The anti-truck "safety" group Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways is reportedly critical of the automated paperless log system that Werner Enterprises is testing in a federal program — allegations that Werner calls "absurd."
According to published reports, CRASH has raised concerns in letters to federal officials that the system does not properly record slow speeds or short travel distances.
Officials at CRASH did not return calls. However, in a letter to federal officials posted on its web site (http://www.trucksafety.org) that appears to refer to Werner, CRASH alleges the Office of Motor Carriers and Highway Safety "has permitted a major motor carrier participating in a pilot program to violate commercial driver hours of service limits without public review of the safety consequences and without adhering to any of the statutory requirements of TEA-21 for conducting pilot programs."
According to published reports, CRASH's complaint is that Werner's paperless logs automatically record truck idle time of more than two hours as sleeper berth time. In addition, speeds less than 20 mph are not considered valid and are calculated instead by dividing the distance traveled by the average miles per hour. CRASH says this means a driver could sit in heavy traffic when his logs say he's sleeping, and alleges this is a violation of hours-of-service regulations.
Werner CEO Clarence Werner said in a prepared statement that while it is true that if the truck idles or does not move for more than two hours the program records it as sleeper berth time, "these are default assumptions only. The drivers have been instructed and trained in how to make entries that will correct these assumptions for the true facts."
"Admittedly, there is no camera in the truck to tell us when a driver is actually in the sleeper berth," Werner says. "For that information, we must rely, as do the paper logs, on the information provided by the drivers. … We have over 6,500 trucks on the road each day. If a few of those trucks are caught in a traffic jam where they are forced to spend hours going only a short distance, and that driver fails to accurately record the true facts as he or she is instructed to do, that driver's hours may be recorded inaccurately for that time period. To suggest that somehow that problem would not have arisen under a paper log system is … absurd."
Werner also questioned CRASH's motives: "CRASH has for many years shown itself to be absolutely biased and critical of every aspect of the trucking industry. … It is obvious that CRASH is pursuing its separate agenda of attempting to discredit the Department of Transportation and is willing to sacrifice a program undertaken in the name of highway safety to accomplish its agenda. … If CRASH was actually interested in the issue of highway safety as a paramount objective, it would not only have taken the time to gather the facts and understand the system, but would be supportive of the paperless logs system."
For more information on Werner Enterprises, which has been named by Forbes as one of America's best technology users, visit http://www.werner.com.