Why I Choose Not To Use ElD's
A letter written to the owner of a trucking company:
You asked me why I won't try using an e-log, and the reasons I gave you were generic. The same ones that every driver gives and for every one I have you have an immediate answer to counter it, which leaves us in a stalemate. Due to the fact that I have been approached in a heated situation I haven't been exactly forthcoming as to why I refuse to involve myself in the use of e-logs. Maybe this will help you to understand why I feel the way I do about them.
In 1997 I decided to lease my truck on with Schneider National Carriers, and as a requirement I had to allow them to install a QualComm system in my truck, something I never used prior to then. I was a hard runner and didn't abide by the law, not that I was unsafe as a driver, I wasn't prone to having accidents, I just really enjoyed running hard. One of my first experiences was a 3 day run over the weekend to Salt Lake City, Utah. The following Monday morning I called dispatch and she was upset with me about the fact that I didn't take a full 8 hour break in the 3 days that I ran, and informed me that wouldn't be tolerated. Feeling committed to the job I didn't think that it was unreasonable to try it, and I adjusted to a new way of running just fine and seemed to make an acceptable amount of money as a result. It wasn't great, but it was consistent.
In 1999 the FMCSA was talking about changing the Hours Of Service rules to what it is now except back then we were required to take an 8 hour break, so it was going to be a straight 16 hours to run with an 8 hour break. As a result Schneider decided to implement that program with something that they called a "Motion 16." They used the QualComm device to monitor the drivers actions, and the clock started when the driver moved their truck.
My first negative experience, I was making a delivery and was parked in the staging area for 4 hours, when the reciever asked me to back into a dock so that they could unload it, I moved less than an 1/8 of a mile to dock the trailer, 2 hours later when they were finished I moved back to the staging area and finished my 8 hour break before proceeding to the next pick up point. About 8 am I recieved a message to call safety and speak with a certain person. When I called I was informed that I didn't take a full 8 hour break because I drove 4 miles into town and spent 2 hours there beore driving back to the recievers. I explained to her that I didn't do as she suggested and I explained what really happened. She responded that "the computer doesn't lie, and if it says that you drove into town then that's what you did." Then she proceeded to speak to me in a berating manner and informed me that I needed to take my job seriously and take complete 8 hour breaks before I move my truck. Later someone explained to me that the QualComm works on a grid and I must have crossed the grid line when I moved the truck.
Another experience, I drove 1 hour to delivery and spent 5 hours at the point, I drove 2 hours to reload and spent another 5 hours at that point, I drove 2 more hours and stopped to fuel my truck in Roanoke, Va., and the QualComm showed me a message that I have 1 hour to be stopped safe and legal for my 8 hour break. My plan was to drive through West Virginia and stop in Jackson,Oh. for a break, and then I could continue to Detroit, Mi. from there in the morning. I have not been following the motion 16 policy prior to then and thought that it's not fair to criticize the policy if I had not tried it. Amazingly enough there was a parking place in the truck stop so I parked my truck for 8 hours there. I sat there the better part of 8 hours twiddling my thumbs wide awake, I was not tired to get any sleep. When the break was over I continued to travel through West Virginia during the night and was fine for a few hours, then I grew increasingly sleepy while traversing mountainous climbs. About 3am I couldn't stay awake any longer and violated one of the biggest rules in trucking, I parked on the shoulder of an off ramp with my 4 way flashers on and slept until the sun came up before I could continue my trip. I thought that I nearly got myself killed before I could get pulled off the road, and that no one was going to have control over how I drive my truck and do my job ever again. Furthermore, I can't make a living on 5 hours worth of driving a day while being paid on a mileage rate. It wasn't much longer before I left Schneider National Carriers due to an impractical company policy. They called me back a couple of weeks later wanting to know if I had a change in mind about leaving them. I asked if they were still doing the Motion 16? and they replied "yes, we do. That's not going to change." My answer to them was "no, and I will not be changing my mind about my decision in the future."
