On December 18, a federal mandate requiring commercial trucks to be equipped with electronic logging devices (ELDs) is supposed to be implemented. The ELDs are supposed to monitor the time drivers are on the road. This is to make sure they don’t exceed the maximum amount of hours they are allowed to drive.
These will replace paper logs that have been in place since the 1930s, which were often falsified, many times leading to fatal crashes that were cause by fatigue. However, many truck drivers are not happy with the new mandate and are protesting against it. They say the ELDs aren’t flexible in dealing with the facts of driving a truck everyday.
The federal hours-of-service rule says that truckers can drive 11 hours a day, within a 14 hour period, with 10 hours of rest to follow. Todd Spencer, the executive vice president of the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association says, “Once your workday starts, then 14 hours later, it has to end,” Spencer says. “It doesn’t take into account delays that you may encounter at a shipper or receiver, or as a result of construction or congestion, or maybe a crash on the road.” These delays are an issue for truckers because the majority of the, are paid per mile, NOT hourly.
Trucking Safety Regulations are Being Halted
While the ELD mandate has not been halted yet, it still could be. The Trump Administration has already stopped several Obama-era trucking safety regulations. For example, Under the Obama administration, Federal Motor Carroer Safety Administration regulators were working on a mandate to have drivers tested for sleep apnea; Trump’s administration quickly killed the rule. Other trucking safety regulations that have been stopped include:
- Updating the motor carrier safety rating system
- Requiring speed-limiting devices on trucks
- Requiring underride guards on trailers, that can stop a car in a collision before the passenger side could get stuck underneath.
- Automatic emergency breaking systems
With all these reversals, safety advocates are up in arms. The reason for these regulations is to prevent unnecessary crashes. With the ELD regulation specifically, the point is to prevent fatigue related crashes. Robert Sumwalt, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board said, “We see these issues in crash after crash, and we’re tired, yes we are tired, of seeing commercial drivers being tired.”
John Lannen, the executive director f the Truck Safety Coalition said that he found the current climate troubling, and that the new administration is undermining safety when truck crashes and fatalities are rising. “We’re over 4,000 deaths a year now in truck crashes. It’s been going up steadily and we need to do something now.”
What are your thoughts? Are truckers regulated too much or not enough? Let us know your thoughts.