All That's Trucking

How ELDs Could Help Fix Problems with Truck Driver Hours of Service Rules

Blog Commentary by Deborah Lockridge, Editor in Chief

April 14, 2017

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The end of paper logbooks may be just what the industry needs to make its case about unrealistic hours of service regulations. Photo: Jim Park.
The end of paper logbooks may be just what the industry needs to make its case about unrealistic hours of service regulations. Photo: Jim Park.

In my March editorial, I wrote about how the electronic logging device mandate could actually be the path to revising some of the problematic aspects of federal truck driver hours of service regulations.

David Heller, vice president of government affairs for the Truckload Carriers Association, contends that by digging in their heels and resisting the ELD mandate, fleets are only hurting their cause for revising the HOS regs to something that better reflects the day-to-day realities of trucking.

“They need to start embracing technology,” he told me. “If we want to fix hours of service — which believe me, we’re trying to do — arguing against ELDs is not the way to do it.

“As an industry, I can’t emphasize this enough, we can’t advocate non-compliance. Nobody can advocate for a change in the rules by saying we’re not going to follow the rules. The best way is to embrace the benefits of the technology and argue the [HOS] changes at a later time. We can emphasize problems with truck parking, with detention time, and ELDs will go a long way toward doing that, because we will have sound data and sound science behind us.”

After a reader wrote to ask me what he could do to help, I asked Heller for some more details.

He pointed out that the problems with the 34-hour restart, which the industry fought and managed to get rescinded because a study could not prove they improved safety, were just the tip of the iceberg.

“The issues that coincide with the current rule are long and problematic to say the least,” Heller said. “The 30-minute break has proven that this provision is not for everyone, with the list of exemptions that seem to grow more and more the longer you look at it. The reader is correct, the inability to stop the 14-hour clock when you are tired is not good for anyone. So yes, the problems continue with our hours of service rules, and they will not be fixed overnight, as everyone know that when it comes to government there is no quick fix. These changes take years.”

But there is some movement in that direction, he said.

Virginia Tech has plans in the works to begin studying the effects of a split sleeper berth scenario. It will collect roughly a year's worth of data. “It is worth noting that the [Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration] has plans to study this issue in an effort to truly discover the issue and the ramifications of it.”

And again, he said, ELDs may help provide the data the industry needs to make its case. The government loves to use data in formulating its regulations, and with the mandate for all federally regulated trucking operations to use ELDs come December, “We are eight months from a virtual data explosion the likes in which this industry has not truly seen,” Heller said.

“Arguments against detention time, truck parking problems and even Line 5 ‘personal conveyance’ will no longer be anecdotal – there will be sound data which can support, or refute, arguments for or against aforementioned issues, which will all be done by devices designed with specifications put forth by the FMCSA.”

“So in essence, the good news is that the agency will begin looking at all of these issues, if only because our industry is quite persistent in our arguments. The bad news is that none of this happens in a timely manner, which is unfortunate. These changes do take time, and they take data.”

And ELDs will help provide that data.

Comments

  1. 1. Wade Haught [ April 17, 2017 @ 04:09AM ]

    The writer makes a good argument. The underlying premise is what bothers me. That premise is that a small group of people in Washington DC think they can set the rules for everyone in an industry they know almost nothing about. A lot of good owner-operators and small trucking companies will go out of business due to these flawed rules while they "figure it out". Centralized control is a throwback to the flawed Soviet Union economic system that led to their collapse. This is America - have we learned nothing from history?

  2. 2. J David Stanley [ April 17, 2017 @ 08:10AM ]

    All good points Unfortunately I don't have a barrel of cash in the basement to pull from while the Feds figure out what to do
    The biggest problem is the lack of compassion that the Feds have towards the trucking community. It's turned into an adversarial relationship with the big players calling the shots. Just because I disagree with the trucking alliance doesn't make me a bad operator. The Feds have all the power here and they could be a tremendous help in terms of compliance but they ignore the problems the industry puts forward and disregards the opinions of the people in the field

  3. 3. Terry Patterson [ April 18, 2017 @ 12:34AM ]

