OODIA Wages War On FMCSA
The public eye is firmly focused on the ongoing OODIA lawsuit against the FMCSA or Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Additional filings occurred in January 2012, due to the inability of the FMCSA to adhere to decisions propagated in the August 2011 hearing, when the United States Court of Appeals approved the OODIA-filed Cease and Desist Order. According to OODIA, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration continues to operate, by their own accord regardless of the decision.
In this Cease and Desist Order, OODIA stated that the FMCSA had unlawfully utilized the electronic on-board recorders within Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration vehicles. This filing was a result of the lack of compliance of FMCSA to remove these recording devices from all federal vehicles driven by the federal agency’s personnel, following the United States Court of Appeals’ enforced ruling. Led by Judge Diane P. Wood, the United States Court of Appeals moved to nullify the AOBRD Regulation which allowed motor carriers, such as FMCSA, to install these devices inside the utilized vehicles. By vacated and/or nullifying, this regulation, the court releases the FMCSA of its authority to enforce the use of these devices.
Why are The FMCSA Recording Devices Unlawful?
According to reports and claims by OODIA, FMCSA is utilizing these electronic on-board recording devices for the sole purpose of harassing driving personnel employed through the agency. FMCSA claim the recording devices were originally installed to monitor their drivers and to ensure that these drivers were compliant with the regulations set forth by FMCSA to include the AOBRD Regulation. This compliance is based on the driver’s ability to drive these federal vehicles during working hours. The agency claims that the devices are utilized to ensure that all job duties are completed during the allotted work schedule.
The OODIA are singing a different tune, and believe the FMCSA and its blatant disregard for the court’s decision continue to utilize these devices for harassment purposes only. According to claims, these electronic on-board recorders are used invade the privacy of the workers and to allow the FMCSA to harass the drivers for not pushing their physical abilities to the max regardless of the public’s safety and the safety of their drivers.
These claims are not the first of their kind. According to Department of Public Safety reports, an increase in the death of motor carrier drivers has the direct resulted of employer enforced regulations and policies which require drivers to continue beyond scheduled working hours. These drivers often become exhausted from driving long distances without breaks and, as a result, pass out at the wheel cause their death and/or the death of surrounding drivers and their passengers. The OODIA wishes to prove the validity of their lawsuit against FMCSA for similar reasons, as this federal agency has continued to enforce the nullified AOBRD Regulation.
OODIA’s Role in the FMCSA Case
The OODIA is advocating for the safety of drivers of all included within the American Trucking Association including drivers employed by FMCSA. This foundation conducted driver related surveys, during their process of gathering data for the FMCSA lawsuit. The findings established that 68% of drivers employed through FMCSA were ordered directly by their employers to push the envelope and continue driving beyond their scheduled working hours. These hours were said, by FMSCA spokespersons, to fall within the parameters of the legally allowed driving time of motor carriers. The findings of the OODIA research indicated that this is just not the case.
Among the motor carrier drivers surveyed, at least 29% of these drivers were awakened by FMSCA management and ordered to continue to drive, when they were discovered to have fallen asleep inside the motor carriers. This discovery made possible only by the monitoring of the FMSCA drivers via the electronic on-board recorders. The OODIA filed its order to prevent the continuing utilization of these electronic on-board recorders all together, with the relevancy that FMSCA could not provide proof that the AOBRD regulation was not implemented for this purpose. According to the Court of Appeals, regulations based on the prevention of harassment were not stipulated within the literature for the regulation. The OODIA was successful in their attempts to receive approval of their order, based on the regulations lack of clarification pertaining to FMSCA harassment.
The advocacy of these motor carrier drivers by OODIA is an effort to increase federal and private sector awareness that the FMSCA is clearly ignoring Department of Transportation regulations. These DOT regulations require motor carriers to follow the 14-hour Duty Limit. This duty limit regulations required motor carrier drivers to refrain from driving for at least a 10-hour period following their shift. According to the DOT, drivers, who do opt to drive prior to this rest period are in violation with these regulations and endangering the public.
The ATA’s Response to the OODIA Lawsuit
The American Trucking Association, despite its lack of a direct response from the court, filed its own petition requesting intervention status to support Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. At press time, the ATA had received a response from OODIA in this matter. The courts granted OODIA permission to provide the ATA with their own response. This response, which included a copy of the OODIA order petition, informed the ATA, that their brief submitted to the court failed to address the initial purpose of the order. The American Trucking Association executives were identified, by motor carrier drivers employed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, as regular participants of utilizing the EOBR for the purpose of harassment.
This information among other data gathered by OODIA produced findings that supported claims that drivers leased and/or employed through ATA board members reported the worst working experiences among the drivers surveyed. The OODIA data also implies that ATA was aware that regulations ceased to exist, prior to the establishment of the EOBR rule by FMSCA, permitted the use of monitoring devices in motor carriers. Prior to this rule, agencies were not permitted, under law to use GPS tracking devices in the motor carriers either. According to OODIA, the GPS tracking devices were also utilized for the sole purpose of harassment, despite ATA support of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s work practices and procedures. FMCSA continues to deny these allegations. L.C. Ringler (Gonzotrucker)
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