Overdrive Extra

Max Heine

Hours and recorders: Give safe drivers some freedom

| April 29, 2014
The proposed mandate for using electronic logging devices could take effect as early as the second half of 2016.

The proposed mandate for using electronic logging devices could take effect as early as the second half of 2016.

My comments on the proposed mandate for electronic logging devices brought no shortage of criticism. I agree with one theme that shows up repeatedly in the critique of that April editorialTo summarize: “I abide in the law, so don’t treat me like a renegade.” Or, “I know when I need to rest, don’t treat me like a child who doesn’t know better.”

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Even if we lived in an alternate universe where hours of service did not exist, fleets eventually would monitor drivers’ locations and hours.

The reality is that a major reason there is an hours of service rule is that there are enough law-breakers and desperate drivers and greedy fleets whose support of fatigued driving ruins the industry for everyone else.

As “R. Mahon” commented online,“The HOS regs were originally written to protect the drivers from the carriers running them literally to death. Many carriers would still do that, if they could find a way.”

And this leads to a better question, put well by “Eric” in an online comment: “I’m a successful business owner, why should I be held to the same standards as someone new to the industry?”

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Quite right. I have argued in a prior piece, as have others, that one big improvement to the hours rule would be to gradually loosen restrictions as drivers proved they were safe and mature. Those who prove to be the opposite are better off leaving the industry or, at least, being held to some narrow restrictions.

“If you’re a chronic violator, then fine, but I should not have to pay for someone else’s misjudgments,” wrote Joseph P. Bielucki of Quaker Hill, Ct.

One other common objection is that small operators, unlike their big competitors, can’t afford an ELD system. That’s true. And what’s more, an ELD for, say, a one-truck independent doesn’t offer the efficiencies a big fleet gains because the solo guy fully knows his situation. For him, the ELD merely proves compliance.

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Which points back to the idea of retaining some basic freedom of operation if your record shows you to be a safe driver. Say you’ve driven five years as a leased operator with a clean record and you want to get your own authority. You shouldn’t have to invest in technology to continue proving what you’ve already proven.

Art Pfluger of Road Warriors Transportation in Morristown, Ariz., one of those who noted the expense problem, also added, “I think you are underestimating those of us “Old Guys” that are willing to move on. It won’t be easy, but for us, instead of embracing this, we are laying plans to leave and find other ventures.”

I believe many – at least many independents – will indeed leave. In a recent study we did, 71 percent of independents say they’ll quit before they run with an ELD. My colleague Todd Dills explores this fully in a story in this story from April 17.

  • Azzbag

    Let the crying begin. Please tell us how you dont want more regulation blah blah how I’m going quit driving blah blah. When they see how much time we spend at the docks and cant deliver goods because we cant cheat anymore, maybe just maybe things will change. Cant lie no more babies.

  • mike m

    I m for eld.has long that my company will increase my salary.because with this device there will be a lost of income. in between of 6 to 10%.if not I m out

  • localnet

    You may have a point, in your immature rant.

  • Barney

    Little by little, the feds are going to create a driver shortage, which to some degree they already have. It will be entirely the fault of the so called safety advocates some of whom actually know nothing about driving a truck. That includes the FMSCA, and the DOT and some of the other idiots inside the beltway.

  • Thomas Dolph

    37 years accident free? Ya, I don’t think I need to be baby sat by anyone! And it’s not about being a crybaby…it’s about letting us be the responsible drivers us older guys are!

  • jr

    Here is a simple fix 2 the problem step 1 make the shippers and receivers pay $150.00 hour for every hour that the truck is on a property waiting to get loaded and unloaded they should only have 1 hour to load & unload a truck it is not a driver’s responsibility to pay for them to put the freight that they order up if the government wants to improve safety put the screws to the shippers and receivers time is valuable you cannot get time back how do they justify that they get first two hours are free on each end you do not get anything in this world free

  • William McKelvie

    I’m sorry but WHAT did that fella say? IF the carriers could they would? Is THAT right?? Get your head out of your ass, THEY ARE because THEY CAN and FERRO and DOT know it and are doing NOTHING to stop it. LOOK AROUND YOU, LOOK!! HOW TIRED ARE THESE GUYS AND GALS WHO RUN THOSE MACHINES AT CERTAIN COMPANIES?? THEY LOOK LIKE ZOMBIES! All the while using PERSONAL CONVEYANCE, and CHEATING the damn machines to make their appt times and deliveries. If FLEETS would hire dispatchers, managers with a CLUE, this crap would not be happening as much.

  • mcaj

    I’m at 29 years accident free, with very, very few violations and I agree!

  • Tim

    I have 36 years without an accident or violation. And yet they want to control me.

  • D. rollins

    We are missing one fundamental issue: transition from driving school to safe responsible driver. Safety starts from the word go. Schools just want to get as many students through as possible, and trucking companies just want as much mileage as they can from trainees and newbies. What happens in the middle? Put some new guy out with an experienced driver for 2-6 weeks? And most of these so called ” experienced” trainers have less than a year themselves. Why is there no national transition training? Why is there no standard for training school graduates after they graduate? This problem creates all the others on a domino effect. Fix this, you fix all the other.

