• Henry Seaton

Supreme Court won't review ELD rule

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association have lost their final judicial appeal on mandatory electronic logging devices as the U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear the group's challenge to a Seventh Circuit ruling in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's favor.

With the Supreme Court's action, the only remaining possibilities are for Congress to reverse its 2012 decision to mandate ELDs or for FMCSA to decide on its own to rescind or delay the rule. Neither is seen as likely. Congress has taken no significant steps toward halting the final ELD rule or even undoing the mandate. Meanwhile, FMCSA under the Trump administration has shown no signs of including ELDs in any regulatory reform initiative. Indeed, the administration's fiscal 2018 budget request includes information technology funding to support ELDs.

The best chance opponents have for at least a delay is technological. At a recent public meeting on technical specifications for ELDs, FMCSA was vague about when it would be ready on its end with the file protocols that ELD vendors would need to use in communicating ELD data to the agency. Although there is no indication yet that FMCSA will not be ready, the agency has a poor track record on technology. For example, after several postponements, FMCSA earlier this year delayed indefinitely its Phase 2 implementation of the Unified Registration System.

Unless blocked or delayed, beginning December 18, 2017, drivers who must complete records of duty status generally must use either a registered ELD or an electronic logging system that meets the current automatic onboard recording device (AOBRD) standard.

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