The recently enacted ELD law (Electronic Logging Device) as part of former President Obama’s 2012 MAP-21 Act was supposed to be a good thing for the trucking industry. The law states that the hours driven for a commercial truck are electronically logged with a device installed in the truck. The point of the device is to ensure that truckers are following the regulations which allow driving only 11 hours per day, with a work day of only 14 hours. The work day includes the 11 hours of driving plus any other tasks done during the 24-hour period. This leaves a mandatory 10 hours to rest, while every 8 hours, drivers are required to take 30 min breaks.
Purpose of the ELD is to Create Safety
The goal behind the law was to promote safety. It was designed based on the assumption that drivers were driving while tired in order to accumulate more miles per day because they get paid by the mile. The mandate to rest after certain periods of time bore the intention to keep tired drivers off the road. It was estimated that enacting this safety law would prevent over 1500 crashes, over 500 injuries and more than 20 deaths per year.
Why Truckers Hate the ELD Mandate
Truckers complain that the mandate takes away their freedom and ability to create their own schedules. The mandate presupposes that the only time drivers sleep during the 24-hour period is outside of events on the list of “work” activities. Many times, unloading their truck is done after they’ve driven for 8 hours, during which they sleep for 4-6 hours. Then they drive another 5 hours before 8 hours of sleep. The difference as the new mandate reads, is that the unloading time, even if the driver is sleeping, is legally counted as “work” so goes against their 14-hour work limit. This reduces remaining drive time to only 8 hours total, so decreases the practical driving time by four more hours than before the mandate. Additionally, drivers take their 10-hour breaks around the same time, reducing available space at rest stops. They are often forced to stop on dangerous roadsides or risk breaking the law by being in the truck while searching for a place to stop.
Is Reckless Driving the Result?
Allowing less hours to drive makes truck driving far less lucrative, earning potentially $14,000 less income per year. Truck drivers are away from home often, so the pay-off used to be the extra money. Without that, many drivers quit to find better pay with less travel. Others take early retirement. Drivers who cannot quit complain that they are forced to drive faster and more recklessly in the attempt to regain mileage lost with less driving hours. In many cases, they are racing to beat the clock before it runs out for their 14-hour work day. Drivers are convinced that this has defeated the attempt to create safety, but in fact creates less safety for their profession.
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