, be another costly regulatory burden heaped upon an already over-regulated industry,” Taylor said.

OOIDA’s previous attempt to block the ELD rule was foiled in October 2016 when the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago rejected the owner-operator group’s arguments.

 

About The Author

Clarissa Hawes

Clarissa Hawes is a Trucks.com staff writer who covers trucking and freight. She is an award-winning journalist with over 10 years of experience covering the trucking industry. She can be found on Twitter: @cage_writer.

16 Responses

  1. John D

    After 29 years driving a truck with a perfect record in both safety and service I like many of my cohorts in the industry are retiring early and by the thousands.
    I just put a dump truck body on my 2011 Freightliner to run as needed local runs and will no longer spend weeks away from home, kids, wife just to feed the hateful nation of socialist for the sole purpose of being a target of harassment from profiteers in the mega companies and ELD junk sales circuit who pump this scam.
    America, If you like your milk at $3 a gallon, then you will love it at $8.
    And if you enjoy shortages of shipped goods being ON TIME, your going to love them progressively getting later and eventually not showing up at all.
    Smile, You were not willing to hold liable the individuals who acted bad but instead you chose to punish everyone so you deliberately missed no one to keep it all “FAIR”, well nothings ever really fair, just the trick thats sold as fair.
    Shoppers, citizens, fools – You all wanted this socialism, you got it.
    Now, wheres my Foodstamps……..

    Reply
    • Mike

      OK, I want to understand this ELD thing. I am a retired butcher. Leaving out the “hateful nation of socialists” you mentioned, your main complaint is that you’ll be harrassed by “profiteers in the mega-companies and the ELD junk sales circuit. How will that happen? I am all for protesting anything that’s unfair to any groups or individuals who are working hard to earn a decent living for themselves and their families. Like I indicated, I want to understand how this ELD mandate will negatively affect truck drivers.

      Thanks for your time.

      Reply
      • Vicki

        I’ll try to answer this. The problem is the 14 hour rule, which says the drive may not drive after the 14 th hour on duty. He can’t pull up to your dock and turn off the clock, it’s still running as on duty. So he goes on duty and leaves the truck stop at 6 AM gets to your dock at 7 AM. He then sits 3 hours waiting to unload. Say he does have a reload 1 hr away. So prefect world he’s backed in getting reloaded at 11 AM. He’s 5 hrs on duty at this point. Say it takes 3 hrs to get loaded. After 8 hours getting unloaded and reloaded he has 6 hours maximum he can drive. Then he must shut down for 10 hours. Hope he’s tired and can sleep, because the clock isn’t going to let him until the next 10 hour break.
        The complete mandate does not allow for the drivers to be human and it does not compensate for dealing with shippers or traffic.
        And that’s not getting into 34 hour restarts, 30 minutes breaks, or trying to find parking when your clock runs out.

  2. Andy Fennell

    After seeing just how ineffective any of the motor truckers associations are especially GMTA for which only took one year of membership to find them out I took my quarles directly to the politicians and found all of them are tied up in themselves not us. My fights are over now after 45 years with a perfect driving record I’m out. They have always politicized trucking and airlines making us the bad guys. This will not make the roads safer because all the best drivers I know has had enough, a government tattle tell in the cab with me is too much government intrusion.

    Reply
  3. Erik

    I hope Trump does something about this. Prove you’re for the working man and kill this bill.

    Reply
  4. Scott Blake

    My question is when are we stopping them ? We are the people not to be governed by the establishment. We set rules of the road . When is the national shut down ? That’s how we are going to be herd .
    I tried the elog and lost 40% in gross Revenue . Quickly went back to paper logs .
    I’ve dedicated my whole life to the road . I’ll be dam if I’m willing to just stand by and let people who have no idea run our industry to the ground . It’s time for this shut down to happen . It’s time to be herd . Or we all stand to lose alot more than just time but our way of life and to be forever dictated by the government . I did wish Trump was going to help us but I think we need to make a stand .

    Reply
  5. Darryl Pugh

    They say you have to manage you’re time better so when the shipper or receiver delay you 4 to 6 hours you stay in sleeper mode finish out your 10 hr break! How the hell is this any safer then cheating on your logs! All it does is make a bunch of drivers less courteous on the roads more stressed because you’re racing the clock constantly dealing with traffic jams in every city you come into! Then when trying to get home to see you’re family on weekends you run out of time an hour or two from the house and have to do a 10 hr break if these folks making these ridiculous rules had to abide by same bull crap rules and sacrifice all there time away from family and kids it wouldn’t be happening funny how when they have a hurricane and they need food, water, fuel and everything else they shut scaled down and turn the other cheek! What they need is a good dose of reality! Need to wake up and vote all of them out put some folks with common sense in office🙏🏻

    Reply
  6. B Inman

    These people are nuts thinking that putting a driver under the pressure of a clock is safe, not only does the driver have to run faster to get the job done he really can’t stop, so really who wod you want behind you and your family when you on the road for vacation the driver on the book who can stop and take a five hour break when tired or the one under pressure of the clock and it sure as heck don’t work for carhaulers because they spend so much time loading and unloading so where are they supposed to get driving time from

    Reply
  7. B Inman

    Oh yeah and they think they see trucks on the side of road now, you ain’t seen nothing yet they’re gonna be everywhere when they go to this crap. What are you supposed to do when you go in the front of the truckstop and out the back for lack of parking and your clock is winding down they will tell you that you should have planned better but the reality is that traffic is gonna predict where you stop now

    Reply
  8. Daniel

    Here’s the way to fix what the communist are up to. NOTHING MORE PAID BY THE MOLECULAR PAY DRIVER’S BY THE Hour This at least a 20$ a hour job just for math sake probably at least more like 30$ so if you work 70hrs at 20$ = 1400$ so now all that free on duty nothing driving time I get paid for! Most company driver’s don’t make nearly that. Looking at turn over rate 120 to 130 % Average yearly is about 52000$ See how they like that. Suddenly you’re wages good to 65 to 70000 $ a year.Talk about now nothing being rushed it won’t matter about traffic jams and shoppers and reciver delays and all that free time we all give I get paid for SEE HOW THEY LIKE THEM APPLE’S

    Reply
  9. Big Trucker

    I read you guys thoughts on this issue. However if you don’t stand for something you’ll fall for anything. In my opinion this want improve safety on the hwy. ..one because 9/10 its not the trucker causing the accident its some rushing nondriveing individual out there trying to cut the trucker off or trying to get hit looking for a big payday….second if this improve safety then what will it do for the high insurance we pay every month with no refund return for having a good driving record …no insurance will stay the same cause its all about money….the only way to fix this problem is to strike lay down and don’t move any freight that’s the only way to be heard …we pay these high insurance cost only to be told we can’t drive but a certain way to improve safety ..but no one is implementing lower rates mandates to the insurance companies. ..understand this guys we run the world without our trucks nothing gets done nothing and the only way we gone win if we take a stand and demand change January 1, 2018 period …

    Reply
  10. USA PRO

    PLEASE!!!!!!!! ALL OWNER OPERATORS ….. TRUCK DRIVERS …..DO NOT MOVE YOUR TRUCKS ON DECEMBER 18,2017….. WE NEED TO BE HEARD ABOUT THIS ELD BULL SH…..!!!!!LETS BE TOGETHER ON THIS!!!! IF AMERICA STOPS DEC 18 WE WILL MAKE A CHANGE AND BE HEARD!!!!!! PLEASE SPREAD THE WORD TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW THAT IS A TRUCK DRIVER….

    Reply

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