A recent OOIDA survey of 2000 owner operators found that drivers are already reporting increased issues with fatigue and parking as a result of controversial new ELD regulations.
The survey showed a dramatic number of truckers (more than 70%) reporting an increase in driver fatigue problems as a result of ELDs. An even larger number of surveyed truckers — about 85% — found that the struggle to find parking has increased since the ELD mandate went into effect. Many of the surveyed drivers indicated that they felt pushed to drive longer hours and at a faster pace than what they felt comfortable with even when they had time left on the clock.
Who is Going to Pick Up the Bill?
Drivers have also experienced increased expenses and economic adversity. For example, 53 percent of those who had purchased an ELD were required to pay an initial upfront cost. Moreover, 55 percent of those who had purchased a device were required to pay a monthly fee. For those who paid a monthly fee, 70 percent were charged per truck. The average fee per truck overall was nearly $40.00 with those owner-operators under their own authority and those leased-on to a carrier paying $33 and $35 a month respectively. While the mandate has only been in effect for two months, participants estimated that ELDs would decrease their annual income by a median of $25,000 due to missed loads and delays. “I have lost an average of two loads per week since the implementation. For years I’ve had a perfect CSA score. I have never been put out of service for a logbook violation, yet I’m required now to run an ELD,” said one survey participant.
The survey found that nearly 700 truckers hadn’t purchased ELD devices. Of the ones who had bought one. Seventy-eight percent said they were instructed on which ELD device to buy by their employer. OOIDA is concerned with ELD vendors who require contracts for a set period of time as FMCSA did not establish interoperability standards as part of the rule and many carriers utilize different devices and back office systems. Essentially this may mean more costs for the driver that the employer won’t pick up. The average length of the lease contracts signed were 18 months.
In fact, 61 percent of respondents indicated that their concerns with the rule would be lessened if they were able to stop the 14 hour clock. One member commented, “If the ELD rule is to remain, the HOS regulations need to be changed to remove the 14-hour window as it causes us to push harder to complete a run than we otherwise would.” “Taking a nap because I’m tired or ill or screwing up my sleep schedule and having to drive a certain shift when I’m not used to it, having to combat rush-hour traffic, and not having sufficient parking are all results of the new mandate. With the new rule, safety and common sense takes a back seat to government overreach and the wants of the big carriers so they can push out the smaller companies,” said one survey respondent.
ELD Safety Concerns
“I have drove when roads where bad and I knew I shouldn’t be out running.” One driver stated, “It [the ELD] forces me to operate my truck when fatigued. When you start your 14-hour day there is no way to regulate the clock. You are forced to keep moving. I have had times where I have to move through a city at rush hour instead of waiting till latter when traffic is light.”
Drivers responded that they have seen increased harassment from their employers as a result of their bosses being able to see their hours. One driver said, “carriers can see how many hours you have left and will at times pester a driver to get going in order to service the customer, disregarding the driver who may or may not be well enough to roll out.”
Overall, 78 percent of members noted that they have felt more pressure to drive when they felt it was better to stop and 71 percent have more felt pressured to drive in unsafe road conditions since the mandate went into effect. Several drivers stated that they have already witnessed an increase in risky driving behavior as well as an exacerbation of the truck parking crisis with many being forced to park on the side of the road. “Safety has been decreased. The reason is now you are on a time clock that is always pushing you. I panic when I am at a shipper or receiver and I see the clock running out on my drive time. I refuse to sleep on the side of the road. It is not safe.” Several drivers remarked that the ELD mandate has forced them to drive when they are tired, lose family time, increase stress and fatigue, and ultimately caused them to shut down their business altogether. One person summarized it best, “The job and lifestyle is tough, the business is challenging, the industry is a complete mess, the FMCSA is a total joke and the ELD is the punchline. And I can assure you, nobody is laughing.”