With the start of a new federal rule requiring digital tracking of the number of driving hours truckers log only weeks away, drivers critical of the regulation are launching sporadic protests and hoping for a last-minute congressional reprieve.

But most in the industry believe the mandate — which will force truckers to comply with a federal hours-of-service rule limiting driving to no more than 11 hours a day — will go into effect as planned Dec. 18.

HR 3282, a House bill to delay the deadline for two years by Republican Rep. Brian Babin of Texas, has been parked in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure since the day it was introduced in July.

Truckers support the bill, but they know its passage is unlikely before the December deadline. That’s left truckers suggesting that their only hope of halting the regulation is a nationwide strike.

Gary Graham

Gary Graham

“I drove a truck in the 1970s and remember some of the strikes back then,” Gary Graham, a 45-year trucking veteran from Lamar, Mo., told Trucks.com. “I feel like there is going to be another shutdown [prior to the December deadline] and it may not be so peaceful.”

In early October, Graham shut down his trucking operation for a week, painting signs opposing the ELD mandate on the side of his trailer. Graham, a flatbed trucker, said that cost him about $2,000 in earnings.

However, the history of trucker protests and the very nature of getting independent drivers to agree on a plan of action makes that a longshot.

Work stoppages aren’t an effective means to protest the impending ELD mandate because independent truckers lack the economic resources to shut down for long periods of time, said Steve Viscelli, a University of Pennsylvania sociologist and author of the book “The Big Rig: Trucking and the Decline of the American Dream.”

Drivers also are unlikely to work together to create a massive labor action.

“They don’t have the ability to stick together — and really change the capacity of the industry by voluntarily withholding their services,” he told Trucks.com. “They also don’t have an effective means to coordinate it.”

Their self-reliant nature works against presenting a unified front.

“Independent truckers who can’t get out of their own mindset and work together are their worst enemies,” Scott Jordan, the owner of a small trucking company in Peculiar, Mo., told Trucks.com.

Independent truckers also lack any meaningful market power, Viscelli said.

But while protests won’t likely have an economic impact on the trucking industry, they could have a symbolic impact, he said. “That’s the only way it could go down well for them.”

Previous nationwide strike attempts, including one in February 1983, resulted in violence as truckers protested legislation to increase federal fuel taxes and user fees. Independent truckers argued that they would not be able to pass on resulting higher fuel costs to their customers.

Independent truckers waged an 11-day strike in February 1974 over higher fuel prices, resulting in violence that left two truckers dead. A settlement reached with the federal government included a 6 percent freight rate surcharge to allow truckers to recoup increased fuel expenses.

“We always support lawful protests, especially those that facilitate further discussions with lawmakers,” said Norita Taylor, spokeswoman for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, a trade group with more than 150,000 members.

OOIDA opposes the ELD mandate and has lost all of its legal challenges in court, fighting the federal mandate all the way to the Supreme Court, which refused to hear its case.

But others in the trucking industry, including the American Trucking Associations, support the regulation.

ATA is firm in its belief that there will be no delay in the Dec. 18 deadline to implement electronic logging devices,” Sean McNally, spokesman for the trade group, told Trucks.com. “This rule has been upheld by FMCSA, by Congress and by the courts, and we see no reason for it to be delayed.”

Stephen Burks, professor of economics and management at the University of Minnesota, questioned the efficacy a national shutdown would have and whether there are enough drivers “willing to stop work to make a significant difference over a long enough period to have a large impact.”

“I suspect [it’s] not enough to have the kind of impact the truckers, who are upset, would like,” Burks, who supports the ELD mandate, told Trucks.com.

Drivers in interviews with Trucks.com said they don’t want to be digitally tracked.

Bahtiyor Sultan

Bahtiyor Sultan

“I don’t want a computer telling me when to drive and when to sleep,” Bahtiyor Sultan, an owner-operator from Plainfield, Ill., told Trucks.com.

Drivers believe the devices will limit driving time and cut their earnings. They say battling the 14-hour clock every day will force them to drive when tired. They are concerned about overcrowding at rest areas and truck stops and the difficulty of finding safe truck parking as they shut down each day.

