Truckers wary of new mandate requiring electronic logs

In less than two months, a federal rule will require truck drivers to move from paper log books to electronic logging devices.

While some commercial trucks are already equipped with ELDs, several truckers have reached out to THV11 with concerns over this new mandate.

11 listens to the impact they fear it will have once it takes effect.

“I’ve always dreamed of driving a truck since i was a little kid,” said Wayne Clark, owner of Clark Farms.

Since 1983, Wayne Clark has been living out that dream on the road, traveling the country, helping people get the things they need.

But the independent owner operator feels a new federal rule could force him out of the industry.
“If they actually go through with this law that’s when i hang up the keys. That’s it, I will never drive with an electronic log,” Clark said.

Beginning Dec. 18, a mandate will require most commercial trucks to be equipped with electronic logging devices, replacing the decades-old paper log books. The devices range from $165 to $832.

Clark has spent thousands of dollars building his truck and said the added costs of the device, plus monthly fees, will likely push out small business owners like himself.

“Best case scenario, there will be a huge driver shortage. Worst case scenario, there will be a severe logistics problem,” Clark said.

A recent report revealed a national trucker shortage. Here in Arkansas there are roughly one thousand open driver positions. Some companies have qalready implemented the electronic logging devices. Brent Pouslen drives around with one daily.

“Since I’m a lease operator the company owns my unit and I’m paying a little over a thousand a year so it costs me money,” Pouslen said.

While it does relieve him of lots of paperwork, Pouslen says he finds it intrusive.

“It knows when I’m moving, how fast I’m moving, exactly where my location is. When I shut down, in a lot of ways it tells me when I have to sleep even if I’m not tired,” Pouslen said.

The electronic logging device has a GPS position sensor and connects to the vehicle’s engine to record the amount of time spent driving. But Poulsen thinks it’s often times inaccurate.

“If you move it will cut your 30 min rest period out, so I’ll have to sit for another 30 minutes even though I moved 15 feet,” Pouslen said.

Truckers say the 14-hour service rule combined with this new mandate will be dangerous to the economy and safety of drivers. However, according to the federal motor carrier safety administration, the ELD mandate is estimated to save 26 lives and prevent 562 injuries each year from crashes involving large motor vehicles.

“Driver fatigue comes from drivers exceeding the allowable hours of service,” said Shannon Newton, president of the Arkansas Trucking Association. “And so this eld will document that and  how long their working and when they should be taking rests.”

Newton said they’ve advocated for this mandate for years. She said companies equipped with the ELD are seeing the benefits.

According to the Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the reduction in the paperwork alone is expected to generate an annual net benefit of more than $1 billion.

“This compliance tool is going to hold them to a higher standard they’re not going to be able to maneuver or make it work or fudge the books when it’s being  electronically monitored,” Newton said.

Rep. Brian Babin of Texas has submitted a bill, HR 3282, that would delay the mandate. The Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) hopes truckers across the country will support it.

OOIDA member Jonathan Osburn said more work needs to be done before this technology is implemented in commercial trucks across the country.

“We’re supporting the amendment to postpone the eld ruling until we get training for the officers, until we get the  infrastructure setup,” Osburn said.

HR 3282 would delay the ELD mandate for an additional two years.

The Arkansas Trucking Association said that many companies and individuals have already invested in the technology and that a delay would only punish those who are already prepared.

This article was original published by KTHV-TV.