Report: Open road is gone as modern trucker grapples with hours rules, e-logs and parking shortages

| November 14, 2013

dockToday’s truck driver is tired, and it’s not due to being overworked.

Such is the basic premise of an examination from the Wall Street Journal Nov. 14, which says a “confusing tangle of rules” and a myriad of devices like electronic logs and speed limiters are dampening not only the industry’s efficiency but the will of those who are and want to be truck drivers. 


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WSJ’s piece calls over-the-road drivers “a vanishing breed,” and it blames — along with the disruptive hours rule and overbearing electronics — the leverage shippers have over both drivers and the industry, reduced income, loss of home time and issues like lack of safe parking.

Unpaid detention time, to that end, also got some ink: In detailing how the hours of service rule strain impacts the industry’s per-mile pay model, both FMCSA Administrator Anne Ferro and the article touch on the fact that paying drivers by the mile strains the industry, both in terms of driver retention for fleets and the fact drivers go unpaid while dealing with shipper delays.

The WSJ weaves in the story of 18-year driver Manuel Hernandez, a company driver for Mesilla Valley Transportation and uses his struggles with regulations, e-logs and delays as examples of what the industry as a whole faces. 


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To make the e-log point known, it tells the story of Hernandez loading in El Pasa, Texas, and beginning a trek to Perris, Calif., — a 754-mile run. As he drove, the article says, “a relentless chorus of electronic beeps” hounded Hernandez, and his electronic log notified him where to get fuel and would ask for an explanation every time the truck stopped. 

Gone are the days, says the piece, of Hernandez being able to make up time spent detained by shippers or receivers by taking shortcuts or driving faster — his e-log (formerly known as electronic onboard recorder or EOBR) reports to his carrier “cheating” on his route, while the truck’s speed limiter won’t let him drive faster than 64.5 mph. 

Also, since the new hours rules took effect July 1, Hernandez often has to skip his trips home to see his wife, because he’s stranded and out of hours, causing him to sometimes sit for 48 hours at truck stops before making it home for just a 10-hour visit with his family. 

The article delves into tough roadside inspections and even underfunded rest stops that lead to parking shortages. Click here to read the WSJ story. 


  • USMC 69-75

    That’s true Steve, and I commend you for standing up and refusing to haul a bad trailer…..did that when I was leased to the pumpkin years ago (long story). They wanted me and my new fiance to take a loaded trailer from West Memphis to LA, did my per-trip, brakes were about 1/4 thick. Refused the load and they made us sit till the next morning, but some company driver hooked to it and down the road it went. The mechanic told the dispatch that the brakes were still in reg, I told dispatch….Yeah! Till you hit your brake once or twice and it jumps the cam???? Especially going to CA.
    But because of a few idiots (wannabes) in any profession, and just drivers in general, you CAN NOT pass bills to fix stupid, just generate more money and control the little guy. That is why this e-log carp is a joke, as well as all this epa Def carp. To much big government, and to much control!
    People need to take control of their own destiny, not government, or we’ll all just be subjects and not free men and women!

  • USMC 69-75

    OMG…Mike Ditka or JV….Please!

  • USMC 69-75

    I don’t know about adapting Steve, but like the old paper log, learning our ways around them! I’m no conformist, been in this over 40 years and like doing what works for me, not big brother! That in mind…..I love going into the scale house and asking for a DOT inspection….why? I know my equipment and it raises both my CVSA and MCS150 score (but if they see something I missed, they usually inform me and that’s it, because it’s not an out of service problem…..don’t let things get that far!), nothing like having a 100% score, no hassles, but on my terms! That why I run under my numbers!

  • USMC 69-75

    The oldest “EXCUSE” in history!

  • TWade

    Yes, it was a choice back then, as it is now. I was speaking about the good old days concerning companies, not drivers. When today they, the companies, are crying about the system when they used drivers for years with the same rules as today but these fines all went to the drivers not companies. Now they want to whine. The same as the drivers whining about getting tickets or fines when they get caught. It was the drivers decision to break the law and they should be man enough to face up to the facts, but most are not that big of a man. After reading some of your other post it’s amusing that you call others “wannabes”.

  • USMC 69-75

    TW, that is just what I’m saying…..the drivers not being man enough for not standing up, and taking responsibility for their actions….always somebody else’s fault! The company’s are just following the reg set before them, as a rule. There are a lot of them that are as crooked as the drivers hauling for them, they get caught, Oh well!
    You log detention time, prove it with dock time, you call your company on it, you unload, you log it you get paid, you spend the time in the sleeper, but want to get paid???? I get detention time after 2 hours, but I also run for myself, when I was a lease operator, I would either get detention time after 2 hours, or not haul the load, again! Yes I would run as long as I’m not tired, but when I’m tired I’m in the bunk, sleeping. Everybody’s body clock is different, and can’t be put in the same box called e-log! Just like the the drivers I see with a phone next to their head or texting and driving….I call their company, and guess what , they have a policy against that. Why? I can think of 11,000 reasons why, and any company driver out there that can afford the $2,700 fine, should be able to buy a 30 dollar blue tooth. Call me a tattle tale, I call it saving somebody’s life!

