The final rule for the ELD mandate was developed from several months of planning and coordination between federal officials and transportation industry stakeholders.
The final rule for the ELD mandate was developed from several months of planning and coordination between federal officials and transportation industry stakeholders.

The final rule for the ELD mandate was developed from several months of planning and coordination between federal officials and transportation industry stakeholders. Still, even after its release more than a year ago, some groups remain opposed to the rule and are fighting its rollout in the court system.

In March 2016, Commercial Carrier Journal reported the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association had filed a lawsuit against the ELD rule in federal court. The suit was brought on behalf of two drivers who argued the rule was unnecessary and violated the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, which protects U.S. citizens from unreasonable government monitoring.

That lawsuit’s motion to overturn the ELD rule was denied in a ruling made Oct. 31, 2016, by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. In doing so, the court upheld that the rule was constitutional and could still proceed as planned. However, on Dec. 14, the OOIDA filed a petition for a rehearing of the case. If that request is denied, the case could be brought before the U.S. Supreme Court, should the plaintiffs wish to do so.

These developments put the precise legality of the ELD rule in question for now. However, this doesn’t mean commercial drivers and managers should delay their implementation of the rule much longer, as it remains federal law until a court decides otherwise.

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In addition, many other transportation industry groups have voiced support for the rule and the use of ELDs in trucks. The Truckload Carriers Association noted in a statement that the court’s support of the rule only strengthens its legitimacy and the positive impact it can have on the industry. The Trucking Alliance also voiced support of the rule, saying the devices will make drivers safer.

“The fact that Congress mandated ELDs, rather than relying on the FMCSA to simply promulgate a rulemaking, gave this issue much more weight,” said Lane Kidd, the Alliance’s managing director, according to CCJ. “Congress mandating ELDs will prove to be the pivotal point that changed the trucking industry for the better and a new era of safety and compliance.”

Still, concerns about driver privacy and government overreach are not unfounded, and there are many steps that must be taken to ensure no one is worse off under the ELD mandate. Driver information must be treated carefully and respectfully by managers and administrators, in ways that are outlined in the details of the rule. The data these devices collect must also be stored securely, away from the prying eyes of criminals or anyone with a nefarious agenda.