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. 


Attention to detention: Solutions to the problem of uncompensated time, part 1

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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. 


Panel: Hours rule hurting safety, pushing drivers out of industry

The latest hours of service rule is pushing older, experienced drivers out of the industry, which will take a toll on safety, a panel of ...

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. 


  • bigred

    When you let everyone but Seasoned Truck Drivers make the rules…..You will lose everytime, but we don`t know anything and we are getting hammered with the new CSA points and roadside inspections.When we are forced with the Elogs, we will be gone as Flexibility to do this job is gone…

  • James Cox

    This is why I left big rigs, and got into Class C Hot Shots. Far less regulations, many states don’t require me to stop at scales, and I’m netting $1.25+ per mile.

  • idontknowyou

    We all have to deal with regulation in our business. Welcome to the dance folks.

  • Redjeb Mehmet

    14 hour clock is dangerous and unsafe. This is not a 9-5 job. A driver should be able to pull over and rest as long as he feels fit without being penalized for it. Drivers are driving tired trying to get there miles done before the 14 hour clock deadline.

  • John Scott

    What I hate is that EOBR try to micro manage a driver. How many times have we as drivers drove a little longer to avoid a storm or get to a safer place. Now the box tells us we stop when we have too not because its the best place. The box can’t tell what is what. Its a timer and nothing more. A clock watcher and nothing more. The real world does not always work that way. The real world of work does not always work like a clock. Fix the rest of trucking before subjecting drivers to a micro managed world.

  • MercenaryMan

    Hotshots require long waits and most guys who drive the T/T wont wait, it takes a different driver to do expedite, 2 days waiting, three days driving, etc….and then sleeping in a van on a hammock over the cargo is fun too….

  • John Scott

    We are being managed al the time by a schedule. However the conflicts of those schedules and delays are the enemy to any EOBR system. Its always going to be a Achilles heal because it demands a rigid schedule and the rest of trucking is not.

  • Bam113

    Spot on! Redjeb, I’ve been preaching the same about this stupid rule from the beginning.

  • ilovdieselsmoke

    so glad i don’t yet have this BS to put up with, my 1982 tractor rides-drives like a new one. my trailer is a 1983 Ravens, no payments, no on board electronics,(unless you count a 28 year old CB and a AM/FM Stereo) most everything on truck & trailer can be worked on with a few simple hand tools, 450 HP, 6.4 miles to the gallon. the day when they mandate every truck and truck driver to become a government clone from the same cookie cutter is the day my truck becomes licensed as a leisure vehicle, i join the social welfare system and just go fishing,hunting,raising veggies.. screw those a$$hole$ in DC.. we have attorneys & bankers running this country now. common sense has been abolished in DC taken over by greed!!!!!!

  • Keith Birmingham

    In the 35 years I spent in the driver’s seat the only thing that ever got better was the ride. The industry was bleeding out long before I even hit the road. My only question is: how long will it really take for day cabs to be the only trucks on the road? Unionization was and is the plan behind CSA, the little black box, the HOS, and all of the other crap drivers are putting up with today. I’m happy to be out of it. I would never have joined a union. They are too much like our government. Corrupt to the core.

  • henry

    i drove from 1964 to 1988 i drove local, short line and otr. i would not even think about being a drive wiht the new rules and regs they have. your not going to make a good living and thats the reason most truckers drive.

  • TWade

    Remember the good old days before elogs and CSA. When drivers would drive with a illegal log and then falsify all information for the company so that the company could say that their drivers don’t run illegal for the DOT. Or you would sit at the shipper/reciever for free but falsify your logs so that you could still make some money for the day by running for 16 to 24 hours a day. And you would the companies favorite driver because you would do this days on end and pay for all tickets out of your own and let them put the points on your licences. Yes the good old days.

    But now in this terrible world the company is just as liable as the driver for these illegal actions that used to be the way that companies would use drivers to make a profit. And now it’s terrible that drivers are expecting to get paid for wait time and for a increase in pay due to not being able to run 24 hours a day.

    And the sad part is that some drivers want to run more hours instead of demanding more money per mile. Wake up drivers the company wants to change the rules back so that you can run 24 hours a day and make more profits at your expense.

  • Common sense

    It is not a law to have E-logs….why have them??
    Seems to me the company’s using them have picked their own poison.

  • Shawn L Hubbard

    Umm….when did they start letting 18 year olds drive interstate? I thought you could only drive intrastate until you were 21. Did the law change when I wasn’t paying attention?

  • Walter Briggs

    as you at over drive sit thinking about hernandez story, understand 2014 it will be worse. the onset of obamacare taking full hold on underpaid employees will devastate this bleak scenario. not to forget that since highway “safety” advocates have been emboldened by ferraro, they will once again attack this industry. the original idea behind de- regulation was to address the areas of dispatcher abuse of drivers, didn’t happen. the abuse of drivers by shippers and receivers never happened. instead we, the driver get accused of violating rules than newbies find unbelievable, and veterans find dictatorial. and now that these new rules are proving to be unsafe, where are the advocates wanting to say,” it’s in the interest of driver’s health.” ? I have quit promoting anybody get into trucking, because I cant see asking any kid put him, or herself under rules that remove the dignity of this job. I’ve been in this industry since 1976, and this last round is both juvenile, and not for the safety of anybody, least of all the driver. this is pure democrat politics.

