Nuisance, thy name is ELDMonths after ELDs a must, what some drivers are still seeing and saying
With today marking four months since full enforcement of the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate, a number of truck drivers still say there are problems with ELDs in use and the federal Hours of Service (HOS) rules that are their foundation.
This has never been much of a honeymoon. After Fleetowner’s recent articles noted that large percentages of drivers and fleets don’t believe ELDs are good for the transportation industry or are making trucks safer, we got another big dose or three of feedback.
Despite the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) adjustment of more leeway in what can be counted as personal conveyance—a driving status that can allow a truck driver to operate a commercial motor vehicle outside of the HOS on-duty drive time constraints—scores of drivers say more must be done.
FMCSA helped with one big problem many truck drivers complained of: running out of available drive time while delivering or picking up a load and then being told to leave the premises. The agency said a driver in that situation can operate the truck to the nearest safe parking space to take the necessary off-duty time and rest.
Delays, driver pay, ELDs at odds
After hearing from a number of drivers, a significant point emerges. As the system has evolved, notably with paper logs as the standard over many years, most drivers are paid by the mile. Some fleets have changed that to hourly pay, but it’s a minority. So if drivers aren’t moving, for the most part, they aren’t earning money.
That seems to be forcing drivers to butt heads frequently with the HOS time limits in today’s reality of delays that truck drivers face. And it boils down primarily to several situations, including getting stuck in traffic and resoundingly, being held up at shippers and receivers “for hours” with a load.
Sometimes an observer sees it best. One truck driver’s wife said she goes out with her husband maybe one week each month and watches as he faces problems finding parking or getting stuck waiting to load or unload.
“Why is it fair to have ELDs count off your driving time when you’re sitting at a shipper or receiver? The truck driver is not driving, so why should it be counted against driving time?” she wrote. “Driving hours should just mean that—the time you’re driving.”
“It’s also unfair to require drivers to stop at the nearest safe place to park when if they drove half an hour more they could be home,” she added. “Try pushing shipping and receiving places to load in a timely manner instead of leaving truckers sitting for hours.”
A veteran female driver summed up many comments we received well. “There are so many variables we have to deal with that have been made much worse” with ELDs and strictly enforced HOS rules, she contended.
“We spend half our time not moving on the road working for free—that has not changed. We sit at loading and unloading docks for free. That has not changed. The larger companies may be doing better, but the small business owner is still stuck working for free,” the driver emphasized.
“And if you try for detention pay [from the shipper or receiver], they refuse and find someone else. That is what we have been facing for years and continues,” she said. “Parking has been a major problem for years; time lost at shippers and receivers has been a problem for years. Fixing those things will go a long way in making things safer.
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