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ELD Mandate-The controversy and affects of driver accountability



Qualcomm EOBRThe discussion of EOBR’s (now labeled ELD’s or electronic logging devices) continues and many drivers are as angry and frustrated as ever.  As far back as I can remember I can not recall a topic creating more controversy or heated arguments.

The idea sounds logical and simple: place an electronic device on the truck which will increase safety by ensuring that drivers are compliant and accountable to the Hours of Service rule. This will make sure that drivers get the rest they need and roads will be safer. Makes sense, right?  For most who have never operated a CMV it does, and the thought of anyone being opposed to such a device to increase safety is unheard of to many. So what’s the problem?

Why then are drivers so opposed to ELD’s? Is it the principal of having your privacy invaded?  Will ELD’s actually cause an even greater safety risk and if so, how? Will ELD’s create more costs for many whose profits are already suffering?  Will they drastically decrease wages earned? And the most devious of all, “Will ELD’s prevent drivers from “cheating” on their logs?” Why would a driver want to DO THAT?

Recently a thread was started on LinkedIn asking a question by James Lamb of and AIPBA. The title of it alone pulled an emotional chord:

“Is opposition to the new electronic logging proposal grounded in truckers being upset this removes their ability to squirm out of HOS regs, fudge log books & falsify business records (commit fraud)?”

As most know, threads on LinkedIn usually do not receive the level of response that FaceBook receives, however, this thread received over 100 comments, many from drivers and company owners like myself. I personally voted “NO” on this poll and commented why (comment included safety and harassment).  As the thread began to evolve, many of the comments began to go in the direction of driver wages and increased safety risk.

I then posted this question on FaceBook:

If drivers were paid for All their time, would EOBR’s be less of an issue/concern or still the same? Let’s “assume” the driver harassment issue is resolved when answering.  Owner Operators still have to deal with the Cost.

The thread received over 300 responses and if I had to sum them up (you need to read them), I’d say this:  EOBR’s do affect driver wages and hold only the DRIVER accountable, not the other major players who are  involved in load logistics: shippers, receivers, dispatch, brokers, carriers.

An article by Jeff Clark best explains one aspect of this: The Mandate.”  Without a doubt driver wages, including paying drivers for all their time, came out ahead.
Jeff Head has been writing for years about the challenges drivers face in his book, “Running Legal Blues”  and in his very vocal social media threads.

Richard Wilson of TCRG Consulting has been urging drivers, even volunteering his own time, in attempts to encourage them to be more vocal on the FMCSA website comment periods.

During this thread Mr James Lamb introduced this plan which provoked the interest of many (including myself): “We will be launching a new paradigm designed to increase independent driver pay in the coming months. We are not ready to disclose the details but we will introduce the new brand at MATS during the AIPBA seminar. In time it will pull company driver pay up too. You’re gonna like this, truckers…”

Another relevant point made is that by enforcing ELD’s, the actual safety of the driver is compromised, not taking many variables into account: lack of truck parking, weather, delays at docks and so-forth.

So is a valid question, “Is the present HOS rule ONLY affecting and creating accountability to the driver when enforcing ELD’s?”

There are so many facets to include when looking at what is included in the effects of ELD’s. Every segment of the industry has an affect on the other. Driver wages, cheap freight, HOS, ELD’s, lack of truck parking (and no, it’s not always because the driver has not planned his or her trip properly), forced dispatch, lack of detention time compensation, cdl training (yes, that plays a part too). You can even include CSA methodology in the mix.

Just as CSA methodology has been determined to be flawed (GAO report), so has the HOS rule been questioned when establishing driver/company compliance safety for all. The FMCSA study was four months late and lacked data.  Read more

Do we need an HOS rule? Absolutely.

If an ELD is going to increase safety by enforcing compliance and accountability, then the rule it is measured by must also ensure safety as priority….taking ALL variables into consideration and making ALL accountable.

Creating a one size fits all HOS rule that is FAIR and EFFECTIVE is challenging to say the least.

Question:  Why are drivers opposed to the ELD mandate and who are those supporting it, and why?

This Saturday at MATS will be a seminar by James Lamb, as part of an outreach coalition, Small Business in Transportation Coalition (SBTC) will introduce the idea of small business working together, increasing accountability, and ultimately increasing driver wages:

SAT. MAR. 29 11AM


© 2014, Allen Smith. All rights reserved.

