Electronic IDs an ‘unwarranted intrusion’ on truckers, OOIDA says

November 23, 2022

Mark Schremmer


Calling it an “unwarranted intrusion” into the privacy of truck drivers, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association opposes any attempts to mandate electronic IDs on commercial motor vehicles.

“OOIDA and our members oppose this proposal in the strongest possible terms,” the Association wrote in formal comments to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. “Our members have been extremely clear that this concept is an unwarranted intrusion into their privacy, as well as an overly costly and burdensome requirement that does nothing to improve their efficiency or safety.”

The Association cited George Orwell’s “1984” to express its concerns.

“OOIDA does not support the erosion of privacy, nor the destruction of identity through surveillance and control,” the Association wrote. “To ask for more surveillance and control in the name of safety on our highways is to venture into what George Orwell would call ‘doublespeak.’ The term ‘Big Brother’ has come to signify government control of and intrusion into truckers’ individual lives.”

Prompted by a petition from the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, FMCSA issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking that considers requiring all commercial motor vehicles operating in interstate commerce to possess a unique electronic identifier. CVSA claims the mandate would improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the roadside inspection program by allowing officers to focus their efforts on high-risk carriers and drivers.

Safety concerns

However, OOIDA contends that an electronic ID mandate could negatively affect highway safety if enforcement officers begin prioritizing roadside inspections based on potentially unreliable data instead of observable safety hazards.

“The CVSA petition contends a unique electronic identifier mandate would allow their members to better focus their enforcement efforts on high-risk carriers,” the Association wrote. “OOIDA believes the systems currently used to determine high-risk carriers are critically flawed, such as the Compliance, Safety, Accountability program, diminishing any perceived safety benefits of the proposal.”

OOIDA noted that fatal crashes have increased since the start of the CSA program.

“In the five years following CSA’s introduction, there was a 20% increase in fatal crashes and a 55% increase in crashes that resulted in injuries,” OOIDA wrote. “Furthermore, many truckers have expressed frustration that CVSA member agencies fail to report clean inspections, which was promised when CSA was established, further eroding confidence in the system and its role in identifying high-risk carriers.”

Privacy concerns

The agency accepted comments on the notice through Nov. 22. More than 1,700 comments were submitted.

Many of the comments came from truck drivers concerned about privacy.

Truckers also pointed to privacy concerns before the introduction of the electronic logging devices mandate. In 2020, an FBI bulletin pointed to cybersecurity concerns regarding electronic logging devices.

“Perhaps the most concerning aspect of this proposal is FMCSA’s failure to address the shortcomings and security risks associated with previous technology-based requirements, including the ELD mandate,” OOIDA wrote. “There is insufficient recognition of the concerns motor carriers and drivers have continuously expressed about privacy and data security, and there are no indications FMCSA has taken any meaningful steps to alleviate these concerns. Barreling forward with a new mandate involving the transmission of sensitive information only intensifies concerns involving identity theft, cargo theft, security threats and more.”

Citing Fourth Amendment concerns, OOIDA said that the mandate would expand upon the warrantless search activities of both the federal government and its state partners.

“Any proposed inspection scheme must comply with the applicable federal and state administrative search standards,” the Association wrote. “The agency’s proposal demonstrates that there remains much work to be done to ensure that any new inspection/identification scheme protects individual privacy rights in accordance with the Constitution. Many of the questions asked by the agency reveal that it is far from a foregone conclusion that warrantless unique electronic identifier searches can justified under the Constitution.”

Call to abandon proposal

Based on the concerns, OOIDA told the agency that it should not proceed with any rulemaking to require electronic IDs on trucks.

“We encourage FMCSA to immediately abandon this proposal,” OOIDA wrote. “We plan to vigorously oppose any subsequent steps this agency takes to mandate the use of unique electronic identifiers.” LL