Friday, January 20, 2017

‘Death by a thousand cuts?’

Countless words have been written or spoken about the electronic logging device mandate and if this tracking technology – due to be in effect in December – should have been a choice. This jack-booted rule has been grabbing headlines, driving industry talk and aggravating drivers for several years. And it’s one that’s been in the legal cross-hairs of OOIDA for as long.

OOIDA won a round in court to stop it, but in a second battle, a federal court in Chicago decided it didn’t see the wrong in allowing the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to force it on everyone. OOIDA requested for a rehearing but was denied. It seems to me it was just easier for the court to defer to the government agency rather listen to the needs and rights of the people.

It just doesn’t make sense that a federal court would agree that electronic logging devices be forced on all trucks. A simple solution to the controversy is that ELDs need to be voluntary, not a fist-smashing, no-exception decree. But that wasn’t considered here.

OOIDA is now planning to take the ELD case further – which is, of course, to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to consider hearing it. Because buried in the thousands of words is one simple one that makes the Association go on. That word is mandate. Nothing here justified a mandate. The minute ELDs become a rigid way of life for three million commercial truckers, the industry is headed down an irreversible and completely unbending path that runs afoul of the Constitution.

This suddenly becomes so much more than ELDs.

California’s truck and bus rules, for example. And right in front of us – speed limiters.

A real threat is the trampling of the separation of powers. As you will remember from your old eighth-grade lessons, we have three separate branches of government – legislative, executive and judicial – this way there is not one big government that wields all the power.

Just in case you were lobbing spitballs during the “checks and balances” lesson, each of these branches are supposed to have the ability to check the powers of the other branches. In important aspect of this separation of powers concept is this: our government is in the business of protecting the individual rights of its citizens. Unfortunately, sometimes it is a powerful government agency itself that is blatantly the violator. When that happens, citizens and advocacy groups like OOIDA, yell as loud as they can to bring attention to it, urging another balancing branch of power to step into the ring.

A court system that cannot steady an unreasonable congress or rein in a federal agency that makes quasi-despotic and heavy-handed rules is a frightening reality. Where is the balance?

An interesting scene that is already becoming clear is that the 115th Congress may be more receptive to acting on, not ignoring, much-needed regulatory reform and that’s hopeful news.

An old Chinese term that was used in a Senate subcommittee hearing this week describes how all of these rules together can be lethal – “Death by a thousand cuts.” That’s a good description of the cumulative damage taking a toll on small-business truckers and shows no sign of slowing down. It has to stop.

Hopefully, 2017 will provide OOIDA an opportunity to successfully champion true checks and balances.


  1. Great post. Couldn't agree more. The ELD mandate is insidious. Here is an example of the way the Federal government works. Looking at seat belts. As I recall they announced that they were going to make not wearing seat belts a violation. There was an uproar. They said don't worry we will just issue a warning if you are stopped for something and we notice you don't have one on. After a period of time they announced they will issue a ticket, just $10, but they won't stop you for a seat belt violation. Some more time passed and they changed it to a violation that they can stop you for. Now, the icing on the cake is the threatening messages they put on those expensive electronic signs no one asked for..."click it or ticket". That in a nut shell is how the government works. sneaky and dishonest. With ELDs, they slipped in a provision that also put "black boxes" in your car. So, now they have their foot in the door of your car. But don't worry they claim it's just an accident event recorder. We cannot allow the government to put everyone under electronic surveillance for ordinary law enforcement or for any other reason for that matter. In a free society people are free to make their own judgments and decisions and to determine their own behavior. If the ELD mandate is upheld it will set precedent for the government to use throughout our population. Now here comes autonomous cars. Better stated as government controlled cars. So, they want to take control out of your hands altogether. People should turn off their televisions and start getting in the face of this government before it's too late. We are already approaching a point where the American revolution could not have occurred under the kind of surveillance we have today. Everyone should be very, very concerned. We must no comply.

  2. Your comment here on my blog makes some interesting points. I would really like to use excerpts from it in our upcoming magazine. We don't, however, use anonymous comments. If you would consider permission to use parts of this commentary, can you call me at 1-800-444-5791? Ask for Sandi?

  3. There are plenty of reasons to NOT require ELD's -- and those reasons seem to be ignored by the Feds. There are plenty of drivers who operate safely without ELD's -- and those success stories seem to also be ignored by the Feds. Apparently there is not a search here for the facts, for the real reasons that some truck drivers crash and others do not. There is an agenda - by large fleets, by electronics makers, and whomever else, to control yet another aspect of industry and life. HOS regs themselves are arbitrary to safety - yet truckers have for decades driven safely in spite of those regs. Now a vain attempt to improve compliance (not safety) is closer than ever to reality. Thank you OOIDA for not giving up. I talk to drivers who are on / were on ELDs and there are many problems with them that show up in real-world trucking every day. Danny Schnautz, Clark Freight Lines, Pasadena, TX

  4. The Supreme Court route sounds like a Hail Mary attempt.
    I'm afraid the ELD regulation will not be reviewed because it appears like a safety issue. I thought I read the FMCSA did not do proper studies to prove it was a safety issue. Seems like the place to start.


Leave a comment here.