Oh around sometime this past Saturday morning I got a note from the hauler who’s been using the “Wes Memphis” name on the blog from time to time over the past couple years, since the longtime owner-operator turned company driver for a Midwest-based small-ish fleet was asked to be a part of that fleet’s test of an e-log system. He’s long now been fully on the system, as have the remainder of the fleet’s drivers. And though it hasn’t been a rosy experience all the way around by any means, the last post struck a note that spawned no shortage of reaction from Channel 19 readers.
The pseudonymous Memphis noted in his Friday post the possibility of a “new golden age of trucking.” That is, if imposed ELDs actually limit available hours in a fashion they aren’t already limited post-December 18 toward substantially better rates, and income (hardly a certainty). The idea, he said Saturday morning, was “getting some good comments around the dunk tank.”
That was a good way of putting it.
Reader Dan Hamm noted the attractions of the trucking business and being alive within it generally, wasn’t “all about the money. It’s about living my life the way I choose to live it when I’m away from home. I like to drive when I’m awake, and sleep when I’m tired. Maintaining my extremely healthy lifestyle (which likely makes me more alert and focused) is next to impossible to do when shackled with ridiculous time constraints. Additionally, I think it’s safe to say nobody ever came up on their 11- or 14-hour limit, and said, ‘I better find a place to park immediately before I fall asleep.’ Also, I’m still waiting on the study to show the effects poorly maintained roads have on driver fatigue and temperament.”
Memphis, too, noted his ambivalence about the reality that, though no small amount of pride around doing the work of trucking took a hit with the shift to e-logs, he was staring down another income year that was beating the previous ones on paper logs. Granted, Memphis’ carrier’s been involving working with customers of better scheduling, rates, drop-and-hook expansion and more — and relatively this one has been a good year compared to recent history. Memphis invoked OOIDA’s old “Run Compliant” campaign that ran in tandem with the beginning days of the oft-maligned 14-hour rule. The campaign was intended to foreground issues of “forced noncompliance” in the supply chain and encourage more owner-operators to use hours limits to the advantage of better rates.
Steve Bixler agreed with Memphis that OOIDA was “on to something” with the campaign, but added that “the fact still remains that it should be my choice, not mandatory, for me to put an ELD in my truck. End of story.”
All told, comments ranged from the laudatory to the vociferously antagonistic. Catch the full slate via this link, as well as Memphis’ original well-considered piece of writing, and a round-up of some below.
Rory Cook: Great read. Reminded me of my grandfather being put in the nursing home … I’m a fourth-gen veteran and farmer/truck driver in my family. Born and raised on a Missouri farm. I grew up in a cabover and skipped many days of school just to get to “go west.” I never thought I’d see the fore generation lay down and roll over. Those guys were my ideal. I wanted to be them as a child. This absolutely disgusts me that drivers are buying into this kinda government bullying. You all have forgot what it meant to make a hand! We’re living in a time of laziness and weak-minded individuals. All for me, the hell with you — or so it seems. I sincerely hope some of you read this and it takes you back to your early days and memories of when things were good. Those days are only over because you allow them to be. I know drivers that do it just like it’s been done for the last 70 years on a daily basis. If you’re one of them, I commend you. Stand up for yourself. No voice is too soft! Make America great again. God bless. –Superman
Damien: I wasn’t born in the day of the mythical “golden” age of trucking, but I understand that no blood, sweat or tears = no pride in the job done. Thanks to all the old-timers who didn’t speak up I have to be a true professional daily, more so than any stretch of time during my career in the military, and abide by rules that were put into place long before I showed up to drive. I don’t mind ELDs, but damn the HOS rules. I don’t like being told what speed to max at, so I bought my own truck. I don’t like van politics and scheduling, so I bought a step deck. I say no to cheap freight, unreasonable shippers/receivers’ appointments and lying agents.
Choices: when you do not have the ability to say no, you might as well say you’re not grown-up enough to play with the big dogs. If you don’t have a choice by your own workplace decisions, it’s not your place to tell others how or what they should be doing to succeed.
Keep on trucking, Wes, and live as you see fit. Excellent story!
Wayne: Nowadays, if you can think for yourself and run your business in the green, the big companies do not want you out here. Unless their accounts are in fear of being lost due to late deliveries. Then us old-timers are needed to save them. We are not yes people. We do want we need to do and say no to more regulations, cheap rates, and BS. Companies want drivers who will not resist the companies’ way of thinking. They want yes people. Like sheep, just follow, never get ahead, hold your steering wheel and shut up. The paycheck is sent on Friday! I am an independent for years now. I do not need more management in my operation. It is doing fine!
Jeff Clark: Interesting how Wes has evolved with the ELD. When you first get them, they make you a bit of a nervous wreck. The numbers on the machine are in your face and they bother you. It takes a few weeks, but you get used to it. After a year or so – you like having the info right there. This industry will evolve after December 18 when we all have limited time and that time has increased value.
RC: Propaganda is all this is. E-logs aren’t going to work for everyone every day. People who actually have a life outside their truck are going to lose some of it. Here’s a scenario that will happen a lot — got to call the wife, or kids, or grandkids, to tell them, ‘Hey I can’t be there for whatever special event or reason, etc., because I’m 45 minutes away and my clock ran out. So here’s my choice — stop for 10 hours and miss life, or screw it and drive on home in violation of rules no other person in the world would live or put up with.’ The holier than thous … will squawk all day long about all you cheaters, like it affects them somehow. It’s really none of their damn business. Also honestly, independent owners really shouldn’t have to keep a log or have set hours anyway. It’s our business, and we know how to take care of it and ourselves without an outsider without a clue looking over our shoulder. It’s gonna hurt income and opportunities to a certain point for most everyone, but the inflexibility with respect to real life is the part that bothers me more. If I’m a “cheater” to make it to my grandkids’ baseball or basketball game, well, I guess I am. Not gonna lose any sleep over the crybabys who can’t deal with it.
Robert Smith: Most of you drivers complaining about this story just aren’t capable of getting it… . Great writing, “Wes.” Stay off the back row!