Federal Appeals Court Decision Rejects Baseless Challenge to Truck Driver ELD Rule

  • November 1, 2016
150 150 Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety


Contact:  Allison Kennedy, 202.408.1711, akennedy@saferoads.org

Federal Appeals Court Decision Rejects Baseless Challenge to Truck Driver Electronic Logging Device Rule

Decision Clears the Way for the Rule that Will Help Reduce Driver Fatigue, at a Time when Deaths and Injuries from Truck Crashes Have Reached Near Record Levels

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) commends the decision issued on Monday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago rejecting a frivolous challenge to a regulation that requires most commercial motor vehicles (CMVs), namely large trucks and buses in interstate commerce, to install an electronic logging device (ELD) to track driver on-duty time.  The rule was required by the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21, P.L. 112-141) enacted in 2012 and was issued by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in 2015.  Advocates and the Alliance for Truck Driver Safety and Security (Trucking Alliance) filed an amicus brief with the Court in favor of the regulation.

Truck driver fatigue has been a known safety problem for decades.  The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has repeatedly cited fatigue as a contributor to truck crashes and included fatigue related crashes on the 2016 Most Wanted List of safety changes. Operators of commercial trucks and buses are governed by federal regulations known as the Hours of Service (HOS) rules. The HOS rules had required CMV drivers to keep a paper log of their on-duty time and changes in driving status.  However, as Advocates has long identified, the Court noted in its recent ruling that compliance with the HOS rules is fraught with major problems. Lack of compliance and falsification of paper records have led to driver fatigue resulting in crashes, fatalities and serious injuries.

The long overdue ELD rule will increase compliance with HOS rules, ease the ability of law enforcement to ensure compliance, help reduce truck driver fatigue, and improve safety for all motorists on our roads and highways.

“The Court’s ruling knocks down a barrier to getting proven and needed technology in large trucks and buses to reduce the industry-wide problem of truck driver fatigue,” said Henry Jasny, General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.  “Truck crashes are a major public health and safety problem, and truck crash fatalities are on the rise. An ELD requirement to ensure compliance with hours of service (HOS) rules is long overdue.  Far too many people have been killed and families needlessly devastated from crashes caused by tired truckers who have exceeded HOS limits. With this court decision, safety prevailed and an affordable and available technology will now be required.”

The 4,067 people killed in 2015 in crashes involving large trucks is an increase of more than 4 percent from the previous year and a 20 percent increase from 2009.  This is the first time truck crash deaths have exceeded 4,000 since 2008.  Further, in 2014 (the latest year for which complete data is available), 111,000 people were injured in crashes involving large trucks — an increase of 50 percent since 2009 and the highest number of injuries since 2005.

“In a great step forward for safety, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit unanimously rejected all five claims that the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) raised in their petition to vacate the rule requiring ELDs,” stated Daphne Izer, Co-Founder of Parents Against Tired Truckers (PATT).  “Having worked for more than 20 years to require ELDs after my son Jeff was killed by a truck driver who fell asleep while driving, I look forward to the full adoption of this life-saving technology by December 2017, which will help prevent fatigue-related crashes like his from happening in the future.”

“We were happy to join with Advocates in filing our supporting brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals,” said Steve Williams, President of The Trucking Alliance and CEO of Maverick Transportation in Little Rock, Arkansas. “With this ruling we are one step closer to assuring the motoring public that commercial truck drivers are properly rested. Now we need widespread use of technology to ensure drivers are drug and alcohol free.”