    You can read all my posts, nothing I have said, says otherwise, unless you take it out of context…… Mister wannabe! But I’d be willing to bet, I have more miles backing up, than you have going forward!


    The government is going to put the OO out of business with over regulation. Thats what they want, control. can anyone say socialisum?

  • carl larsen

    the foolish driver blames the DOT and government for the trials and tribulations of the trucking industry. a wise driver should blame the trucking companies and brokers. how many of us get paid for the actual miles we drive? they can tell when we are off route by a tenth of a mile but they cant translate that accuracy into the pay system? we sit for hours denied detention. in my case, about 15% of my work i do for free because the company is either to dishonest, or too cheap to pay for the work i do. if an hourly wage worker were to get paid for 7 hours after putting in 8, he would have procedures to correct the problem. truckers don’t. by focusing our ire on the hours of service and electronic logs we are, in essence, saying we want to work more hours for free. we should demand to get paid for what we already do, before demanding more time to do it.

  • Coffeeclue

    Sad… but if it’s so bad, why are there more and more drivers entering the business? Driver shortage? I don’t think so. There are plenty of applicants to fill the seats of “seasoned” drivers. Do you know how to run a trucking business better than the company you’re working for? Buy your own truck and go independent. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

  • Coffeeclue

    You mean the good ole days when truckers ran 36 hours straight on chicken dust and nobody cared? Or maybe the days when they decided to get together at a local bar after a long day and get wasted, only to start driving again at 5am?

  • norman ott

    Yep, them are the days I was talking about. Did we run together?

  • olkijuhy

    Gee, I can’t imagine why it’s hard to find new drivers, can you?
    After all, completing a 750 miles trip doing the breakneck speed ot 64 mph, in your 11 hours, all the while being hassled at every stop and turn in the road?
    Who in their right mind would turn at adventure like that down, all for the big insane wage of about $7 an hour?

  • jose

    my live had change totaly ,my income ,time with my family,living under total control and i am feeling like a robot,my live is in danger now when driving and falling sleep

  • Drill Sergeant 1994

    i’m quitting as soon as I turn 55, i can’t take this shit ‘NO-MORE’ fed the fuck up!

  • johnny dark

    wish i could read the article without having to subscribe to the wall street journal.

  • O’Riley

    Coffeeclue, you have no clue….

  • gahalfbreed57

    you hit it right on the button thats why us older drivers get out i have 20 yrs

  • Betty Boop

    Hey, Hey, watch the language Ralphy.

  • Betty Boop

    Yea that’s what I wanna do, work 16 to 24 hours a day. SMH!

  • Betty Boop


  • matt

    Coffeeclueless, I owned a very successful trucking company that was ranked top carrier multiple years for a fortune 500 company. Im 3rd generation and after 15 years of owning it one breach of contract costing a couple million can take its toll. I decided the risk was to great compliance to costly and I could make an executive salary going corporate without having to worry about the 3 oclock phone ringing scaring me to death one of my 60 guys might be hurt or hurt someone . That being said you speak like a steering wheel holder driving an automatic. We lost drivers a while ago. You know the guys that could change a marker light, a windshield wiper, run ether, change a fuel filter…..the basics. These are Truck Drivers…….the guys coming in to replace the “Seasoned Drivers” cant find the battery box or jump to the starter.

  • matt

    But to the vets, we honestly cannot do it like we used to. Traffic has grown exponentially. Its not like driving down the road during the 70s and 80s. There has to be a medium. And one more point to coffee….attitude like that keeps you from learning from the vets. Guys like you unload salads, go pick up frozen chickens forgetting to set the temp and walla you delivered cooked birds 600 miles later. Cooked and not even seasoned. Ill take my seasoned birds any day.

  • Coffeeclue

    I speak the way I do because I drive my own truck, not someone else’s. I do most of my own repairs and I book all loads myself. I’m hardly a steering wheel holder and no, my truck is not an automatic. I also had the “seasoned” drivers working for me. Never again. It seems the more experience the driver has, the more ways he has to cheat you, steal from you, leave your truck on the other side of the country etc. Things happen on the road and the driver should be able to handle them, just like I handle them now myself. I’m perfectly happy running my own one man business and my customers are perfectly happy with me. I’ve had several careers in the past and trucking is one that allows me to make excellent money, and not have anyone over my shoulder. I work as much as I want (usually a lot), but I also choose carefully what I do. I love this business and every time I hear drivers complaining, it’s their way to blame someone else for their inability to take control of their own lives. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.