I've been reading the public commentary for the recently proposed ELD rules and noticed a trend. There are lots of comments about personal freedom, privacy, and getting out of the trucking industry. Some drivers even comment in support of electronic logging. But one thing that comes up over and over is that the 14-hour shift rule is too restrictive and causes more harm than good.
It seems like a valid argument and one that we talk about often around the office. There are lots of honest, hard-working professional drivers out there who have the judgment and experience to balance tight delivery timelines with the breaks they need to drive safely. These drivers should be given more freedom to choose when to drive and when to rest.
Unfortunately, the current hours of service rules don't guarantee safe driving. Off-duty time doesn't guarantee a good sleep. If the current rules were to be even more rigidly enforced, it would be a constant cause of stress and inefficiency.
"When I'm driving and I get tired, I can't stop because my 14-hour clock is running out and I know I'll run out of hours. It used to be you could take a break and still finish your drive after, but now I can't, so I have to drive tired."
-Aaron Minde, Owner/Operator
Driver Empowerment and Accountability
I read a recent article on CCJ where executive editor Jack Roberts observed: “the issue of flexibility has to be addressed in a meaningful and fair way. If a driver is so many miles or minutes away from delivering a load or getting home, then there needs to be a common sense allowance—some ‘padding,’ if you will—to allow them to do so.” I think this kind of reasonable approach is long overdue. Why is the FMCSA punishing good drivers by creating such restrictive rules?
The drivers I've met are like any other bunch of people. Some are good and some are bad. All people should be given the freedom and responsibility to do their job well. Why should drivers be treated any differently?
At BigRoad we have first-hand experience with the value technology can bring to trucking. Our fleet and driver apps have helped many people run a safer and more efficient fleet. But ultimately, the technology is only a tool. It's the people using the tool that really make the industry work.
ELD can be another great tool, but only if it truly saves time and improves the lives of the people using it. More flexibility in hours of service rules might be a way to make ELD an instrument of freedom instead of a tool of oppression.
The comment period for the new ELD rule has been extended by 30 days, so you have until the end of June to learn what you can and make your voice heard. You can even submit comments online at the regulations.gov site.