Truckers scrambled to comply with a new federal rule requiring them to install digital devices in their semi-tractors to track their driving time.

The rule dictating the use of electronic logging devices, or ELDs, went into effect Monday.

Federal regulators say it will ensure that truckers comply with a federal hours-of-service rule. The rule limits driving to no more than 11 hours a day within a 14-hour workday. Drivers must then be off duty for 10 consecutive hours.

“We firmly believe that America’s truck drivers — if they were operating legally within the hours-of-service rules before today — will see tremendous benefits in using an ELD. Whether in reduced crashes, less time spent on paperwork or in fewer errors in their logbooks,” said Chris Spear, chief executive of the American Trucking Associations.

But although the ATA supports the new rule, others in the industry, including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, have opposed the regulation.  Truckers have complained that being digitally tracked is an invasion of their privacy. They said the rule doesn’t take into account the delays drivers experience at loading docks and in traffic. Some threatened to leave the industry rather than comply with the regulations.

But on Monday, many were just trying to figure out how to work their new devices.

Tim Philmon truck driver

Tim Philmon

Independent trucker Tim Philmon of Middleburg, Fla., spent most of Sunday evening attempting to pair his tablet and ELD device via a Bluetooth. The trucker said he started to experience technical problems shortly after heading out Monday to make a delivery in Sedalia, Mo. As of late Monday, Philmon said he had yet to talk to an ELD customer service representative, and his device still wasn’t working.

“I don’t mind using an ELD — I log legally anyway, but if I pull into a scale and get a ticket, it’s not going to be the device’s fault. It’s going to be my fault for not being able to produce an electronic log,” he told Trucks.com.

Public safety officials will cite motor carriers who are not using ELDs properly, but they won’t bar truckers in violation from driving until April 1, according to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance. The agency is charged with enforcing the ELD mandate.

As a stopgap, Philmon is using paper logs until the problem is fixed.

Under the new rule, truck operators have only eight days to repair or replace the device or risk fines.

“I know some are going to say it’s my fault that I should have had this in place before now, but I met the compliance date, but now the system is overloaded and I can’t get it fixed,” Philmon said.

Other truckers were reporting similar issues.

Lee Strebel of Gulf Breeze, Fla., started experiencing problems with his ELD on Friday. He said he hopes to have all of the bugs worked out before heading to Las Vegas later this week.

“I talked to my safety department, and they said we are having some issues right now,” Strebel told Trucks.com.

Strebel was among the many truckers hoping that the Trump administration would issue a last-minute delay in the rule’s implementation.

“I really didn’t want to use one, but now we don’t have a choice,” he said.

There are various estimates on how many truckers are complying with the new rule.

Motor carrier and driver surveys suggest that larger carriers have installed the devices on their trucks. However, smaller carriers and independent truckers were not prepared.

Approximately 75 percent of the 420 fleets surveyed by CarriersList and Kenco Group on Dec. 11 claimed to be ELD ready prior to the deadline.

However, an online survey by HELP Inc., the provider of PrePass weigh station bypass and technology services, found that of 1,620 respondents, 33 percent had selected and installed an ELD by early December.

Of those who have not installed an ELD, 68 percent said they did not plan to do so prior to Dec. 18, according to the survey, and 31 percent said they didn’t plan to install an ELD at all.

Some drivers, mainly independent truckers and small carriers, have threatened to leave the industry rather than switch to ELDs from paper logs.

John Peters

John Peters

John Peters of Gonzalez, Mexico, who drives for a U.S. carrier, said he had originally planned to quit Monday rather than install an ELD in his truck.

Though he plans to take a hiatus until mid-January, Peters said he now plans to stay in the industry until at least April, when his lease with another motor carrier expires.

“Unfortunately, I am going forward and working,” Peters told Trucks.com. “I was hoping for changes up until the last minute, but that didn’t happen. Thousands of truckers fought against the mandate, but the government got what it wanted.”

Republican Rep. Brian Babin of Texas has introduced legislation to delay the regulation for two years. But the bill is stalled. He also unsuccessfully urged Trump to issue a 90-day waiver from the regulation, which didn’t happen.

Babin issued a statement Monday notifying truck drivers and others affected by the mandate “to assume that it will be in place for the foreseeable future.”

