Voices on ELDs, hours, pay as grassroots efforts begin to bear fruit

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Updated Jul 23, 2017

The following letter came in from Karen Martin of DKM Enterprises West, one of several recent letters in response to Max Heine’s July-issue “Pulse” column on underlying issues with the hours of service rule itself that drive the issues behind opposition to electronic logging devices for many. Heine offered thoughts on the future of hours of service, including the potential to allow flexibility with greater levels of proven safe experience and the like. Read his piece via this link.

Heine’s “Pulse” column in the July magazine.Heine’s “Pulse” column in the July magazine.

Our one-truck (owner operator) trucking company survives, and is successful, because of our concern for safety, skillfulness in avoiding wasted time and energy, and respect for the customers’ products we haul. With the ELD mandate, time and energy will no longer be in our control. Safety, the claim [that is made] for the ELD mandate’s existence,  is, was, and ever shall be the responsibility of the driver. A device to monitor the engine hours of operation will not make the truck or the trucking industry more safe. It will make the five largest trucking companies in the U.S. more wealthy than they already are, though.  (I couldn’t help myself with that last sentence.)

The efficiency of our truck company is a result of 39 years of driving and maintaining trucks, and our health. Your suggestion —  “Build on that move toward greater flexibility and authority to determine your schedule, and you get the graduated CDL idea. The current rule could remain, but as drivers accumulate experience and maintain a certain level of safety, they would be granted more freedom to set their own hours” — is on the right track.

I have a letter from the FMSCA that comments on our safe driving, and no violations in the 7 years we have been owner-operators. With that in mind, I would like to add to the flexibility and authority to determine the schedule idea you introduced. Why couldn’t owner-operators, such as ourselves, be granted an extension/exemption, due to our safe driving record and skill at time management?  Fact is, we are already close to retiring, but wanted to keep this up for at least two more years. We have some great customers that depend on us. Otherwise, the ELD mandate will put us out of business. —Karen Martin, DKM Enterprises West, Fennville, Mich.


More commentary under Heine’s piece on what one reader dubbed “the real problem” at the root of ELD issues, hours. Not everyone agreed, some seeing rates/money as the more bedrock issue in all the back-and-forth over ELDs and hours: 

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Maddmc: I have no problem with ELDs except they are totally unnecessary. The original intent of wanting them in every truck to keep drivers from falsifying their logs has since been eclipsed by traffic cams, CCTV at both shippers and receivers, LPRs (license plate readers), PrePass, Ipass and smartphone tracking. Anyone falsifying their logs today better hope they never get in an accident with a fatality and they’re at fault! One example was on I-55 in Illinois — several women were killed. According to the driver’s logbook he was “legal,” [but] according to several of the above-mentioned technologies … he wasn’t! He’s now in prison for I believe manslaughter. We don’t need ELDs, but now that they’re here, put the HOS rules back to what they were originally. You know, the ones that worked without a problem for literally decades and let us get back to doing what at one time most of us loved doing — safely moving this great nation’s freight!

Pat Hockaday: Why do drivers insist that the regs be adjusted to suit their need to earn a living? This is a backwards notion that drivers have been institutionalized into believing! More available working hours lowers the value of the working hour. The laws of supply and demand can not be ignored unless it is to your advantage. It is to the shippers/receivers’ advantage as well as the carriers for drivers to work more for less! Drivers’ pay is the real issue, period. We need to be able to afford to operate within the regs.

Paul Cenac: Put all the electronic monitoring devices on four-wheelers and email them tickets for speeding, erratic driving, pulling over within 100 feet of an 18-wheeler, and mandatory loss of license for every brake-checking of an 18-wheeler.

Andrei: The HOS are not the problem. I’d rather work a 20-hour work week and make the money I am making now in a 70-hour work week. The money that we get to bring home after all expenses and headaches is the problem. This is one of the major safety concerns in this industry. It doesn’t matter how many electronic devices are monitoring us, if you can barely afford monthly expenses at home, you’ll be frustrated and easily aggravated on the road. Money is the main reason that we’re doing this, and yet everybody is going back and forth with the HOS. A lot of the problems that we encounter would easily be dealt with if the money that we get for hauling freight would be what it’s supposed to be. Still wondering how come OOIDA is not putting this subject up for debate. We’re going in circles with this HOS discussion, but that’s not the problem. The “it’s all about safety” crap that all big carriers are talking about is just a way to divert everybody from the real problem in this industry: Money! It doesn’t matter how perfect my log book/e-log is, I can’t pay rent with it, can’t buy groceries, you get the idea.