Trucking Industry Files For Injunction to Stop Electronic Logging Mandate
he Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), a federal agency in charge of regulating the trucking industry, recently enacted major changes which are due to go into effect by the end of next year. The new mandate requires that all truck drivers switch to electronic log books, rather than paper log books, by December 18, 2017.
The FMCSA believes that the switch to electronic logs will lead to more accountability and more honest log books. Truckers are required to log the number of hours and miles that they drive each day, and they cannot exceed certain federal limits. With paper log books, it was relatively easy to “adjust” these numbers to ensure that a driver can deliver a load within a certain time. Without an electronic log, drivers have been known to skimp on sleep or drive for more hours than allowed, endangering other drivers.
The electronic logs would attach directly to the vehicle and would be tamper-resistant. The electronic logging device would record the miles and times driven without input from the driver. The FMCSA estimates that the change will prevent 1,844 truck accidents each year, saving 26 lives and preventing 563 injuries.
However, not all truck drivers or trucking companies are enthusiastic about the switch. A group of independent truck owners and operators recently filed a lawsuit against the federal Department of Transportation seeking an injunction to block the change. The drivers argue that the new regulations are an unconstitutional overreach into the trucking industry. The change is expected to increase shipping prices and decrease trucking capacity, driving businesses to other shipping methods like air or rail transportation.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, located in Chicago, will hear the case in September. If successful, the case has the potential to prevent the new mandate from becoming law for several years while supporters and opponents battle in court.
It is unfortunate that consumer safety regulations are often challenged by those seeking bigger profits. Hopefully, the switch to electronic log books will come as scheduled, making the roads safer for all drivers.
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