‘The Year of Truckers’ Rights’

By Jami Jones, managing editor

The year of 2011 is going down in my book as “The Year of Truckers’ Rights.” The top two reasons: Truckers’ constitutional rights were upheld in two major federal court cases during the year.

First, the Minnesota State Patrol was told to knock it off when Judge Donovan W. Frank with the U.S. District Court for the Minnesota District ruled that truckers’ constitutional rights could not be violated through the state’s fatigue enforcement program. The judge even set firm limits on what fatigue enforcement in the state can and more importantly cannot do in the future.

A second huge win for truckers’ rights was OOIDA’s win over the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s electronic on-board recorder regulation. Judge Diane P. Wood wrote the opinion for the U.S. District Court for the Seventh Circuit and chastised the agency for failing to address driver harassment via the electronic devices in the rulemaking process.

I should also point out that the court only considered the first of three arguments presented by OOIDA – because it’s all that was needed to toss the rule out. That leaves a couple more arguments in OOIDA’s arsenal if FMCSA doesn’t get the picture on electronic on-board monitoring of drivers.

Those decisions serve clear notice to federal and state agencies, as well as law enforcement, that when it comes to truckers, they have rights and not even regulatory agencies or law enforcement can violate them at will.

Make no mistake, 2011 was a game changer.

However, as the coach says when you’re ahead by a couple of points at halftime: Don’t get comfortable with the lead. There’s still a lot of game left.

We know 2012 won’t be a cakewalk. But we laid critical groundwork in 2011, and we fully plan to put more points on the board. LL