Oct. 20–While bigger trucking companies advocate for installation of electronic logging devices to record how long drivers are behind the wheel, owner-operators and smaller companies have come out strongly against the devices.
A story published in Tuesday’s Daily Item and posted online about the devices and a bill in Congress to delay their installation sparked a flood of more than 100 tweets and several emails from opponents.
“And as always — The ATA (American Trucking Associations) and its associate members do not tell the whole truth here,” trucker Les Willis of Sulphur Springs, Texas, wrote in an email. “The ELD is a Great Freight Management system. Is it necessary for the other 85% of the trucking industry that are most generally 8 trucks or less? I think not.”
Willis said advocates don’t mention that any ELD manufacturer does not have to meet any type of security level and or UL Safety rating.
“They also don’t tell you that the unfunded mandate is going to cost an estimated 1.5 billion dollars directly from transportation to save 26 lives per year. More Americans die from bee and wasp stings per year than they are projecting to save. Has anyone ever heard of fiscal responsibility?”
“If a driver is sick he doesn’t have the ability to lay down and take a nap in hopes of waking to a much better stomach ache,” tweeted driver Tyler Spencer, of Barman, Okla. “If it’s blizzard-like conditions that computer doesn’t care. If it says drive you drive. The negative impacts this mandate will have far outweigh the good. It’s not only truckers that will pay the price if the mandate is pushed through. The consumer is going to catch the brunt of it. Rates will go up causing a snowball effect, you could expect to see $6/gal gas, $8/gal milk etc., etc.”
“Some idiot honestly believes a damn computer knows when I should sleep?” Joshua Dunn, of Illinois, asked in a tweet. “As well the ticking clock forces me to drive when I know I’m tired … ELD are a damn joke.”
“Don’t believe the pro-ELD dummies,” tweeted Josh Lacy, a trucker from Springville, Ala., “it was designed to monopolize the trucking industry.”
Kevin Morris, of Minnesota, a trucker of 20 years, tweeted, “So many lies & false info from the ATA. They only have the large & mega fleets interests in mind, not small biz owners as myself.”
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, of Grain Valley, Mo., tweeted, “A diverse coalition of 31 groups outside trucking opposes this costly mandate. No safety benefits as ELD only tracks location and movement.”
Sean McNally, spokesman for the American Trucking Associations, which supports the mandate to require the ELDs, said the new devices will actually save drivers time because they will spend less time filling out paper logs.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has stated the devices will save the industry more than $1 billion a year, mostly by reducing the amount of required paperwork, and save 26 lives and 562 injuries a year.
Attempts to reach McNally for followup comments for this story were unsuccessful, though he said previously the devices were becoming more common, despite some initial resistance.
The ELDs would replace the paper logs on which many truck drivers still record their hours driving and are easier to falsify if a driver stays on the road longer than the 14-hour limit.
Truck drivers can be paid by the mile, hour, load or other ways. If they are paid by the mile, they can earn more the more miles they drive in a shorter time.
The new federal rule requiring trucking companies to install ELDs in each vehicle is scheduled to go into effect on Dec. 18 — unless Congress acts on a bill to delay the rule for two years.
U.S. Rep. Brian Babin, a Texas Republican, introduced the ELD Extension Act of 2017. The bill currently is with the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, according to congress.gov. Babin has indicated the rule would place a burden on smaller carriers.
“If trucking companies want to continue implementing and using ELDs, they should go right ahead,” he was quoted by online publication fleetowner.com. “But for those who don’t want the burden, expense and uncertainty of putting one of these devices into every truck they own by the end of the year, we can and should offer relief.”
Some companies, such as Watsontown Trucking in Milton, already have installed the electronic devices, which not only automatically log how many hours a driver has been on the road, but also keep track of fuel economy, provide driving directions and perform several other functions, such as keeping track of where each vehicle is.
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