The Department of Transportation faces a Nov. 4 deadline to respond to a challenge to a rule mandating the use of electronic onboard recorders by some truckers.
The deadline results from a legal challenge to a final rule on the recorders, or EOBRs, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration released in April.
The FMCSA rule will require truckers who are found to violate federal hours of service rules more than 10 percent of the time to use EOBRs to track hours.
By The Numbers: Cass Freight Index.
A group representing independent truckers filed a petition with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in June seeking a review of the regulation.
The Chicago-based court gave the FMCSA until Nov. 4 to respond to the petition.
The EOBR rule would affect 5,700 motor carriers within a year of its effective date of June 1, 2012, according to the FMCSA.
"We are committed to cracking down on carriers and drivers who put people on our roads and highways at risk," said Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.
"This rule gives us another tool to enforce hours-of-service restrictions on drivers who attempt to get around the rules," LaHood said.
Carriers that voluntarily install EOBRs won't have to keep some HOS supporting documents, such as toll receipts, used to check driver logbooks for accuracy.
But "There is no data that shows these devices will increase highway safety," said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer.
The association argues that the EOBRs themselves cannot track driver hours of service without input from the driver -- just the location and speed of a truck.
It also fears EOBRs will be used to harass or "improperly pressure" drivers.
The group also says mandatory use of EOBRs would violate constitutional privacy rights, and that constant monitoring constitutes "a search" of the driver.
The FMCSA already responded to a petition from several EOBR manufacturers and the American Trucking Associations, amending its rule in September.
The agency deleted requirements establishing a temperature range for the recorders, and said it would review other requests before June 1, 2012.
-- Contact William B. Cassidy at firstname.lastname@example.org.