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By: Allen Smith

Allen Smith is a 37 year veteran who started at an early age in a household goods family moving business. He began driving straight trucks in 1977 and moved to the big rigs in 1982. His experience within the industry includes; owner operator, company driver, operations manager, and owner of a long distance HHG moving business, taking many of the long haul moves himself when needed. Allen Smith, a truck driver advocate who is driven by the desire to help others succeed within an industry where injustice, unrewarded sacrifice, and lack of respect and recognition exists. Allen and his wife Donna are hosts of Truth About Trucking ”Live” on Blog Talk Radio. Other websites include AskTheTrucker, TruckingSocialMedia, NorthAmericanTruckingALerts, TruthAboutTrucking, and many Social Media websites. In 2011 Allen and Donna hosted the first Truck Driver Social Media Convention, designed to create unity and solutions for the trucking industry. This is now being extended through the North American Trucking Alerts network as those within the industry join forces for the betterment of the industry. Allen strongly supports other industry advocates who are also stepping up to the plate to help those who share honesty, guidance and direction. He believes that all those involved in trucking need to be accountable for their part within the industry, including drivers, carriers, brokers, shippers, receivers, etc… The list of supporters and likeminded people grow daily, networking together and sharing thoughts and ideas for the betterment of trucking. He has coined the popular phrase "Raising the standards of the trucking industry"

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4 Responses to ELD Mandate-The controversy and affects of driver accountability. - Post a Comment

  1. pj drew

    I have been in and out of this industry for coming up on my 31st anniversary. first 3 years in state only (under age 21).
    of driving things way bigger than myself, for little wages to big wages, school bus, tractor-trailer(s), charter buses (good money) limousines (good money-but barf clean up detail sometimes) railroad transportation, straight truck- expediter and now as a Sprinter Category Expediter. I have no more HOS rules, no logs, and mile pay vs expenses, Im making MORE money! yes, I have a QC, yes, it costs ME- $30 a week. COMPANIES ONLY PAY FOR COMPANY DRIVERS IN COMPANY TRUCKS us o/o are not only SADDLED with them, but made to pay for our own “slavery chains”. I like mine now, why? get printed details of load: no mis-numbered streets no more what company? who? where? I know precisely where Im going and what Im going to do for about $7 a day. I have to drive about 85 miles to pay for it though! so on a day off, its an expense….if I had choice of pay per message instead? hmmmm maybe, but what about days when you do more than one short load? and remember Im not ELOGGED in my sprinter….
    it does not have GPS mapping, but it reports my location once per hour, and if there’s a message sent or received or if I am pinged by customer or dispatch…..great if some yahoo ever stole the van……(unless they cut the wire…..)
    as for HOS- I object to being forced into “cookie cutter hours”. and what about being in a TEAM situation? Absolutely the SAFEST way is to have 12 hours a day for driver 1, 12 hours a day for driver 2. and switch outs at “safe places” that would occur within a pretty darned close time frame. after 6 days of driving BOTH of you should have 24 hours off, then back to work, that would be ideal body clocks would be in sync, sleep patterns established. I sleep best in the early morning hours, 5 am Im out like a lite, Im a night owl, always have been my former team mate is a early to bed, early to rise, so 5 am up and on duty, to 5 pm worked great, you REALLY dont want to see me city drive at 9 am…..but come evening I can deal (99% of the time) with other drivers…..on their commutes out and home… if they hooked up a machine that monitored temp, b/p, respiration, heart rate to us while ON DUTY AND OFF, and were able to see what our patterns did? I think that would prove that regularity to sleep/wake patterns is best for EVERYONE….ok, theres my $0.02 worth HAPPY MOTORING

    • Bonnie MacPherson

      PJ, I disagree with your statement about team drivers working 12 hour stints. I have teamed 3 times. My second co-driver and I worked split shifts, 6-12, 6-12. My third co-driver and I worked 12 hours shifts, (because of the new HOS rules against split-breaking). Split-breaking was much easier; we both got all the sleep we needed, we could plan showers, meals, stretch breaks easier with a little time off each of our shifts do we could still make maximum miles.

  2. pj drew

    by the way, if you add the 12 hours and the 24hours in my “suggested day off” you get 34 hours off…..

  3. Bnnie MacPherson

    Another aspect that I have not read about that will be/is affected by an ELD, is health. I do not have an ELD, but am currently running a truck governed at 65mph. I run reefer, so loads are tight. There is absolutely no time for me to get out of the truck and walk, stretch, do simple exercises. I have gained 10 lbs. in the last year, and now suffer some, (currently minor), ailments because of this. An ELD also causes this problem. A friend who does run with an ELD told me just yesterday that she can not stop the truck for a break when she needs one. She is forced to run 7 hours straight, take the 30 min. DOT break and back in the seat to finish her time.
    Truckers are considered the least healthy citizens in the country; well, restrictive HOS, governed trucks and ELD’s are going to add to the problem. Also, what about the stress caused by trying to make on-time pick-up or delivery when every second of the day is counted?
    This trucker is tired of being considered and treated like a Convicted Detainee Loose!

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