Monday saw nationwide solidarity among self-employed truck drivers. At over 40 locations across the country, these owner-operators took a stand against an upcoming trucking mandate that is only weeks away.
The federal mandate that forces truckers to abandon their paper logbooks for electronic logging devices has been talked about and set up for over a year now. This doesn’t mean everyone is on board with the change – truckers from all types of backgrounds have voiced concerns about what the sweeping change will do to their industry.
Some drivers have even stated that the complications presented by the mandate could make their line of work too invasive or dangerous for them to continue. The ‘ELD or Me’ group raised awareness with that hashtag, and then assembled thousands of drivers across the country to make their voices heard.
Charlie Claburn, one of the protest’s organizers, spoke about the movement, saying: “We’re going to have some pretty heavy hitters speaking on Monday…truck drivers are all in it together – it’s a team effort. We’re going to get it done. We’re taking back what’s ours.”
He also noted that the protests go far beyond the addition of ELDs to rigs, stating that the mandate is only a small symptom of a bigger problem.
Drivers who are protesting the move claim federal regulation is making it too hard for them to do their jobs. Owner-operators are known for having a lot more flexibility in their line of work. The ELD mandate could change that in a big way, both by meddling in drivers’ schedules and paving the way for bigger, more invasive mandates in the future.
The purpose of the mandate is purportedly to stop drivers from violating hours-of-service rules. Truckers are only allowed so many hours on the road at a time, or in a day, before they must rest. But a safe truck stop may not always be around when the timeclock demands truckers to take a break. This could put them in harm’s way, highlighting another problem of truckers being targeted by criminals at stops across the nation.
Activists who are protesting the change also state it could have the opposite effect of what regulators intend. They say the greater chance of drivers being dinged for minor time violations, the more likely they are to attempt to ‘beat the clock’ by speeding to their destination and back.
They also noted that the change could disrupt shipping networks, as clients that are slow to load and unload orders could drag down drivers. This means even those who depend on drivers could be affected by the change in a negative manner.
There has also been controversy surrounding the implementation of these devices. Some drivers have claimed there are no clear indicators about which devices are certified as legal for their rigs, and there’s also very little information out there about ELD installation and servicing.
Truckers will likely continue making their voices heard on the issue even if the mandate goes into effect as planned on December 18.