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FMCSA defends ELDs against legal challenge

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s rule mandating electronic logging devices (ELDs) and establishing new performance standards for electronic records of duty status (RODS) fully comply with congressional requirements and takes appropriate steps to protect drivers from harassment and from disclosure of confidential information, the agency said in a court brief filed June 15. Earlier this year, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association challenged the final ELD rule in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit – the same court that invalidated an earlier FMCSA rule on electronic logs.

Other issues addressed in FMCSA’s brief include a challenge to the agency’s cost-benefit analysis and a claim that the ELD rule violates the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable search and seizure. FMCSA argued that Congress did not require it to conduct a cost-benefit analysis at all and that Congress essentially “did the weighing itself and simply ordered the agency to promulgate a rule requiring ELDs.”

On the Fourth Amendment claim, the agency argued that ELDs are neither a search nor a seizure. “ELDs are not surreptitiously attached to a vehicle by the government, but are installed by a motor carrier openly and pursuant to regulation with the advanced knowledge of the carrier and driver, who effectively consent to their installation and use by voluntarily participating the commercial motor carrier industry.” And even if ELDs represented a search or seizure, “ELDs would be a permissible warrantless inspection of a closely regulated industry,” FMCSA said.

In addition to FMCSA’s response, “friend of the court” briefs in support of FMCSA’s position were filed June 22 by the American Trucking Associations and jointly by the Trucking Alliance for Driver Safety and Security and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. All filings in the case are available at

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