In 2013 I worked for Regency Transportation as a local job, I ran the New England states only. They upgraded their fleet with new trucks that had the new QualComm systems in them. The experience I had with it was nothing less than pure harassment. These QualComm units tracked everything a driver did during their shift. The anti-rollover system on the trucks were sensitive and were prone to be activated under normal driving conditions. Drivers complained that they have had them go off while backing into a parking space and hit a pothole. I have been cut off by cars on the road and had to brake appropriately hard and the QualComm unit reports a critical event to the office and was link up to the insurance company as well. Every Time the anti-rollover was activated it too was reported to the office. The safety director was in the habit of making a phone call to the driver every time a critical event was reported, and the berating ensued, once again they would tell the me the computer never lies. My stress levels were climbing through the roof, to the point that when I was cut of by some cars that decided that they needed to exit at that very moment, I was braking hard to prevent hitting them, and out of worry that I was going to trigger a critical event on the QualComm I released the brakes and I could have hit them except I came to my senses about the stupidity of the situation. It's terrible when a driver is so harassed that the safety devices become counter productive.
In 2011 the Owner Operator Independent Driver's Association (OOIDA) won a court case against the FMCSA on the mandate of the use on Electronic On Board Recorders (EOBR's).
Judge Wood commented that the FMCSA was directed by Congress back in the late 1980s to “ensure that the devices are not used to harass vehicle operators."
“The Agency needs to consider what types of harassment already exist, how frequently and to what extent harassment happens, and how an electronic device capable of contemporaneous transmission of information to a motor carrier will guard against (or fail to guard against) harassment,”
FMCSA's report, Attitudes of Truck Drivers and Carriers on the use of ELD's and Driver Harassment, Page 69, section 5, conclusion
The charge to FMCSA that the agency consider the potential of driver harassment with respect to ELD's is the genesis of this research project. The research has shown that few truck drivers feel as if they are harassed, regardless of the method used to log their HOS. The incidence of harassment may be too rare to be detected in a research project such as this.
Generally, the research observations do not suggest the harassment is greater for drivers who use ELD's to log HOS than it is for drivers that use paper. There are statistic significant differences, but they are rare among the many comparisons made, and one could legitimately conclude that those statistically significant differences, are such a small proportion of all the comparisons made that they are rising to the level of "statistical significance" is due to chance or sampling error.
It is acknowledged that, when asked about other interactions which they might have experienced at their company, drivers who use ELDs indicated a greater likelihood that they were 1) asked why their truck had not moved, or 2)that their carrier had changed their logs.
The evidence in this survey research does not support concluding that harassment occurs due to being in a situation where HOS are logged using ELDs.
Judge Wood said that Congress requires that FMCSA must assure that harassment will not exist for drivers and the FMCSA has found that it is prevalent in the industry and all that they have done is make a memorandum with OSHA and are threatening fines up to $11,000.00 to any carrier for harassment. Yet there is nothing to prevent harassment and there still is the burden of proof. In other words the FMCSA has skirted the law and have taken a shortcut to fulfill their agenda, providing they mandate the use of ELD's when they have finalized their proposal.
This has been a trend with the FMCSA for years now, and there is no proof that anything that they have done has been effectual for safety. However, the statistics have shown since 2009 accident, and fatality rates have increased significantly, and the only thing that has changed is the new CSA laws. They are making rules that are putting drivers and the general public at risk. Ultimately safety is the drivers responsibility and a driver is being held responsible for safety, while yet the FMCSA is dictating how a driver must do the job, which proves for some drivers is counter productive to safety.
My life experience, and common sense dictate to me that there is no future for a driver in trucking once ELD's are implemented. The proposal of speed limiters in commercial motor vehicles will be just adding insult to injury.
I understand that you have found the use of on board computers with ELD's a benefit to the company that you have worked hard to build at your risk. I also understand that when I take out the truck I am responsible for 1 truck that you own, while yet you are responsible for 35 trucks and the drivers in them. I'm not angry with you for your decision to use these devices to protect your investment. However, it's my contention that there is no benefit to me as a driver to use these devices, due to the stress that they have caused me in the past, and the stress that they will cause me in the future. With the impractical FMCSA laws that put drivers in impossible situations I just don't see any hope in being a truck driver.
As a final thought, It is my greatest concern that the FMCSA is going to want to link every electronic device that is installed in trucks to monitor every critical event and violation that is committed from washington D.C., in which case they can assess penalties and fines, you may conveniently receive them in the mail or by computer automation. Remember computers never lie!
© Operation Black and Blue 2017