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Fuel for Thought

Now they are starting to get it, drivers are shifting their focus

By Greg Huggins
Posted Jan 29th 2018 4:38PM

Now they are starting to get it. For some time now some truck drivers have been going through the 5 stages of acceptance.

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

When electronic logging devices (ELDs) were initially discussed, drivers were in Denial that it would ever happen. Like most things associated with government entities, things usually happen slowly, as is the case for ELDs. It has been years since the concept was first considered to replace paper logs with electronic ones.

As the deadline approached, drivers became angry that these devices were to be forced upon them. Some holding rallies while other wrote their elected officials or even caused slow downs on the interstates to show their Anger over the upcoming mandate. Where were they during the comment period? .... back in denial.

Next came the Bargaining crowd. Many are still at this stage since the mandate has a delayed implementation date for drivers with pre- year 2000 equipment. They have bargained to wait it out with equipment that does not need to comply with the ELD mandate, at least until 2019, with hopes of a repeal of the mandate.

Depression at the next stage led many drivers to throw their hands up and consider other career paths. While a large number of truck drivers claimed to leave the industry if the mandate took effect, it doesn't appear that the mass departure took place.

Finally, Acceptance. For all of those drivers who did stay, but waited until the 11th hour to get onboard, they are now scrambling to learn a new device for logging their hours of service (HOS). The lackadaisical way many drivers used to fill out paper logs has just been replaced with a more rigid, less forgiving, electronic version. Many of us accepted the change early on, years ago in many cases, and the ELD mandate deadline passed like any other day. Those who adopted the the new logging devices early were poised to be ready to continue driving on December 19th, 2017 just as before, while the opposition to the mandate waited and scrambled to comply at the last minute.

It has been just over a month since the ELD mandate took effect, and only now are we starting to see the same crowds of drivers beginning to understand that the case against ELDs, for which they have been arguing, was the wrong argument.

In the months prior to implementation, there were many drivers with many arguments against ELDs. These include:

  • I can't make my route on elogs
  • lack of adequate parking
  • I do not want to be tracked
  • cost prohibitive, undue burden

To say that you cannot drive the same route with an ELD as you can on paper, is to say you are "bending the truth" on your paper log. Hours are hours regardless of pen and paper or electronic. There is very little wiggle room with an ELD.

Parking was, is and will be an issue regardless of how you log your HOS.

In today's electronic society, there is a very real chance you were already being tracked, however, an ELD tracks the vehicle, not the driver.

Of course new electronics will cost more than an outdated paper logbook, but in our litigious world, wouldn't a device that can virtually pinpoint your location be an asset should you be involved in an accident. No more "the log doesn't match the phone records" excuses. Also with all the new ELD models that have hit the market, costs have dropped and they are more affordable than before.

Now, just a few weeks later, these same drivers are starting to redirect their arguments against ELDs to their true complaint - HOS. If you have an issue with using an ELD, this is, and has been, the actual point of contention. For those who do not drive a CMV (Commercial Motor Vehicle) subject to FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) rules, regulations and mandates, drivers are now and have been required to have a record of duty status, a log book. Until recently, drivers and/or carriers could choose paper log books or electronic log devices. Paper logs are easier to manipulate and while elogs do remove the human factor somewhat, they are not without their own faults. On an ELD, 11 hours of driving is 11 hours of driving, on paper logs it could be 11ish or 15 hours, who's to say, it all relied on the honor system. Apparently, from the need to implement such a mandate, our industry either lost some of it's honor or flat out abused the system to a degree that compliance with the HOS needed to be addressed and a new system put in place, the ELD. While there are still some organizations and groups fighting for a full repeal of the mandate, others have turned to the real problem of HOS rules. On paper logs the 14 hour rule had far less meaning than on an electronic log device directly communicating with the vehicle's ECM to record all movements and the EXACT time and approximate location of each movement.

Will 2018 see a revision of the HOS? Probably not, things rarely move that fast in any branch of government. Will the issue be brought up? Most likely and maybe this time drivers will move past the first four stages and go right to acceptance where they can provide valuable input to the HOS proposals BEFORE they are enacted rather than wait until after some new HOS takes effect to then complain about them. Consider carefully what you ask for. Think about the implications of any new HOS rules. Remember the debacle of the 34 hour restart that had to include two periods of 1AM - 5AM?

Many new rules or regulations for the trucking industry usually include a listening sessions with the rule makers as well as comment periods to inject your views on the proposed new regulations. This is our industry, we need to be more proactive than reactive.

 

Be safe.

See you down the road,

Greg

 

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