“I may see how it goes,” Sultan said. “If I am forced to stop because the 14-hour clock tells me to when I am miles from home, I will stop trucking.” Sultan said such a scenario will cut into the time he has to spend at home.

After shutting down his one-truck operation for a week in early October to protest the mandate, Robert Rueden of Abbotsford, Wis., said he is “holding out hope” that it will be delayed.

“I don’t believe in the government tracking my every move,” Rueden told Trucks.com.

He’s also considering a workaround. Trucks with engines built before 2000 are exempt from the regulation, so he might buy an older engine for his rig.

For frustrated truckers, their only hope looks to be a last-minute appeal to the White House.

“I am hoping President Trump steps in and does something to stop it,” Graham said.

But he may be disappointed.

Raymond Martinez, Trump’s nominee for administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, said in recent Senate testimony that he would not delay implementation of the ELD regulation.

Read Next: Truck Driver Crunch Could Send Wages Skyward

About The Author

Clarissa Hawes

Clarissa Hawes is a Trucks.com staff writer who covers trucking and freight. She is an award-winning journalist with over 10 years of experience covering the trucking industry. She can be found on Twitter: @cage_writer.

22 Responses

  1. dan boyce

    after 25 yrs-owner operator-i have parked my peterbilt-i’m done-have a nice day

    Reply
    • John holt

      Dam, I can’t much blame you but I’m hoping that trump signs the executive order that stops the stupidity and madness that we veteran drivers see coming , I’m about done with this business too it use to be fun and enjoyable but not anymore

      Reply
  2. Lisa Schmitt

    ATA does NOT represent the trucking industry. Their 15% is comprised of mega fleets that have horrible safety records, even though they have been on ELDs for over a decade. True trucking professionals ie. Owner-operators do not need a device to keep them safe. They spend 80% of their time away from their family out on the road. No one wants more safety than them. #eldorme

    Reply
  3. Phil

    The media still isn’t reporting the real issue, that this is a violation of our fourth amendment rights. Our trucks are used as private vehicles as well and last time I checked private vehicles cannot be monitored without a warrant.

    Reply
  4. Will

    I think real life wil prove it different that’s because freight won’t be be moved as fast as usual. ELD is not a solution to reduce the accidents.

    Reply
  5. Randy

    The eld is just the beginning.
    Hos is the real problem. Elds are an invasion of my privacy. The government does not have the right or need to track me. If big companies want to use them fine. Not for small buisness or owner operators. Elds will NOT make highways safer. It will force drivers to drive when tired and when traffic is at its worst. It does not take in weather , traffic or other delays we run into everyday. I am not a machine. I know when I’m tired, hungry or just need a break. Started driving in late 70’s. Millions of accident free miles and no damaged or loss product claims. No computer can do that !!

    Reply
  6. Safe Trucker

    We all know drivers that will have to transition from paper to electronic logs. Common question I hear is “how can i make this run on elog, its not a legal run, i made it work on paper”. Well, that is part of the issue that helped advance this regulation, the willingness to push past the limits of the law and/or common sense and hope nothing bad happens, google the Tracy Morgan accident.

    Reply
    • John holt

      Safe drivers your forgetting one thing,that Walmart driver drove ten hours in HIS OWN PERSONAL CAR TO NEW JERSEY FROM GA TO GET TO THE DC HE WAS RUNNING OUT OF,Walmart knew this and shouldn’t have let him climb into that truck 🤔

      Reply
  7. Bob toomey

    Maybe you should Google the Tracy Morgan accident. Mr Roper was completely legal on his elog. The fact that he came to work tired and was trying to maximize his hours as his employer expected were the likely cause of the accident. Had he been on paper, he would have likely done what the rest of us do when tired, pull over and nap. Nothing good comes out of the elog mandate except you should expect more of these types of accidents.