  • USMC 69-75

    I love the look on dot’s face when I tell them them I don’t have a log, e or other wise! No IFTA or IRP either. Then I ask them to give me a dot inspection…..blows their minds!


    Never being in a Union, you don’t know wtf your talking about.

  • JB

    Tell all that to the two Bull Haulers that passed me going about 90MPH last night in Iowa, I doubt they know what a limiter, dampener, or e log or otherwise is…..

  • Red Light Bandit

    I started driving in 1975. June. Went to a dealership, saw a 1969 White COE as a dealer special for $5000. Bought it, and learned how to drive a tractor and shift a 10 speed, on the way home. Diesel was about 50 cents a gallon, everyone idled their engines all day.

    Now that I am getting up in years, I stay local, get every every single night or day – depending the hours of the delivery. I don’t leave the state.

    My free time is spent with family – being there to see my kids grow, before it’s too late and they left the house – without really knowing me.

    I attend school. This old trucker has managed to get up into the Master’s – Graduate spectrum of academia. M.I.S. – a mix of computers and business. Already have 36 hours with a 3.50 GPA. Completed a certificate already, just 3 courses shy of a Master’s Degree.

    Never was much money to be made in trucking, and there still isn’t. A load may sound like a decent amount to deliver – but if all the the factors of the equation are plugged in – waiting time, loading time, unloading time, possible deadhead, or worse – return empty – and all the hours are added up of “being on the job” out there in the truck, sitting, waiting driving, sleeping: it works out to less than minimum wage.

    Carriers have always found ways to compensate drivers in a myriad of schemes – but rarely on a per hour basis. They have reason why. the amount of hours on the road add up – to a lot.

    Sitting in traffic on an interstate, rush hour, driving 5mph in bumper to bumper traffic is a good example. Time is being used up. No miles are made. 5mph for 1 hour at 40cpm = 90 cents.
    Joe trucker made almost $1.00 for that entire hour idling and barely moving in traffic. How much did he use in fuel. More than $1.00.

    Best times were 75mph on the open interstate. Free open road, no traffic – posted limit of 75mph, no cop worries – that’s the money maker.

  • James Cox

    I have absolutely none of those issues. What I do love is, no IFTA, an average MPG of 15, and even with a smaller pay load capacity, I still net a bring home average of $2,500 – $3,000 per week. I drive when and where I want. My maintenance costs are 1/4 of what a big rig is. All in all, I am in the top 2% of pay in the nation for truckers income. Add to that, my income from my primary business, and everything is wonderful. Now, as soon as we can get Obama removed from office, life will be perfect.

  • norman ott

    The idea behind all of the new regulations is to get rid of the older more experienced drivers, they are not wiling to conform to the new way of trucking. and they don’t want us to tell the newer drivers how it was in the good ol days.

  • John Mueller, CDS COSS

    “Everyone in the supply chain benefits from uncompensated detention time – except the driver”.

    The Carrier loses also. Think about the loss of driver and equipment not generating revenue when detained by shippers and consignees.

  • Andrea Sitler PhD DsC

    Once upon a time trucking was field in which you could make a solid living and support your family. You were a trusted member of society and the highway hero. Today, you are the outlaw that is babysat ever mile along the way. You are treated like a juvenile delinquent and prosecuted like a mass murderer. Yet the industry wonders why there is a shortage of quality drivers. Who in their right mind, that had any other choice, who still work in this field? The HOS are insane these days, big brother is in your cab (especially so in the case of the dash cam) and your home time is more sparse than ever. There is no longer any respect for the men and women who bring us everything we own. They are pushed out, shunned and shat upon at every turn. Yet every day the general public wants more and more out of these road warriors. Time for a reality check here from the industry, the public, the government and the drivers themselves.

  • PT Trucker

    They probably like their jobs too!



  • flatbedder

    I have been driving for 27yrs an it is getting worse every year.I thank all the drivers a cross the country should park these trucks for 30 days to show this country an washington who makes this country run.

  • USMC 69-75

    Typical wannabe… was entirely up to the driver as it is today, the equipment is unsafe, it’s YOUR responsibility not the bosses to either make sure it’s right or refuse to drive it, the same with your logs. If the company tried to make you run illegal, call the dot and go home, find a job that suits your morals and ethics. You want to run hard, your choice, not big government. Wannabes?????

  • Kevin

    I went OTR with Werner for 6 months and it was the worst company I have ever worked for. For three months out, they would let me spend my reset at home once. They use people just out of school as driver trainers because it is cheaper than hiring teams. They are scum and they wonder why there is a driver shortage.