    UNTIL THE DAY , SOMEBODY EXPLAINS TO THE SHIPPING/RECEIVING
    LOCATIONS, THAT A TRUCK IS ( NOT MAYBE) BUT IS LOADED, IN 2 HOURS OR LESS, THEN AN AUTOMATIC FINE, IS PLACED ON THEIR BANK ACCOUNT. THAT DAY. IN OTHER WORDS CONNECT THE PROBLEM TOGETHER AND MAKE THEM PAY AS MUCH FINES MISCUES AS A SMALL CARRIER, HAS TO PAY. PLACE SOME DIRECT
    REPROCUSSION BACK TO THE VERY PROBLEM OF WHY ALL THIS HAS COME ABOUT. SHIPPER, RECEIVERS, AND MY GRACIOUS ABSOLUTELY CLUELESS YOUNGER GENERATION FREIGHT PRESENTERS, THAT HARDLY CAN STATE WHAT THE LOAD IS, MUCH LESS KNOW HOW IT WORKS. THEN YOU WILL SEE A DRASTIC, CHANGE IN THE BUSINESS OF SMALL TRUCKING. HEY , WAL MART
    YOU CAN NOT PICK UP YOUR STUFF AT 1600 AND 1900, AND DRIVE
    600 MILES FOR A 0800 APPOINTMENT THE NEXT DAY, AFTER YOU DELIVERED THE PREVIOUS, MORNING , STOP , STOP, ANNOUNCING THE PROCESS OF PICKING UP A LOAD, AND IT IS STILL IN PRODUCTION , BIGGEST PROBLEM HERE IS VERY LITTLE EXACT COMMUNICATION. WITH THE SUPPLIER. A CUSTOMER SITTING IN AN OFFICE CHAIR SOME 3 STATES AWAY IS NOT THE PERSON TO BE ASKING !!!!!!!!!! OH STOP MAKING PRODUCE APPOINTMENTS, UNTIL THIS FREIGHT IS ON THE TRUCK.

  4. 4. Winfield [ April 19, 2017 @ 11:00AM ]

    These ELD's mandate does make me sick. Any time we have to have what seems like an ankle monitor forced on people that have done nothing wrong is pretty awful to think about. Total intrusion by big brother for no reason. I guess it just seems like a punishment that should be used for constant rule violators. BUT I do see the silver lining in that it creates a technology platform that new companies can really build on. Most of our industry is literally driven by owner operators and small fleets. ELD with gps and communication from an app on smart phone puts everyone that wants to be on the map. Again literally. Once the ELDs are in the trucks a group of say 150 or even 1500 owner ops could band together to bid against the huge trucking companies. The technology will take away any advantage that a large company might have. I can't really stand the govt in any part of my life. but the technology that will come out of this in the next year after will be pretty amazing. At Trulos.com we are working with some of the ELD makers on integrating the shippers that post directly with the trucks. Say a truck is going to Dallas and would like a Van load to CA. A shipper could see that and reach out directly to the driver to negotiate the load. No more searching posts or taking phone calls. Just linking up 2 people that want to do business.

  5. 5. Michael Hrisca [ April 29, 2017 @ 10:10PM ]

    Sneaky reasoning. Still ELD mandate is awful. It makes me so sick that I'm out of trucking. It's not worth it. I know how to be safe out there and has been for my entire life in trucking

  6. 6. Mike [ May 30, 2017 @ 01:10PM ]

    Sound data? This is not a one size fits all industry! Let me stop my clock and leave me alone. If I want to stop for three or four hours and take a nap, LET ME! But don't punish me for doing a prudent thing in regards to safety or my biological clock. If the freight gets there safely, that is all that matters in my book. That is MY JOB! Do not hinder me in something I have been doing SAFELY for near THIRTY YEARS. Enough said.

  7. 7. Marvin [ June 27, 2017 @ 11:57AM ]

    The sad underlying theme to this whole charade is the fact that the large carriers are the ones pushing the government to do this. And of course government is more than happy doing anything for the right amount of money.

    Unfortunately the entire industry isn't involved with this "new technology". Shippers and receivers don't have any accountability written into this new law and therefore won't give much of a damn about it. Some shippers and receivers already charge a late fee now for being late for a shipment or delivery so it will be interesting to see how much further that goes when trucks are waiting along the trip to have hours available to complete the trip.

    Small fleets and O/O's will soon find out that what once took 5 days will now take 6&1/2 to 7 days. Rescheduling will become a nightmare because when the driver realizes that he won't be able to complete the trip today the schedules for tomorrow are already handed out. So adding yet another day to the trip will most likely become commonplace.

    But of course the enforcement officers can't be left out either. Once law enforcement departments get totally on board, finding a discrepancy won't be hard therefore adding dollars their department heads need for budget.

    As always this government "one size fits all" will find a way to turn the trucking industry on it's very head. But more money and time will surely find the solution to the problem that was created by the heavy hand of government in the first place.

 

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Author Bio

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Deborah Lockridge

Editor-in-Chief

All That's Trucking blog is just that – the editor's take on anything and everything related to trucking, with the help of guest posts from other HDT editors. Author Deborah Lockridge's career as an award-winning trucking journalist started in 1990.

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