    Reply
  8. TomT

    Perhaps the solution here is to, rather than fight the ELDs that have been upheld by the circuit court, it may be better to focus on challenging the 14 hour day log book requirement which is where the real problem is. Let`s face it, if the trucker can break his day up and log sleeper time while they are unloading his truck or while he is waiting for as load or take breaks at the peak of traffic rush hours and extend his day, there would be no loss of income or revenue as the case may be and the ELD would be no problem. OOIDA did all it could to stop both, that is to say log book changes and ELDs but as the article mentioned in the beginning getting truckers to agree on anything is a difficult task. Part of the problem here is that the mega companies that the ATA represents has concentrated it`s hiring efforts on trainees (even with their own schools), or people not fully familiar with the challenges of the industry which now includes veterans who have never worked in the industry, and they have no idea what they are getting in to which is why there is no consensus but in some cases a 115 % turnover rate once they get to figure out the bottom line along with no idea what a good paycheck should look like compared to the challenges they face. It is the old Roman law of divide and conquer and it works well to eliminate the higher expectations of experienced drivers with regard to wages and rates. The mega companies have accomplished what could be called, human automation and ultimate production control with standardized transportation assembly lines even to the point of being able to remotely shut down a truck from the office. One final note the idea of a trucker strike, and yes I to remember the the strikes of the seventies over fuel very violent when both Teamsters and O/Os went on strike, problem here is that it could not be universal as union drivers are under contract which if they fail to honor would result in all kinds of legal ramifications.

    Reply
    • John holt

      TOM T,I agree with most of what your saying,there is no brotherhood in this business anymore nor respect from these idiots they’re putting in these trucks and I too remember the strike in 79 because I was in it.I firmly believe if you give the government a inch they will take a yard,but here’s something most drivers don’t know about the union.The union bosses came up with the log book idea in the first place because they didn’t want they’re drivers WORKING TOO HARD (give me a break) and the DOT TOOK IT AND RAN WITH IT

      Reply
      • TomT

        I agree John, unions today are basically worthless and have been since they got rid of the first Jimmy Hoffa. One big difference between then and now was that union or non-union truckers stood together except for the strike issue as they had different schedules to address there concerns. Let`s face it though, you could break down and it was not long before two or three guys stopped to help you out, I know because I have and have been helped. That solidarity is by corporate design now gone and it has been a race to the bottom ever since with the cheaper the better. It is not just gone from trucking, they managed to reduce the working standards and pay for many jobs in that era that used to be union which is what created the middle class. Airline pilots, stewardesses, telephone workers and many others that had their standard of living reduced thanks to de-regulation that Kennedy started and Carter signed into law which was the beginning of globalization. The log book actually protected company drivers from being abused which was common in the early days but was for everyone else basically a “comic book’ as it used to be called where O/Os carried two or even three of them. and some I knew who used to pop ‘black beauties’ and run twenty four or longer hours. There are other considerations of course, back then for instance, there was less traffic and the main problem for truckers were trucks that had trouble climbing hills which is why we had passing lanes on upgrades and there was most of all courtesy on the highway which is totally gone in today`s ‘I`m first get out of my way mentality’, a symptom of deeper problems with today`s society. Rates and standards for O/Os back then were pretty much synonymous in keeping up with union companies and by the way I have been in all phases of the transportation industry in my 45 years, Teamsters, O/O and management. It still all boils down to corporate greed and the old Roman law of divide and conquer and may the strongest and smartest and most ruthless survive and they will if you can turn worker against worker, company against company and basically destroy solidarity of any kind when it reels it`s threatening head against the bottom line. One final note John which I am sure you are aware of and that is that it was an O/O who attended a town hall meeting with Jimmy Carter that we can thank for de-regulation that put so many good companies out business and drove freight rates down so low i n the eighties no one could compete and who publicly stated twenty five years later he was sorry and made a mistake, one that cost all of us O/O or union driver.

  9. Brock

    Iv got 20 years no accidents and perfect driving record, i can think for myself, electronics are already a huge distraction adding more is only making it worse!

    Reply
  10. Art

    The only way to resolve this issue is to either shut them down, which you will not do, or follow the law to the letter, make everyone live by the law they created, if the freights not there on time, don’t worry about it, don’t hire a tow truck to pull you in for delivery,or honor any other requests that shippers or brokers request of you, no matter what they offer. Some will throw a little more money on the rate to talk you into honoring their request, you need to say no but you won’t, you’ll take the money, call the tow truck and you know it……that’s why it’s gotten to this point. If you’d of said no in years past , you’d still be using paper logs.
    You’ve done this to yourself

    Reply
  11. Riley

    Please support HR3282
    For far too long the FMCSA and lobbying groups such as the ATA have caused wounds to the industry. Then they try bandaid fixes to remedy the mess.