The estimated cost to implement ELDs is approximately $2 billion. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration estimates that ELDs will prevent 1,844 crashes, 562 injuries and save 26 lives annually by keeping tired truckers off the road. Switching to electronic logs also is expected to eliminate more than $1.6 billion in paperwork costs for motor carriers and law enforcement agencies reviewing drivers’ logs, according to the FMCSA.

Read Next: Column: The Real Injustice of Trucking’s ELD Mandate

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.

11 Responses

  1. Fld

    Helooo drivers welcom in the socialism and comunism.that not electronic logbook they ownet the your truck if you conect the GPS divice whit the modem after check eng you be out of survice etc shoot down ,speed and evriting

    Reply
  2. Dale Rogers

    The fact that I campaigned and voted for Donald J Trump makes me sick to my stomach just another lying politician

    Reply
  3. Phil

    Trump ain’t study nothing and y’all still believing in that jackass now every trucker (Paper Log) taking major hits !! Is this what make America treat again means ??

    Reply
  4. Bebe Enteo

    This is good, but they also need to improve truck stops.
    In NJ, the two main East-West interstates, Rt. 78 and Rt. 80, have trucks stopped along the shoulders for miles because there are insufficient truck stops. As a daily commuter, especially in the cold-weather months when the sun rises later, it is dangerous when the trucks lumber out on the road when you’re bearing down at at least 65 mph.
    So, the government should work with local governments and open more and larger truck stops so these drivers can rest safely and off the right-of-way.
    Just a concerned car driver!

    Reply
  5. Gary Geick

    I am so glad that I am at the end of a wonderful 40 year career. The government is making it harder and harder to make it out here. Yet they have still missed the mark. They don’t seem to realize that you can’t legislate sleep. Don’t get me wrong I don’t mind using these devices to keep track of my hours. However it should only be tracking total hours, not telling me when and how much to sleep. I don’t even sleep that many hours at home and don’t know of many people that do. Could you imagine any other job that tells you that once you are done your work shift, you now have 2 hours to get home eat supper and get to bed for 8 full hours of sleep or the police will come to your house and arrest you. Kind of ridiculous don’t you think.
    Just a little side note, I probably get less rest now than I did under the old system when I could work until tired and the just pull over for a sleep. Not like now when a computer let’s me know when I’m tired and how long to sleep.

    Reply
  6. Gerardo

    Os so easi …we need stop all truck movement in all usa every Monday and Thursday and Star to Work the next day. We need stop the mobility of the commerce if the state put a lot of regulations we need put our voice in the national economy like Gandi in India Pacific manifestation in all country only we need stop the coutry 2 days a week.. We lost money but if don’t taking action lost our freedom..thanks..

    Reply
  7. Waldo

    This government is or has taken the work ethic away from a man . The last time I got eight hours of sleep hummmm can’t remember and now I’m angry that I’m three hours from home and I have to set and watch the clock tick… oh this Publix load will be late because I’m going home and this load can set in the field for four days maybe it will be the Diet Coke that this back stabbing president doesn’t get

    Reply
  8. steve strickland

    the big boys and unions are celebrating a major victory on a war they been fighting for decades to get rid of the competitions against owner ops and small trucking companies that actually deliver on time which they cant seem to do with the low paying monkeys they attract… ive already seen the affects on a major route from south texas to dallas. pre eld was 40-70 trucks per mile both ways. all this week its barely gets near 20.. prepare for shelves going dry and empty in the coming months

    Reply
  9. Cesar

    Phone ASOS are dangerous, officer can look over your entire social media if he suspect something.
    Best ELD unit in the market is the VDO Roadlog. Comes with a built in printer. Perfect for O.O.

    Reply
  10. Bigdee

    This is not a Democrat country. When a government controls your bottom line . force you to go into the 21st century with unconfirmed rumors of companies that doing the study being paid or funded by the computer industry we didn’t have a chance we need to get our own studies done from a fair and impartial firm start working towards 2020 the new President can help us but we have to voice our opinion and put our support behind the person that is going to look out for our pocket book and to the punks that think that every body just need to get with the times wait till these devices end up in your car remember driving is a privilege not a law they are using the trucking industry to test it idiots

    Reply

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