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ELDs and driver harrassment: Webinar upcoming; voices raised against the mandate

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Qualcomm Mcp50

The Omnitracs company, maker of the MCP and XRS electronic logging platforms, is hosting a webinar, “Driver Harassment and the ELD Mandate: What to Expect,” on Wednesday, Aug. 26. Tom Cuthbertson, vice president of regulatory affairs, will give participants perspective on the electronic logging device mandate proposed in March 2014 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. The primary focus of the session is how the mandatory use of ELDs, as expected to be addressed by the rule when it is published, is likely to account for the potential for driver harassment.

With the final rule mandating the use of ELDs by interstate truckers expected to be published next month, the webinar will review how the driver has control of his or her duty status recording, what the prohibition of driver coercion entails, and more in the mandate proposal.

The webinar, the company reports, is the fifth in a series on the impending ELD rule. Those interested in listening in or asking questions can register for the 2 p.m., Aug. 26, event free of charge via this link, the company says.

Cuthbertson has spoken about some of these issues with Overdrive before, most recently in this linked report, part of the “Early adopters” feature on the market for electronic logging devices and the relatively few owner-operators and small fleets who taken up the devices to date.

Commenting under the primary portion of the “Early adopters” story, one Overdrive reader guessed that lawsuits would follow the rule’s release: “More lawsuits coming. Not going to happen in 2017,” the commenter wrote, referencing the most recent reliable projection of the enforcement date, barring legal or other delays, as stated. As previously reported, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is taking a wait-and-see approach before addressing the potential for legal challenge. Representatives say they’re “waiting to see what’s in the final rule,” as reported here.

Most recent polling shows a share of more than 8 in 10 readers still opposing any mandate for electronic logs, continued objections on the basis of safety, cost, scheduling hassle and driver privacy dominant, among other concerns. Some readers voiced support for direct challenge of any mandate. Calling the mandate a “trampling of freedom” and taking heart in the fact that most readers are against it, another commenter noted it was “time to get mobilized. Eighty-three percent are against further regulations. This job is challenging enough!… If OOIDA intervenes with constitutional principles, I will become a lifelong member/activist to their cause. This is what the vast majority of America is sick of.”

Another commenter, posting as “Tomahawk,” noted the association “has already gotten this pushed back once. They sued in court and won. But that only pushed it back. At least they’re fighting this ‘trampling of freedom,’ as you call it.” The association’s past successful suit hinged on FMCSA’s failure to take driver harassment into account in a previous limited mandate for electronic logging devices, and with the March 2014 proposal the agency also announced a series of other proposals relative to harassment.

Following this month’s coverage of the market for ELDs in Overdrive, many readers remained defiantly opposed. Find further views from a range of readers below.

“CP3,” via Overdriveonline.com: “Shippers and receivers, this will affect you the most. [Currently,] I have the ability to plan my routes and don’t have to shut down five miles from pick-up or delivery. I will not endanger anyone or myself for any amount of money. We need new hours of service. I just don’t understand why the FMCSA thinks more gadgets in a truck makes for a better driver. Anybody who drives a truck for a living knows the hours of service is the problem. [An ELD mandate] adds to the problem. … I don’t want to sound like I’m against any kind of regulation but if one of the toughest DOT states in the USA [Oregon] made a statement I read in this magazine several months ago saying they didn’t need a e-log to check a driver’s hours — they can tell if his/her logs are falsified. Then why are drivers with clean driving records, clean inspections, no accidents in 10, 20, 30 years of service possibly being made to have an ELD? Companies who make them will profit. We can only hope that greed loses out and the real problem, a needed change of the hours of service, will be addressed.”

Jeff Williams, via Overdrive’s Facebook pagealso suggested the hours of service was the central problem: “I run e-logs and still run out of hours. What’s the big deal? The load has to be picked up and has to be unloaded whether I have hours or not. I’ll still have to get the job done.”

Jeremy Buttry, via Facebook: “If we as an industry will give the general population a dose of sticker shock on all freight, and show how e-logs can slow down shipping and increase accidents, plus cost more to ship — it’s going to have to be handled by more hands to get the same distance — then maybe they will repeal the mandate.”

Chris Harkins was skeptical. “Here’s the problem… The government never repeals anything, especially mandates… They just make the problem worse by writing more rules so it looks better on paper!”

Jeff Rutherford, via OverdriveOnline.com: “I think e-logs are a good thing to a degree. I just don’t think they should be mandated, because that is forcing us to buy a specific product whether we like it or not.”

“R.C.”: “How about an e-log for everyone? Four-wheeler can only drive for 11 hours before finding a motel for a 10-hour break. Hey, let’s be fair. Right?”

Pat Hockaday reinforced the connections between problems in the hours of service, potential CDL reform, company driver pay and ELDs, pointing out that ELDs, by the “letter of the law,” he wrote, haven’t yet been seen given the lack of a final rule. “The FMCSA is phasing them in as those who are currently using [395.15-compliant Automatic Onboard Recording Devices] will have two [extra] years to comply. I believe that we must have a discussion and look at our options” for systemic reform “before it hits the fan.” Hockaday lays out a “graduated license” system on his website attendant to what he sees as appropriate hourly company driver pay at various levels up to 500,000 miles of experience, Level 5. “I believe that level 5 drivers and up should have exemptions from the hours of service. … We need to fight to have minimum, time-based wage standards [for company drivers] in place for safety and for our survival.”

A relative few readers to one degree or another countered the chord struck by so many, via Facebook.

Scott Grafton: “I’ve been on [e-logs] for 3 years — I don’t have a problem with them.”

Jeffery David Morgan: “Been on them. The plus is your dispatcher can’t argue. That’s the only plus.”

Charles Kerr: “That and the DOT hates seeing that e-log sticker.”

Still others felt like recent device-market coverage of electronic logs served as little more than conditioning:

Kenneth Foster, via OverdriveOnline.com: “Seems like every time I’ve read an article about all these changes, it leads a person to think they’ve made it a law already. Then somewhere in the article [the writer] says something like ‘if it’s approved.’ I get the feeling it’s been a done deal a long time ago and [all the press is for] conditioning people. I’ve already told my boss: If all this passes, he has my notice. Let the produce rot.”

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