    The ELD mandate is not about safety. The 26 lives that the ATA claims will be saved by the implementation of the mandate? That number is within the margin of error in any poll of 1,000.

    Let’s take a look at the monetary aspect though. There are 3.97 million class A CDL truck drivers licensed in the US. I’ll use a conservative number of 3 million trucks. Multiply that number by an average of $32 per month; that equates to 96 million $ per month. Multiply that number by 12 for a per annum figure of over 1 billion $. This is not even taking into consideration the purchase of the product.

    The electronic logging devices were developed to micromanage large fleets and their drivers performance and productivity. Nothing more. Some mega carriers safety scores were so bad that they “had to do something” to improve them. What though? They became self insured so that they could hire freshly graduated (10 days to 4 weeks) students. Then they would place them with less than all seasons experienced trainers. Those hiring practices are horrendous and are a recipe for disaster. They then turn these teams loose on the highways with the general public. By the way, their safety scores are still bad.

    There are questions of concern about cyber security. Everyone says these devices are passive. They do have the ability to send and receive messages; correct? I’m no electronics expert but it would seem that a hacker could possibly gain access to the device. To quite possibly control different functions of truck performance. Maybe even to shut it down.

    This mandate is a huge problem with freedom and rights infringement. (I know; Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the constitution). That has been so bastardized throughout the years that it’s not even close to being used as per original intent. (My interpretation anyway). Way to go lawmakers!!!

    As I have stated, the ELD mandate is not about safety. Never was. It’s about control and money. Safety on the highways falls on the shoulders of the person operating the vehicle, period. No device can tell you when you’re tired, fatigued or ill. No device can make conscious common sense decisions.

    As a small business owner; I do not need the government micromanaging my business. I don’t need them placing an ankle bracelet on me or my equipment. I don’t need them making my business decisions for me. I am not a criminal. Yet you treat the trucking industry as though they are less than criminals.(?)

    By your own estimates; accidents involving commercial vehicles and automobiles 80% are caused by the automobile. Yet you see fit to punish the minority? Makes sense?

    If you like your ELD, you can keep your ELD. Just don’t force it on me.

    If you truly want to make the highways safer… have legislation introduced to have breathalyzers installed on ALL vehicles. Make it mandatory that data suspension devices be required in ALL vehicles once the vehicle is placed in gear; hands free calls only. Enforce speed laws. This would actually save thousands (if not tens of thousands of lives per year).

    The trucking industry is not a “one size fits all” industry.

    Sent from my iPhone
    Sent from my iPhone

    Reply
    • John holt

      Riley,you’re right about the ata bs on saving lives with elogs it you can follow the money trail from the ATA TO THE MEGA CARRIERS that are lining the ATA’S pockets because the big carriers are using the safety and save lives excuse .Its mighty funny to me that bs is coming from the big carriers because they have the worst safety ratings in the country 🤔

      Reply
  12. tim ho

    My company driver son’s outfit installed the ELD (aka: electronic tether) a bit ago. He figures it costs him more than $8,000 a year because hindering ‘the tether’ eliminates the ability to match arrival times with customer being willing to accept load time.

    Reply
  13. Jeremy Holmes

    Its very simple. The government needs to get out of our pockets or Americans are going to pay more!

    Reply
  14. Jeremy Holmes

    I am ok with the ELD’s as long as the shippers are willing to pay me 24 hours a day for my time away from home. I will charge accordingly or park my trucks. Look at it this way guys. It’s time for a raise to offset the b.s.!

    Reply
  15. Gary

    I refuse to play beat the clock like the rookie mega carrier drivers. I refuse to install a product in my truck that can be hacked. I refuse to buy a product that hasn’t even been certified buy the very government agency mandating that I use one.

    35 years without a single injury accident, or a at fault accident. And in that 35 years I’ve only ever received one log book violation. I’ve passed every single DOT audit and I’ve even recieved awards from my state for running a safe operation.

    The only thing that’ll produce safer drivers is better training. The mega carriers are putting undertrained drivers on our roads and they’re killing people. Elds do nothing to make our roads more safe.

    Reply

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