Electronic Logging Device Mandate – Did it make Transportation Safer?
The government was excited to get electronic logging devices in trucks over the past couple of years with the actual electronic logging device mandate deadline coming in December of 2017. But, the question still lingers, do electronic logs actually make transportation safer?
Currently, there are a number of studies out there trying to determine if the electronic logging device mandate actually made the transportation industry safer or did is it actually increasing the frequency of accidents. There are many conspiracy theorist that would argue that the government will actually cover up any statistics that do not meet with their narrative that electronic logs make the industry safer.
At the moment, we are not going to argue about the statistics, which we believe will actually show that the electronic log mandate is causing accidents. The reason we are not going to pursue them at this point is because it could be argued that not enough time has passed to make a determination. The truth is, we think that if you look at some of the bigger fleets that have been using electronic logs for a while you will actually see there is an increase in accidents.
The problem is the government will argue that it is not a result of electronic logs but a result of increased traffic, increased trucks on the road, increased road construction, etc…
You are probably asking, “what, can’t we trust the Government to tell the truth?”…. Sorry, I had to stop writing for a few minutes because I was laughing so far.
Let me start with, the problem is not really with the electronic logs, the problems is actually with the driver log requirements.
As you ponder that for a few minutes, I remind you to remember that the majority of Washington bureaucrats that make the rules concerning driver logs and electronic logs systems have NEVER actually been in a truck. They have NO clue what it is like to drive a truck and assume it must be like their jobs. They assume that it is best to sleep all night and go to work from 9 to 5. However, every truck driver knows the best time to drive through major cities is at night. Why? Because there is less traffic. Less traffic means less accidents.
Amazing that the Washington bureaucrats can’t figure that out! Not really, what have they ever done correctly?
So, let’s talk about real problem with electronic log books. First of all, for an electronic log book to be approved by our government they must do something called a ‘self certification’. Basically, the company making the electronic logging device looks at a set of standards and says, “Yes, we are all good.”
As you can imagine this have a bunch of electronic log book systems out there that only half work. But, they said they were all good so the government is happy. Whatever!
But, once you get past the very varied performance of the electronic log systems and assume you have gotten one that actually sort of kind of works, sometimes, then we can move on to the real problem. The logging regulations.
Right now, a driver can be on duty for 11 hours a day. This is fine and I think it is generally regarded by the transportation industry that 11 hours of driving a day is fine. Keep in mind, if you are a non-truck driver or Government official reading this, that just because you cannot (or don’t want to) drive 11 hours a day is not the point. The point is that truck drivers are professional truck drivers. Driving is what they do. Driving is what they have practiced. This is what they do every day and every week. The current 11 hour driving per day rule with proper breaks is reasonable to a professional truck driver.
Do not judge the 11 hour rule if you are not a professional truck driver. You are not qualified to have a valid opinion. It would be the same as you saying, “wow, I can’t play professional football because I can’t do what they do therefore we should change the rules of football.” Listen, if you were a professional football player you could do what they do. If you were a professional truck driver you could do what they do.
Assuming we agree that the 11 hour driving rule is NOT the problem when it comes to the electronic logging device mandate, then what is the problem? Simple, the main problem as we see it is the 14 hour rule.
The 14 hour rule states that once a professional truck driver goes on duty they can only be on duty for a maximum of 14 hours. This might seem reasonable at first glance but the problem is that the 14 hour clock cannot be stopped or broken into segments during the 24 hour work day.
What this means in real life is that if a professional truck driver drives an hour from a truck stop where they have been off duty for 10 hours to a shipper to load their 14 hour clock has started. If they get to the shipper and get loaded fast no problem. Unfortunately, it may take 4 hours or more to get loaded. During that 4 hours the driver can usually do whatever they like. Perhaps they take a nap, perhaps watch TV.
Let’s say it took 4 hours. The drive drove on hour to get there which means they still have 10 hours left they can drive, however they have been on duty for 5 hours of their maximum of 14 hours already. So while they technically have 10 hours they can drive that is superseded by the fact they only have 9 hours left they can work.
Now, the driver must make up as much time as they can. This means they will not be stopping if they get a little sleepy. This means they might drive a little faster than normal. This means they might be more stressed and aggressive behind the wheel. This may even mean they try to use the bathroom while driving. This is not because professional truck drivers are bad people, it is because at the end of the day they are human.
But, what if while they were at the shipper waiting to load they could have paused the 14 hour rule? If they had, not only would they still have 10 hours of driving time left but they could afford to stop and rest if they got a little tired. They could stop and use the rest room or just walk around. They would not be in such a hurry while fighting their way through traffic.
We believe the problem is the 14 hour rule.
If the Government and the Transportation industry want the electronic logging device mandate to work and actually make transportation safer they we MUST take a look at the 14 hour rule. We have not always had a 14 hour rule, only driving and sleeper berth rules. Did the 14 hour rule really make transportation safer or was this the brainchild of some Washington Bureaucrat who does not have a clue what it means to be a professional truck driver.
Even if we want to keep the 14 hour rule in theory, at least give professional truck drivers the ability to split (pause) it when they are just sitting around. If you can take a nap you are not on duty.
Let’s get log rules that make sense so the electronic logging requirement will do what it was supposed to do. Make things safer for all of us. We ALL have families on the highways.
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