  • Kevin

    Are you seriously trying to blame the trucking situation on Obama? What a f%&^ing moron…

  • Kevin

    I’m in a union and I think they’re great. They (for the most part) stick up for me with the company and I have a whole lot of benefits you’re probably not getting for 2 hours worth of pay per month. I think I’ll stick with it while you believe the GOP crap they’re feeding you.

  • haller

    Ferro in charge of trucks,,, I don’t think so. You end up with the mess We Truckers are in.. Doesn’t bother Ferro, her friends still think she”s doing a bang up job.. I say have Mike Ditka or Jesse Ventura as FMCSA Administrator and put Anne Ferro in charge of flowers on the off ramps. Of course you realize this is just MY opinion. haller

  • haller

    your full of crap. haller

  • haller

    thats it,,, I’m getting 3:26 drivers and tall rubber. haller

  • James Puckett

    The day I go on eobr,s is the day I quit driving. I have had enough of their stupid rules and hassels. I don,,t recommend any one to start driving a truck.

  • Steve LaFleur

    The 14 hour rule is because of the select few “hard runners” who took a ditch nap or better yet, cleaned out a toll booth falling asleep at the wheel.

    I’m far from a wannabe. 34 years in the seat, ex-long haired outlaw, staying awake for 3 days at a time because you “got it done” and you used what you could to assist you. The shippers and receivers have dicked us around ever since a forklift has burned propane.

    I just refused to pull a trailer today with a bypassed air bag on the suspension. They didn’t fire me, in fact I was commended for doing the right thing.

    I don’t run illegal, and am on EOBR’s. I gross between $1300 – $1800 a week as a company driver. Maybe people just need to ramp up their game, keep a good CSA score and work hard.

    The biggest crybabies in the industry are typically the ones who can’t drive their way out of a paper bag.

  • Steve LaFleur

    That’s a tin foil hat theory. The older experienced drivers are the backbone of the industry, and most of us have learned to adapt to the new regulations.

  • Stormy

    And the rate of accidents have gone up since all these safety measures have been put into place.

    We don’t run EOBRs, we don’t put cameras in the cab of the trucks to watch our ddrivers or listen in on their conversations. We expect our privacy and we respect our driver’s right to the same. If we are hitting Houston, Chicago, Atlanta or any other major city during peak hours we try to find a place to park to wait it out, even if we have already had or it isn’t time for our 30 minute break.

    If we have a problem with our truck or trailer on the way we sometimes have to wait for some place to open to get it fixed

    If we get delayed at a shipper we let the broker /receiver to let them know and we get there as soon as we safely can. If you have ever ordered anything with expedited shipping, stop complaining. Lives are at risk so you aren’t inconvenienced.

    Find the machine that can take into consideration all these problems OTR drivers deal with and handle on a daily basis and let me know when it hits the market. Until then I would really appreciate the government staying out of my trucks and let us do our job. Somehow we have done just fine since 1980 without all this help to save us from ourselves.

    My name is not Julie and I do not need the government to take care of me from cradle to grave. They certainly haven’t done a very good job until now and certainly don’t seem to be improving.

  • John Moore

    Why is it that everyone can see what the problem is – except the idiots who make the rules.

  • Johnboy

    If you cross a state line you have to do IFTA and most of the other rules that big trucks do I know I drive a hotshot

  • guest

    carriers make sure that their drivers are pressured enough to force themselves to make up for that lost time so as not to be left without a job.

  • James Cox

    Correct about IFTA if you are a Class A, but Class C is exempt. I know, because I have been doing it for 15 years.

    Most scales wave us through, but I do keep paper logs.

  • Bryan

    Thanks to my union I no longer have my great benefits, job security and all the rest of the perc’s that I used to enjoy.

  • haller

    wait a second I have to put my boots on.

  • steve aka hillbilly trucking

    ok, not a problem, i,ll park for 30 days, but some other idiot will move my freight while i,m parked? why? because he,s got truck payments and he,s afraid of loosing SAID truck

  • Trick1

    I think its going to go Military, the trucks for troops agenda, when people step out for not wanting to follow the rules, just think the Military already gets paid and can scout the country in trucks with their AR15s and follow orders.

  • James Cox

    Jealous much? You should be.

  • Ralph

    dumb ass. He has been a driver for 18 years

  • chuck

    The federal crusaders have gotten everything they have asked for in the last 20 years. What will they do when the store doesn’t have what they need. It will come a day if the economy would not have fell on it’s face it would have been sooner than later. You will not need a strike you siply will not have enough drivers.

  • USMC 69-75

    Not yet anyway, but they are working on it…..if you don’t get it and install cameras on your drivers, you won’t be able to afford the insurance……perfect example of control by the big carriers, self insured, so they will be exempt, but force the little carriers out!

  • Jeff

    32 years, no accidents, and yet they feel like they need to tell me when to be tired. I have never, ever let anybody push me around telling me that I cant take a break when I need one. If they didnt like when I took my breaks, Id tell them where to stick it. Whats the worst that would happen? I could be unemployed for a day. strives to maintain an open forum for reader opinions. Click here to read our comment policy.