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Federal court upholds truck driver e-log rules

The many big rigs and large trucks that use California's highways are subject to a variety of federal and state safety regulations. One of the most important regulations is the requirement that drivers keep detailed logs of their operations. Such logs can be an important piece of evidence in determining the cause of a truck accident, because they show the number of hours the driver was operating a vehicle between rest stops and whether an accident may have been caused by driver fatigue.

One of the most controversial rules governing driver logs is the recently announced regulation that drivers must use electronic logging devices instead of paper logs to keep track of their operations. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association filed a lawsuit in federal court to prevent the rule from taking effect, but in a recent decision the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit rejected the drivers' arguments.

The drivers argued that the rule violated their constitutional right to privacy and made them subject to harassment by their employers. The court held that trucking is considered to be dangerous and a "pervasively regulated industry." These considerations limit the applicability of the Fourth Amendment's protection against an unreasonable search and seizure. The court found that e-logs were a reasonable regulatory method of making roads safer. The danger of owner harassment is reduced by the regulation's limitation on the kind and amount of information that drivers can be required to record.

Driver fatigue is a common cause of accidents involving over-the-road vehicles. Anyone who has been injured or who has lost a loved one in such a collision may have a claim for damages against the driver, the owner of the truck or the entity that hired the truck.

Source: Wall Street Journal, "Appeals Court Upholds Trucker E-Log Rule," Loretta Chao, Nov. 2, 2016

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