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Todd Dills

ELDs: Privacy, competition, adoption

| May 10, 2014

In our ELD survey, some results from which I reported on here and here, of the 12 percent of Overdrive readers who indicated they were already using electronic logs, 6 in 10 had made the transition within just the last two years. More than 8 in 10 had transitioned to e-logs in the last four years. While the vast majority of those making the recent transition were company drivers and leased owner-operators, those least likely to be required to outlay hard cash for purchase/use of the devices, for independents who’d made the switch numbers were even more heavily tilted toward recent adoption. Close to 8 in 10 of that group indicated a switch to e-logs within the last two years, 45 percent within the last year. 

The recency of adoption among this group gives some credence in my view to the bit of devil’s advocacy Equipment Editor Jack Roberts played a couple weeks back to results from Overdrive’s survey question on drivers and owner-operators’ plans relative to the FMCSA’s proposed electronic logging device mandate. A big majority said they’d close up shop before running under e-logs.

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But Roberts also made note of the privacy issue, which “cuts to the core of the opposition to ELDs,” he wrote, continuing:

Americans are a free people increasingly surrounded by a growing surveillance state. Technology has made it easier than ever before to track the movements and activities of people as they go through all aspects of their lives. Sometimes this is a good thing: The identification and capture of the Boston Marathon bombers last year springs to mind. 

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In the scrum of commenters that followed, among them was Cary Davis, safety director for Texas-based Albert Companies with a 27-year driving career now behind him. He took on the privacy argument against ELDs this way: “This has nothing to do with privacy issues. You are conducting commerce in a federally regulated vehicle. … You are confusing personal freedoms as a private citizen with your job as a regulated employee in a regulated job. Those two items can’t possibly be farther apart on the privacy spectrum! If we were to use your train of thought, then we should remove the black boxes from aircraft, ocean-going vessels should not show up on radar, trains should not be monitored to avoid collisions with another train, etc. etc. etc. That doesn’t sound very responsible, does it?”

Owner-operator Joe Bielucki

Owner-operator Joe Bielucki

The expectation of privacy and freedom of business choice are two different things, though both tend to dominate ELD concerns and get confused on occasion. Owner-operator Joe Bielucki, based in Connecticut, makes a good argument for the latter. Representatives of larger carriers — the voices that tend to dominate the pro-ELD side of things — view ELDS “as a leverage tool only,” he wrote in recently. “Back when the CDL was coming down the pike all these same folks were saying how rates will improve and bad apples will fall by the wayside. This did not come to fruition! CDL programs have been plagued by corruption in many states. As a ‘micro-carrier’ I have an advantage over large carriers…. I am hands-on, talking to my customers face to face, and working with the hands-on folks of my shippers.”

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Finally, he notes, implications by some in and out of the industry that the 70 percent of independents who intimated in Overdrive‘s ELD survey that they’d hang up their gear-shifters before running with e-logs are chronic hours violators are missing the point: “Most of us who actually read Overdrive are law-abiding folks who like to be left alone to do the right thing. Ethics I believe the word is I’m looking for.”

As Max Heine quoted Bielucki in this piece, “If you’re a chronic violator, then fine. But I should not have to pay for someone else’s misjudgments.”

Comments on the proposed ELD mandate can be made online through May 27 at regulations.gov using the Docket Number FMCSA-2010-0167 or by email at oira_submissions@omb.eop.gov, using the subject line Attention: Desk Officer for FMCSA, DOT. They can also be faxed to 202-395-6566. 

While OverdriveOnline.com strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions, it does not welcome comments reflecting racism, vulgarity or spam. Violations of this policy can be grounds for removal of a comment or banning a user from the comments system.

  • Cameron

    What a dumb comment by Cary Davis that we have no expectation of privacy just because we are federally regulated! What other rights does Mr Totalitarian Davis think we give up by earning a living as a truck driver?
    Can the feds regulate our speech because we are truck drivers? Can they regulate our religion?
    You don’t give up your rights because of your chosen job. Nearly 7 in 10 Americans need some sort of government license to do their work. With illogical logic like Mr Cary Davis’s, rights essentially don’t exist.

  • Steve LaFleur

    When it comes to hours of service, you agree to abide by the law governing them, so in that sense, you aren’t entitled to “privacy” with regard to when you drive.

    In the event of myself, where I pretty much sleep in my bed in my own apartment, what I do in my 10 hours between runs is my own business. A FMCSA official isn’t standing outside my bedroom door listening to me snore.

    Hours of service isn’t a matter of “personal rights”, right along with drug testing, background checks and all the other intricacies that we submit to so we can drive a CMV. Your point is moot.

    If I smoke pot on a vacation in Amsterdam where it is completely legal and come home a week later and fail a drug test, that is an infringement on my privacy because I was in another country.

    But it won’t change things. I’m out of a job, end of story.

    If you run legal, eLogs don’t bother you. It is just a testament to how many drivers still fudge their hours of service, because they are taking it up the ass being detained at shippers, or just plain greedy and want to cook the books because the payment on the F-250 demands it.

    It’s not illogical logic. I’ve been driving for 35 years.

