The above report from a local NBC affiliate in Miami, Fla., details the efforts of a group of drivers and owner-operators who’ve shut down through the end of the day today, at least, in protest of the electronic logging device mandate going into effect this Monday. The effort, which began on Monday as the mandate’s enforcement began slowly across the country, has featured a rally along U.S. 27, Okeechobee Blvd. in the Hialeah, Fla., community just north of Miami proper. Staged along the road near the interchange with Florida 826 were dozens of trucks and drivers, some who came in their personal vehicles, shut down in protest.
Among organizers is Fernando Collazo, a reefer-hauling owner-operator born and raised in Miami and trucking leased to a larger outfit in a 2012 Kenworth T700. Collazo and fellow anti-mandate partisans on hand were active earlier this year during the Dec. 4 coordinated media-blitz protests nationwide, and felt that making a stand beginning on the day the mandate went into effect was necessary if efforts to derail it were to ever be successful. Hoping drivers around the country would join in numbers sufficient to send a message, Collazo says the group planned to stay along the boulevard through today, some shut down through the holidays.
“A machine doesn’t have a common-sense mind,” Collazo says, raising a principal objection to the new reality being forced on truckers subject to the ELD mandate. Before the mandate, countless haulers, he adds, “were doing things with common sense and the DOT would read it [in their logbooks] and it would make sense to them. Why is it a problem now? Now, every minute” will be scrutinized, he says. Collazo has heard of drivers and carriers getting dinged for going mere “seconds over their clock” into violation. “We have 11 hours daily to drive, but now, at the 10th hour you need to go and find a parking space.”
Parking stresses are legion on the nation’s roads, and Collazo and others see them getting worse as ELDs take hold.
Various media have been on hand to report from the location, owner-operator Collazo says, including both English- and Spanish-language outfits. “In the end,” he says, the mandate “is all about revenue,” from eventual tickets for ELD noncompliance to fines levied for minor hours infractions more easily spotted within electronic systems, which Collazo emphasizes takes responsibility for compliance needlessly out of the driver’s hands. “The logbook doesn’t belong to driver anymore. It belongs to the truck,” tethered to the engine.
While there are a lot of groups around the nation against the mandate, he adds, “they aren’t communicating” effectively. “And when the time comes to act, they lose the fire. The problem is, this [needs to be] for everybody – until we all combine, this is never going to work.”
Numerous owner-operators in Overdrive‘s orbit reported having shut down the last several days, though many such declarations have been more along the lines of hanging up the keys for good. Some operators, however, have heeded the message of groups like Collazo’s and are currently shut down. A reader posting only as Dan under Overdrive‘s report on ELD-day one this Monday from a Kentucky scale house had this to say: “I have decided to shut down the next two weeks. Thus, I will not return to duty until next year. Merry Christmas and happy new year!”
“Me too,” wrote Scottie Caldwell in response. “Not doing a dang thing. I’m shut down. I’m on strike.”
It’s a convenient and oft-taken time for many to shut down, given the holiday season, which Collazo acknowledges. He also expresses exasperation over the number of anti-mandate partisans he knows had the opportunity to join the effort but didn’t. “I wish more people would shut down,” he says. “There are a lot of guys that have,” but to those who didn’t over financial worries, “I’m sorry to say that if you can’t afford to shut down for one or two days and you’ve been working all year, you’re doing something wrong in this business.”
Among those on hand were many from the local community, and also independents William and Mandi Jo Pinheiro of Twin Falls, Idaho, who’d made tentative plans to be back in Twin Falls to shut down there. The team operators have been somewhat active with ELD mandate protest efforts ongoing through the year via social media, and invited reporters and other drivers out to a truck stop in their home locale on Dec. 4 during the media blitz spurred on by anti-mandate partisans.
“William and I left Idaho with a load to Miami, Fla.,” says Mandi Jo, “in hopes to be home by the 18th to join the shut down. The trip did not go according to plan and we were welcomed” by organizers of the Miami event. “The flavor is a little different down here, but these truck drivers are fighting the exact same fight! They are courageous, in my opinion, and such a friendly group. They have dedicated 72 hours out on Highway 27 to be shutdown. That is admirable in my eyes.”
The Pinheiros, Mandi Jo says, were hopeful upon the election of a President last year who had campaigned on a deregulatory agenda they felt would quite obviously include the ELD mandate. “We honestly believed that he would throw out this terrible regulation of the implementation of the ELD,” she says. “We knew that the new rule would not be good for a small trucking company.”
Partly on the expectation of the mandate’s repeal, partly a result of a long-established plan, the two got their equipment paid off and established their own authority in January as Charleston Transport, LLC.
“The hope” remains, she adds, to “be relieved of this unsafe, unconstitutional, incredibly burdensome regulation that affects all negatively. The shutdown is a joke to some, and to others it is a means to an end. Freedoms have been taken. It doesn’t matter if you agree with that or not, it is true. Freedoms were taken back in the 1970s. If we continue to let each regulation be created and mandated for us by those who do not drive a truck, all freedoms will be gone, and not just for the truck driver. All who participate are passionate people who love what they do. They care about this industry and do not want to see it sink. Company drivers to owner-operators, if you love it, you love it. We do.”