  • Dan Bowkley

    This got me thinking…some trucks (Volvo I think?) can optionally be configured to increase the governed maximum speed if the driver maintains an average MPG above a certain threshold, and decrease it if they start getting poor mileage. Why not do something similar with safety scores and HOS? I doubt setting up a true sliding scale would be practical, but how about three HOS rulesets: one for fleets that have proven themselves to be very safe, one for “normal” fleets, and one for chronic violators? The DOT would easily be able to retrieve this info (heck, just use existing CSA info) and then use a cheat sheet for whichever rule they run under.

  • ToucheTurtle

    “The reality is that a major reason there is an hours of service rule is
    that there are enough law-breakers and desperate drivers and greedy
    fleets whose support of fatigued driving ruins the industry for everyone
    else.” Really, Max? I think that perhaps the HOS rules have more to do with appeasing the public because the four-wheelers don’t like to drive on the same road with big trucks, and when there is an accident NO ONE looks at what the four-wheeler was doing . . . it is automatically assumed that it was the trucker’s fault.

    The HOS rules were devised to provide cover for a group of non-truckers in D.C. who deem it necessary to restrict the big rigs to satisfy the general public, even if what they come up with proves to be counter- productive. Instead of placing more and more restrictions on the many truck drivers who drive for years W/O running someone over, how about we make it mandatory that four-wheeler drivers be required to ride in a big rig for a week and see the world from the other side of the windshield before they get a driver’s license. How about we MAKE them have speed limit equipment on their vehicles; or how about we make them fill out paperwork every single day documenting every hour of their day and how much rest they got; or make them have to use their turn signals if they want to turn – if they don’t the vehicle won’t turn; or just maybe they should be drug tested BEFORE the key will turn on in their lethal vehicle; or make them purchase equipment that measures how often they cut in too close in front of a big rig causing a fender bender and that equipment has to be read monthly for purposes of issuing citations for violators. Take more and more of their money and see how they like having to dish out thousands of dollars every year for something they really don’t need.

    Most truckers I know are not KommaKazi drivers who are out to run over anything that gets in their way. They are hard-working folks who are just trying to make a living and have invested thousands of dollars in their equipment. The very last thing they want to do is tear off a fender or ruin a tire . . . that is $$$ out of their pocket. They are honest, considerate human beings who don’t deserve to be punished because a few are renegades.

    When did America become a country where we punish the law-abiding citizens in order to make everyone feel better about those who are not? Is that the legacy that we inherited with 9/11? All the rules in the world aren’t going to make the roads safer if law enforcement, the DOT, FMCSA and all of the other duck-soup organizations don’t take the bad apples off the road!

  • Alan Giguere

    if we had drivers union it would fix most of the problums in the trucking

  • Alan Giguere

    we need to be paid more for what we due evey one in the would depens on us .

  • FoxStar

    You already have a log book. The way you worded it that, it sounds like you want to keep on cheating.

  • Vickie Mann

    I fully agree-some think $50. is the answer to everything–wether its a 5 hour wait or a 24 hour wait—-shippers set appointments and you HAVE TO BE THERE–but when you are you still wait..and wait..and wait…and something has to be done! If they hold you up they should compensate you for time lost==$150 sounds good–they should also consider you may have a load already set up after you get unloaded and when they hold you up –you lose your load which is losing you money-and pissing off someone because you had to do so…

  • William McKelvie

    Can’t cheat? Did you miss the regulation that says “only a motor carrier official can change drivers HOS”. Yeah it is there, so they can change your hours at any time, any place, any where and any how they want to, and call it a mistake. And when you bark to them on it, good bye job.

  • Tom T

    That`s exactly what they want. Cheap labor, guys
    who don`t have a clue what a good trucking
    paycheck should look like and are easy to take
    advantage of. If you have a good deal of
    experience and a clean record and are an
    older driver, they don`t even want to talk to
    you because they know you know and won`t
    put up with being pushed and worked for
    nothing.

  • Tom T

    Unless this rule is Federally mandated across the board,

    when you sign on with a company that has ELD`s you

    automatically surrender your 5th Amendment right to

    self incrimination. I know of drivers who have fought

    and won log violation OOS tickets and had their records
    cleared. Try and do that with an electronic log recorded
    at company headquarters. Simply because SOME drivers
    accumulate log violations dose not mean every driver

    should automatically be assumed to be guilty of the

    same thing losing another constitutional right simply

    because your a truck driver, (presumption of innocence).
    This is no different in my view, than roadside inspections
    where they search a drivers truck and belongings simply
    because they don`t like the way you look or the inside
    of your truck looks. If you say no they will threaten you

    with jail until they can get a warrant which they know
    they could not do with out probable cause. How many

    more rights do you want to give up? The only technology
    a driver should have aside from essentials, is dash cam
    to protect himself from autos that cause most of the accidents.