  • William McKelvie

    Cary Davis says NO PRIVACY issues? Is that right. How’s about I don’t want folks knowing where I stop on or don’t stop on a regular basis with certain cargo. Soon as they know, that makes me, and anyone a target. Thieves can set up shop early, expecting my arrival at a certain stop or area of stop, that is how they get the goods now. Think the stealing will not increase with them gaining more knowledge of where more of us stop for whatever reasons? Think again. Cary Davis is out of touch with reality.

  • TomT

    “The policy of the American government is to leave their citizens free, neither restraining nor aid them in their pursuits.” Thomas Jefferson.
    All through history it has been shown that people receive exactly the government they deserve.
    Again, “when people fear their government there is tyranny, when the government fears the people there is liberty”. Thomas Jefferson. The left wing liberals such as Cary Davis believe some have violated the law, punish everyone. According to that train of thought, some people rob banks, why aren’t we all wearing ankle bracelets? To compare ELDs to black boxes is like comparing apples to oranges. Airplanes, trains and buses carry people who have no control over their own safety. A truck driver hauling whatever drives on a publicly funded highway that we all pay for, and is not safety everyone’s responsibility including the cars and other vehicles that are supposed to share that highway that we all pay for with truckers who are paying an exorbitant share for the privilege? What is next? black boxes for SUVs because they are a bigger vehicle and do more damage to a smaller electric car. If this is the “pursuit of happiness you want, then you deserve it.

  • g

    Yep I started using the ignorant electro log when Werner started the Crap in 1997…it sucked then and it sucks today. If you like a Strait Jacket you will like Electro Logs….lol loose leaf paper log gives ya more “flexibility”.

  • g

    Agreed!! Stealth Driving is much better…lots of cargo theft is helped from INSIDE with the help of office workers……”shared information” and load tracking is great for Highjackers….

  • g

    Oh yea the CDL crap….was SUPPOSED to ensure all kinds of crap…didnt do anything EXCEPT force us to pay old FINES from 10 years ago that got “overlooked”…..they could see nationwide much better….but TODAY Maria is handing out CDL’s to any illegal alien who walks in the door at Motor Vehicles Dept….including a nice HAZMAT endorsement for a few extra bucks…..CDL is nothing but a sick JOKE and so is this Bullcrap electro log….nobody could Possibly take trucking seriously today…hahahhah lol.

  • TomT

    You can NOT regulate responsibility. After a while excessive regulations and laws become meaningless, unfair, unenforceable and produce unintended consequences and become nothing more than a tool for an overreaching and oppressive government to justify their suppression of anyone who happens to object to their totalitarianism and a ready supply of never ending greed for more of the money we work for so they can finance their unending control of every area of our lives. People such Cary Davis and supporters wittingly or unwittingly help them do it. If we don`t have the solidarity to stop it, shame on us, we deserve whatever we get and have to live with.

  • g

    Rediculous JERKS promoting all these gadgets to MONITOR and OBSERVE and FILM the slave/boy/driver…..need ALOT more money to be subjected to this CRAP. If they want us to be UPS drivers…we need the PAY they get to be glorified MONKEYS in a CAGE..ordered around like CHUMPS to make people RICH??? Pay UP…if you can find ANYBODY stupid enuff to put up with this idiocy.

  • Linda G

    I am a one truck pony. (my new catchphrase!) and hubby and I team drive. We have a hot shot rig. We work for ourselves, book our freight through load boards and brokers who we have worked with before. We know where we are at all times, we abide by the law and keep our logs updated constantly. We end up stopping no less than 15 times a day, between fuel, walk the dog, bathroom breaks and eating.

    Now exactly what good are electronic logs going to do me? Does someone really need to know how often I have to use the ladies? Or better yet, when and where the dog needs to smell the bushes?

    We team drive, work weekdays only and never run out of hours, so it is not like we have to “cook the books”. But now we will have another expense to cut into what profits we manage to eke out of the career. And for what, the “consortiums” that will grow out of this?

    Oh well, I have communicated with my legislators (and do so monthly) and submitted my points to the comment line,And when it becomes law, I will follow it to the letter. And take one more blood pressure pill.

    I feel better!

  • Dave Nichols

    the e log is a tool. i think once you use it a while it will be un noticed andyou will even find some bneifits for it.

  • wifesaysfish

    Another step to Obamas third world country. People should study history with more intensity , they would see a pattern developing that has been seen before.

  • Coffeeclue

    I think the point should not be about ELDs. It should be about the underlying laws that should be flexible enough to allow safe operation and common sense. If FMCSA wants a well rested driver, the driver should be allowed to go to a comfortable parking place instead of being forced to sleep on the side of a street with no bathrooms or showers. System should work on average time usage, not absolute. For example, drivers should be allowed to go over driving limits for the day, as long as they do less driving the next day.

  • art

    Why make it mandatory for everyone and have people pay for this stuff when we are bearly getting by theses days with the low paying loads high fuel costs and it’s just another thing we need to maintain on a truck, make it mandatory for constant offenders that brake the laws, optional for those who want it, the regulations need to lightened up a bit with the hos not made even harder but it always comes down to the person that makes the least and go screw him over because it’s the easiest cos they can’t afford to fight back