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FMCSA wins court decision on electronic logging rule

Kentucky residents may be aware that Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration published a rule in December 2015 requiring electronic logging devices to be used by U.S. truck operators to keep track of how long their drivers spend behind the wheel. The new rule was challenged in federal court by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, but an Oct. 31 judicial ruling has paved the way for the regulation to go into effect in December 2017 as planned.

The advocacy group filed their lawsuit in March, and the parties involved made oral arguments Sept. 13. The OOIDA claimed that the electronic monitoring devices rule violated the constitutional rights of the two truck drivers named in the lawsuit and failed to meet standards laid down by Congress. However, judges in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously rejected these arguments and ruled that the FMCSA regulation should go into effect as planned.

In 2011, the same federal court ruled that the FMCSA's previous ELD rule failed to protect truck drivers from harassment. The judges hearing the challenge to the latest version of the rule were satisfied with the steps taken by the FMCSA to address these issues. The electronic devices will replace the paper logs currently used by truck drivers to keep track of their hours.

In addition to making it more difficult for truck drivers and logistics companies to falsify hours-of-service records, the ELD rule will ensure that specialists investigating commercial truck accidents will be provided with accurate data. Personal injury attorneys sometimes rely on accident investigations and police reports to establish negligence in truck accident cases, and they would likely welcome any regulatory changes that make reckless behavior more difficult to conceal. A victim of a truck accident may decide to consult an attorney who may then gather ELD data as evidence if possible to support a personal injury case.

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