House Action Would Thwart GPS-Aided Tracking of Commercial Trucks

Independent truck operators and a general fear of government surveillance led to passage of an amendment today (June 29, 2012) that would prohibit U.S. agencies from implementing any rule requiring GPS tracking or other devices to be installed in passenger or commercial vehicles.

In a voice vote on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, congressmen approved the amendment to H.R. 5972, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2013.


Independent truck operators and a general fear of government surveillance led to passage of an amendment today (June 29, 2012) that would prohibit U.S. agencies from implementing any rule requiring GPS tracking or other devices to be installed in passenger or commercial vehicles.

In a voice vote on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, congressmen approved the amendment to H.R. 5972, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2013.

Jeff Landry, a freshman Republican congressman from Louisiana’s coastal bayou country, introduced the measure with the backing of the Owner-Operated Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA). An OOIDA survey of members last year, 37 percent reported that their trucks had GPS tracking devices.

The measure came in response to recent U.S. Senate approval of a highway bill that included a provision requiring all commercial motor vehicles to install an electronic on-board recorder (EOBR) incorporating GPS technology that could be inspected by the government.

EOBRs would enable the government to monitor long-haul trucks and drivers as a way to ensure that drivers do not exceed federal hours of service rules.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA), representing large fleet owners, has backed the EOBR provision, but opposition has also come from the National Federation of Independent Business, which argues that “[s]uch a requirement, in addition to being cost prohibitive, raises significant privacy concerns for small businesses.”

Truckers reportedly represent one of the largest groups using GPS jammers, also known as personal privacy devices, to prevent real-time or recorded tracking of their vehicles’ locations and times of operation. Indeed, a commercial truck operator was implicated in the jamming of the Ground Based Augmentation System (GBAS) ground facility at Newark Airport in New Jersey, which led to an prolonged investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration last year.