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Owner-Operators Ask the White House for Help with ELD

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A group of owner-operators has asked the POTUS to reconsider or reintroduce US House of Representatives Bill 5948 and 5949.  The President does not have the authority to introduce or reintroduce bills into the House or Senate. These independent operators are hopeful since the POTUS has shown interest in trucking issues in the past, he will find a way to exempt small trucking enterprises with less than ten drivers. Plus, HB 5949, if approved, would exempt certain agricultural drivers from the mandated use of the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) that has been enforced since December of 2017 with few exceptions.

The FMCSA’s Hours of Service (HOS) Rules

The FMCSA has shown an interest in getting more input from drivers, at least on the surface. Ray Martinez, the FMCSA’s Administrator, has more recently appeared at more events focused on drivers than trucking firms, such as the Mid-America Truck Show in 2018, where he stated, “I can’t change the law, but I can look at regulations.”

The FMCSA is already in the middle of looking at four issues that affect drivers:

  1. Expansion of the 100 air-mile rule to fourteen hours rather than the current twelve to better align with the 11/14 hour rule.
  2. Expansion of the on-duty limitation by two hours due to inclement weather.
  3. Revamping the eight-hour break rule.
  4. Reinstituting the split sleeper-berth option.

Many drivers believe a significant part of the driver shortage, beyond pay, is the over-regulation of the industry. There has been a movement among independent truckers to draw attention to some of their concerns.

Who Is “Black Smoke Matters” and What Do They Want?

A group of mostly independent truckers who call themselves Black Smoke Matters have been attempting to organize the shutdown of commerce transportation on April 12, 2019. They hope to bring attention to several conditions that affect drivers, including HOS, use of the ELD, parking along our nation’s highway (plus, free use of that parking), and a focus on driver involvement when making new regulations concerning transportation.

The group’s mission statement is, “When any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it.” Which is a part of the Declaration of Independence.

It’s unclear just how much support the truckers have within the ranks of owner-operators and large trucking company drivers. If the group does gather enough attention, they could disrupt trucking commerce. However, it takes a significant commitment to turn down cargo transports that will put food on the table.

The Basics of the ELD Mandate  

Congress voted to implement the ELD to automate how truckers log their driving hours so that there would be no opportunity for drivers to misrepresent the number of hours spent behind the wheel. However, there is no perfect solution when there are variables that need to get fixed. 

The ELD is designed to track the number of hours the engine was running. Therefore, it should provide the exact number of hours the driver has been behind the wheel. Just like everything else, there are instances when the engine is running, but the driver is not actually driving. For example, when someone else fuels the truck or otherwise engages in maintenance of the vehicle, and during personal conveyance when a driver is “supposedly” off-duty, while loading and unloading, etc. 

Although there are workarounds for these instances, it also leaves a chance for unscrupulous drivers to fudge their ELD. Therefore, the ELD is not that much different than a paper log in that it can be manipulated. Most drivers are upright and sincere about their driving hours, but some will attempt to drive as long as possible to make as much money as possible. However, the repercussions for getting caught fraudulently adjusting driving hours and breaks can be costly. 

When a driver gets stopped at a roadside inspection or for a traffic violation, if their ELD is not up-to-date there are severe penalties, but none are as bad as an allegation of “fixing” a log. A driver could receive ten Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) points, plus an out-of-service (OOS) order. 

There are cases of drivers who falsified their log, fell asleep and caused an accident which resulted in them serving  jail time. One driver, in 2012,  caused an accident on I-5 due to falsifying logs and was  sentenced to 18 months. Likewise, those carriers who force a driver to falsify their log could be fined up to $175,000 plus civil restitution. Therefore, drivers must avoid any fraudulent activity. When ticketed because of an HOS violation, consult a CDL traffic attorney. 

Consult a CDL Traffic Attorney About a Ticket in Roseville, CA

When you receive a traffic ticket in Placer County, call Bigger & Harman at (661) 349-9300. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755. We represent clients with overweight truck violations, permits, bad equipment, speeding, and others. 

We have a solid reputation with CDL holders in Northern and Central CA. We only practice traffic law and use a flat fee so that you always know where you stand and how much you will pay. Regardless of how many times we must appear in court, the price will not go up, and you can continue to drive while we resolve your ticket instead of you trying to take time off to go to court.

Give us a call to discuss your case. The initial consultation is free, and you are under no obligation to continue. Send us an email, attorney@biggerharmanlaw.com.