Oct. 07–Hundreds of truck drivers assembled with their tractors and rigs at Yuba City’s Tierra Buena Sikh temple Friday morning to protest new trucking regulations they say will make road safety worse.
“This ELD (electronic logging device) has nothing to do with safety,” Jaspreet Dhadwal of Yuba City said. “(Truckers) are going to push harder to fit within that time frame.”
Starting Dec. 18, big rigs must have an electronic logging device that tracks how many hours the trucker is using the vehicle. The goal is to “create a safer work environment for drivers,” according to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s website.
The law has been in the “awareness and transition” phase since December 2015, with voluntary use of the devices. In December, the timeline moves into mandatory use of the devices with existing automatic onboarding recording devices (that are grandfathered in for two years), before transitioning into the full compliance phase in 2019. Drivers currently use pen and paper to fill out driving logs.
Truckers are allowed to work 14-hour days, but can drive no more than 11 hours and have to take a break after eight hours. The new devices will work on an automatic 14-hour timer, opponents say, not taking into consideration congested traffic, lack of rest stops and other hazards.
“We already know that this is not going to work,” said Hardeep Singh Batther of Yuba City. “The question is — do you get sleep when you’re sleepy, or go to sleep when the law tells you to?”
Protesters and their trucks left from the temple mid-morning to pass by Yuba City City Hall on Civic Center Boulevard, then headed to Sacramento to meet with more big rigs. From there, they planned to drive down to Fresno, to bring as much awareness to their cause as possible.
Truckers spent the morning decking out their trucks with American flags and homemade signs, one reading, “Truckers are not criminals! Don’t try to unconstitutionally track us,” and another: “Without trucks you would be homeless, hungry.” The protest is part of the national trucking organization called Operation Black and Blue.
Opponents say the device will cost anywhere between $5,000 and $10,000, plus monthly fees, which will in turn cause inflation that will add costs to residents.
“Everyone’s going to pay for it,” Sahota said. “We’re not just (protesting) for us… we’re doing it for the public.”
The Yuba City demonstration brought truckers from all over the state, including the Bay Area, Stockton, Fresno and Sacramento. Around 300 protestors took to Fresno City Hall on Thursday to picket against the new federal regulation.
“They want us to wake up to the machine, but that’s not us” said Karam Singh of Stockton. “We’re human beings, too.”
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