  • wifesaysfish

    People need to understand that this and most everything the fmcsa does is for safety, however they did away with safety when they dreamed up the fourteen hour rule. The driver doesn’t have the flexibility to take a nap if he is tired or stop and wait out rush hour instead of putting himself into a increased accident possibility situation.
    This is safer than allowing a tired driver take a nap according to the people that know what is right for us.
    The best I can tell from their actions and their speeches Ferror or Foxx don’t know the difference between a truck and a bicycle.

  • quickphil

    Retirement looking better all the time The day I have to put in a ELD is the day I park it and plant flowers on it

  • ToucheTurtle

    Which, frankly I might point out, is NONE of your business . . . PERIOD!!!

    As far as I know it is still a free country and so he can chose to break the law if he wants to. Just maybe he doesn’t want to spend the money for E-Logs, or just maybe he isn’t too tech savvy and doesn’t want to be! Whatever his reason, he is free to choose – at least for now – how he wants to report his time. Of course, if those who just can’t stand it if they can’t dictate every single move you make, I have no doubt that freedom will also go by the wayside right along with so many others.

  • ToucheTurtle

    Yeah, then we could just cough up 10% of gross revenue for union dues . . . . good luck with that one!

  • MercenaryMan

    I’ve said over and over SAFE DRIVERS should be given the opportunity to choose opt out , what’s more important safety or putting your expensive device in a safe drivers truck, 31 years not one accident, not one failed inspection, not one ticket, but I spend and spend and get regulations piled high because my belt size, neck size. Tell me whose safer after I comply. WHO ???

  • guest

    They want every driver to be like a UPS driver. Obediant servants of the rich. No reason for a mere truck driver to think OR comment. His dumb ideas are not even considered by the Rich and Educated who are Designing the NEW TRUCKING..where everything and everybody is Watched and Monitored…..they laugh at words like “independent” and WildCatter……they only want obediant Yes Boys…..the NEW HIGH TEC TRUCKING will be like Fed Ex and UPS…….face the facts.

  • guest

    High Tech “coolies” is what they want…slaves. Wear a “coolie” hat like the Chinese wore and YOU will be more “onboard” with the execs. lol

  • guest

    OBEY!!! COMPLY!!!! CONFORM!!!……be a good Roboton!! lol

  • guest

    “round back driver” you will hear over the PA at the chicken coop….and lots of laughter and high Fiving goin on a they make a Fool out of the trucker.
    Its all a JOKE today…the trucker is the last to know…as usual. The trucker will continue to suffer ABUSE and Humiliation as usual.

  • Tom T

    The Constitution gave Congress the right to regulate interstate commerce however, the founding fathers never intended that they

    take away the individual freedoms and rights of citizens and

    truck drivers, regardless of what many people and companies

    believe, are NOT a subclass of citizens. The government will

    keep pushing the envelope as far as we allow them and from

    the looks of things they are well beyond the limits and still

    pushing. No end in sight and it started with the invasive

    truck searches and payola scandal of the 80s by the Tenn.
    and continues today in Minn and many other states.

  • jjg614

    their going to bit off more than they can chew,meaning you want these electronic logs don’t cry when there’s a BIG shortage of driver’s

  • bigred

    Let me put this as gently as possible MIKEY…….How the HELL can a company pay you MORE if all these rules cut the amount of freight you pick up and deliver?????

  • bigred

    LOL,,,,AZZBAG…..I am sure you are one of those 21 year old “INDOCTRINATED” steering wheel turners, fresh out of driving school, does not have a dime in his pocket, lives in that truck for months at a time, will never have anything, will make a big company rich, and sit in a parking lot most of the week Screaming<<<<I AM A PROFSSIONAL TRUCK DRIVER

  • Slowpoke

    I don’t buy the numbers of O/O would leave. It’s just a few guys whining. Landstar O/O run the ELD. It makes you run harder and faster. But at the end of the day it’s better. Now embrase the ELD an change the hours of service back to when I started in 1990. 8 hr break ca be split an 34hr restart. An get rid of the two 1-5 period crap.

  • Charles F. Hines

    Truly, If the FMCSA is all about safety and the safety advocates are about safety then consider these two options. First eliminate mileage pay.Second. Since prepass, Ezpass, fueling stops and elogs are used for enforcement purposes, why not use them for payroll as well. If taxis have meters that can charge by time or distance based on speed,why not do the same for trucking. Since drivers are required to log all of the time that they are on duty, it would make sense to get paid while sitting at a shipper or receiver plus the time that you are sitting in non moving or very slow traffic. That would eliminate the incentive for a driver to speed and thus reduce the accident rates to levels never seen before. Any thoughts?

  • Darkrystal

    Isn’t this type of thing a violation of the fifth amendment? For that matter isn’t a log book a violation also?

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