The US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced a 30-day extension of the public comment period for a September 7, 2016, notice of proposed rulemaking that would require all newly manufactured US trucks, buses, and multipurpose passenger vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 26,000 pounds to be equipped with speed-limiting devices.

The new public comment deadline of December 7, 2016, will provide all interested parties sufficient opportunity to fully develop and submit comments and evidentiary materials to the agencies via www.regulations.gov.

In another related development, the US Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit has rejected the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s challenge to the federal electronic logging device mandate.

OOIDA had asked the court to overturn the FMCSA’s final rule, issued in December 2015 and scheduled to go into effect Dec 17, 2017.

The court spurned each of OOIDA’s five main arguments.

In a 28-page opinion, the court said, “Petitioners claim … that the final rule is contrary to law because it permits ELDs that are not entirely automatic. We disagree. … Petitioners argue that the agency used too narrow a definition of ‘harassment’ that will not sufficiently protect drivers. This claim also fails. When defining harassment, the agency sought input from drivers, motor carriers and trade organizations; it considered administrative factors; and it ultimately provided a reasonable definition of the term.

“Petitioners argue that the agency’s cost-benefit analysis was inadequate and fails to justify implementation of the ELD rule,” the court said. “However, the agency did not need to conduct a cost-benefit analysis for this rule. … Petitioners argue that the agency did not sufficiently consider confidentiality protections for drivers. The agency, however, adopted a reasonable approach to protect drivers in this regard. [Finally,] petitioners argue that the ELD mandate imposes, in effect, an unconstitutional search and/or seizure on truck drivers. We find no Fourth Amendment violation.”

In a statement, OOIDA President Jim Johnston expressed his concern.

“We are disappointed and strongly disagree with the court’s ruling,” he said. “Because this issue is of vital importance to our members and all small-business truckers, we are reviewing our next steps to continue our challenge against this regulation.”

In a 60-page brief filed June 15, FMCSA said, “The electronic logging device would provide certain pieces of driver-unalterable data, which would complicate the process of falsifying driving hours.”

The agency also said it adopted several technical provisions to guard against driver harassment and added that the improved hours-of-service compliance achieved through ELDs would annually result in 1,844 fewer crashes, 26 lives saved and 562 injuries avoided.

“ATA is pleased that the court has cleared the way for this important regulation, and we look forward to its implementation,” said Sean McNally, vice-president of public affairs and press secretary for American Trucking Associations.

Access www.FMCSA.dot.gov for more details.