Senate Highway Bill Includes Burdensome, $2 Billion “Big Brother” Mandate
Despite being previously struck down by a federal court, a costly and unnecessary mandate has been included in the U.S. Senate’s highway surface transportation funding legislation.
U.S. truckers see it as the last thing a struggling trucking industry needs right now and want to see it removed from the bill.
A provision in S.1813, also known as MAP-21, requires all long-haul trucks to be outfitted with electronic on-board recorders, or EOBRs, capable of real-time tracking for monitoring of trucks and drivers. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, the largest trade organization representing professional truckers and small-business truckers, contends EOBRs are an unproven technology, providing no cost benefit or highway safety improvement.
“It’s exorbitantly expensive while providing no safety benefit whatsoever,” says Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice president. “This is being done under the guise of compliance with federal hours-of-service regulations, but it is actually a way for large motor carrier companies to squeeze more ‘productivity’ out of drivers and increase costs for the small trucking companies they compete with,” said Spencer.
A regulatory version of an EOBR mandate was struck down by a federal Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit because the FMCSA failed to deal with the harassment of drivers. Noted in that ruling was the fact that no research has shown how such a mandate would do anything to improve highway safety.
“EOBRs are no more reliable than paper log books for tracking hours of service,” said Spencer. “The device only tracks when the wheels are moving, not taking into consideration the colossal waiting times spent by truck drivers at shipping docks. Plus, we hear every day from truckers whose companies use the devices to harass truckers into driving more hours.”
The current EOBR rulemaking has been estimated by the Obama administration to cost the industry $2 billion if enacted. In response to a request made by U.S. House Speaker John Boehner to disclose all rulemakings in excess of $1 billion, President Obama listed the current EOBR rulemaking as one of the seven most expensive regulations pursued by the administration.
“It is more than twice the cost of hours-of-service regulations, which by the way are still in flux and not truly finalized. Yet the FMCSA presses on, seeking additional authority from Congress for yet another mandate,” said Spencer.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is the largest national trade association representing the interests of small-business trucking professionals and professional truck drivers. The Association currently has more than 150,000 members nationwide. OOIDA was established in 1973 and is headquartered in the greater Kansas City, Mo., area.