Automatic Recording of Truckers’ Hours on the Road: Why Some Are Against the ELD Rule


Automatic Recording of Truckers’ Hours on the Road: Why Some Are Against the ELD Rule

Enforcing the new ELD Rule began a few weeks ago for commercial trucks and buses moving through Indiana and Illinois.  In our last post, we discussed the details of this new federal regulation from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in compliance with provisions passed years ago as the “2012 Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” (“MAP-21”).

Beginning in December 2017, citations will be given and fines imposed on truck drivers and trucking companies (semis, big rigs, 18-wheelers, tractor trailers) that fail to have an Electronic Logging Device (ELD) installed on their rigs.

Right now, federal citations will be issued for failure to have the gizmo installed.  In April 2018, they will start issuing citations for what the gizmos are reporting, i.e., failures to follow and comply with the new HOS Rules.

The Attorney General for the State of Indiana asked the federal government to consider postponing things.  You can read his letter to FMCSA in our prior post.

Why Are Some Against Automated Recording Of Hours Driven On The Road?

The Indiana Attorney General was far from the only voice dissenting against the imposition of citations and fines for failure to have these devices installed on commercial trucks.

 Trucking companies, of course, are not pleased with ELDs.  Independent owner-operators have concerns, too. 

1.  OOIDA Concerned About Buying An ELD That May Be Found Non-Compliant

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) issued its news release “applauding” the Indiana Attorney General’s action in writing to Congress.

From this trade association of independent truckers comes these comments from its vice-president, Todd Spencer:

“Most small-business truckers can ill afford to make these purchases only to learn later that their ELD is non-compliant.  Yet they are required to do so or risk violation.…

 The ELD mandate is estimated to cost impacted stakeholders about $2 billion annually, making it one of the most expensive federal transportation rulemakings over the last decade.   The mandate provides no safety, economic, or productivity benefits for most ensnared by the mandate, which includes businesses that are not in trucking, but rely heavily on trucks as their business models.”

2.  Truck Drivers’ Protests and Rallies: the “ELD or Me” Movement

Before the implementation of enforcement, there were rallies and protests by truck drivers concerned about being forced to have an ELD on their rigs.  Their slogan:  “ELD or Me.”

The truck drivers’ arguments against the ELD?

  • Some truck drivers argue they might feel pressure to keep going because the ELD Rule and the new HOS regulations discouraged the drivers from making their own decisions on when they need to stop and rest.
  • Some truckers feel having an automated device on their engines was disrespectful and an infringement on their rights.
  • Others feel that having the ELD means that the trucker will feel the pressure of being “on the clock” and may drive more haphazardly as a result.

To read more of the individual truckers’ discussion of the ELD, read “Truckers Rally Across Country in Opposition to ELD Mandate,” by Deanne Winslett and published by CCJDigital.com.

Support for the New ELD Rule

Regulators under both the Obama and Trump Administrations have favored the new HOS Regualtions and the ELD Mandate.  There are safety advocates that are encouraged by the implementation of these few federal oversights into commercial rigs on the road, too.

Safety advocates support the December 2017 enforcement of the ELD Rule.  They argue that ELDs will make roads safer for everyone. 

1.  Trucking Alliance Applauds Enforcement of ELD Rule

From the Trucking Alliance, a nationally recognized trucking industry safety group, comes the following from its president, Steve Williams:

Installing ELDs in commercial trucks will improve the lifestyle and pay scale of our nation’s commercial drivers and play an important role in reducing large truck crashes on our nation’s highways.…”

“Operating commercial trucks on US highways carry with it a moral and ethical responsibility to the public that our drivers are well rested, drug and alcohol free and well trained and these ELDs will verify that drivers are obeying the law and not exceeding their hours behind the wheel.”

2. Industry Analysts Think Things Will Be Safer Under the New ELD Mandate and HOS Rules

Those who study the trucking industry and safety issues are in favor of these new federal regulations because of their automated technology, among other things.

Industry analysts point out that automation replaces paper tracking which is forecast to stop a lot of cheating on the HOS time reporting. 

In an editorial published December 6, 2017, in the Houston Chronicle, business columnist Chris Tomlinson corralled a number of ELD Rule proponents who explained their support of the new rules and regulations.  Entitled “Lifesaving Trucking Regulation Needs Protection,” the column includes:

  • The fact that paper logs are the only way that trucking regulators have been able to confirm truck driver’s hours on the road, a practice that hasn’t changed since the 1930s.
  • The reason for checking logs is to make sure no one is cheating on their time sheets.
  • Lots of truck drivers cheat. According to Tomlinson, it’s estimated that as many as 20% of truckers on the roads “fudge their logs.”  Why?  So they can make more money. Truckers don’t get paid if they are not driving.
  • In fiscal 2017, 30,274 truck drivers were placed “out of service” for cheating on their time logs. This was the highest number ever recorded by regulators.

Safety for Truck Drivers and Risk of Fatal Truck Crashes

It wasn’t too long ago that a joint letter was sent by the country’s major safety advocates to Congress warning the Senate that truckers were at a high risk of serious injury and death on the roads, and that HOS Rules (and their implementation) should be enforced.

Groups like the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety; the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association; and the Teamsters Union urged federal lawmakers to stand firm against the pressure from trucking industry lobbyists who were working hard to dilute or delay new HOS Rules.

Read their joint letter as part of our April 2016 post entitled, “Rising Danger of Fatal Truck Crashes Clashing With Weakened Federal Regulation.

In 2018, we will be watching as these new safety measures hit the road – enforcing limited hours of service by drivers of commercial trucks and buses in an attempt to reduce the number of fatal crashes and serious accidents on American roadways.

And while the concerns of the America truck drivers are respected, from the position of those who represent those truckers who have died in fatal truck crashes as well as those who have been seriously injured or killed in collisions with big rigs, semis, 18 wheelers, and tractor trailers on the roads of Indiana and Illinois, the goal of reducing the number of these tragedies must be tantamount.

Truck accidents are horrific in their capacity for destruction.  Fatal truck crashes are a serious risk in our part of the country, where so many trucks move along our roads.  Let’s be careful out there!

 

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