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OOIDA’s irresponsible stance on ELDs


Five years ago, when the issue of mandating electronic logging devices first started to heat up, I commented in this space that I found the “consistent and loud opposition coming from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) puzzling, if not irresponsible.”

As you will have read with our cover story this issue, the US Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) has now issued its long-awaited final rule on ELDs, making them mandatory for truckers in the US as of December 2017.

It comes as no surprise that OOIDA remains vehemently opposed. Reading through OOIDA’s defense of its position on ELDs, I’m no longer puzzled. I think I understand what drives OOIDA logic – and I use that term very loosely – on this issue. And I consider their position even more irresponsible than I did five years ago. OOIDA had previously scuttled FMCSA’s plan to mandate ELDs with a legal challenge that argued ELDs could be used by shippers and carriers to harass drivers into using up all their legally available driving time, even when tired. Bit of a stretch, I thought, but okay let’s make sure drivers don’t get abused by unscrupulous carriers and shippers.

This time, a few weeks before publishing its final rule on ELDs, FMCSA passed a law that prohibits the coercion of drivers by motor carriers, shippers, receivers and other transportation intermediaries. It even went so far as to build into the final rule safeguards to prevent driver harassment, including the requirement for a mute button on the device that can help prevent a driver from being disturbed by dispatch while in the sleeper berth.

What’s left for OOIDA to oppose? Nothing, if you’re willing to take a logical approach to the situation. But that’s clearly not OOIDA’s plan. From what I can see, there are two reasons OOIDA remains opposed to this legislation.

First, because it is legislation supported by the American Trucking Associations, a carrier association. And in OOIDA’s “us versus them” view of things, legislation supported by carriers can’t be good for O/Os.  The second reason is that OOIDA would rather keep hiding our industry’s dirtiest secret – the fact that paper logs are easy to falsify and often are – than do anything about it.

Right now the fallout from inefficiencies caused by delays, paperwork errors and other issues all too often get pushed down to the driver. Drivers, faced with the possibility of losing income or running out of hours before getting home as a result of these inefficiencies, feel compelled to cheat the logbook.  Yes, that puts some money in drivers’ pockets. Yes, it gets them home more often. But it also keeps our broken system of hours-of-service broken forever. Rather than fixing it, we cheat it.

If it was much harder to cheat the system, as would be the case with ELDs, carriers would have to deal with the inefficiencies in their operations. They would have to confront shipper practices that delay drivers and they would have the data at hand to prove it. This will not be easy. It will require change. But in the end, OOIDA’s own members stand to benefit. So why isn’t OOIDA in favour of ELDs? Jim Johnston, OOIDA president and CEO, describes the ELD rule as “absolutely the most outrageous intrusion into the rights of professional truckers imaginable.”  I will do him one better: I think OOIDA’s opposition to ELDs shows “absolutely the most outrageous abandonment of the rights of professional truckers imaginable.”


Lou Smyrlis

Lou Smyrlis

With more than 25 years of experience reporting on transportation issues, Lou is one of the more recognizable personalities in the industry. An award-winning writer well known for his insightful writing and meticulous market analysis, he is a leading authority on industry trends and statistics.
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17 Comments » for OOIDA’s irresponsible stance on ELDs
  1. Johanne Couture says:

    I beg to differ with your opinion, which I believe echos the CTA and OTA, also representing big carriers. OOIDA has always taken a stand against ELDs, because it represents small carriers, many of them a one truck operation, which is 90% of carriers in North America. This added cost of technology and unnecessary monitoring is an added financial burden to small carriers who have already structured their business to meet HOS rules constraints.
    The one truck operator doesn’t have a back office to monitor and administer this unnecessary technology. ELDs are and added cost, and an unwanted intrusion into private business.

    On your point of providing data for carriers, shippers and receivers to fix their inefficiencies, should these same people not already believe what the industry has been telling them for many years? They don’t want to change or fix the issues, because it has bottom line and rate implications…… well, maybe, just maybe the drivers have the same implications, and also don’t want to change!

    We have all seen the numerous examples of big carriers who have made the switch to ELD, and a large number of their drivers loose 25% of their pre ELD revenue, let’s be realist, most people can’t afford to loose that revenue.

    The problem with the ELD debate is the realists vs the idealists, we will never agree.

    • Joe says:

      Way 2 go. I thought we actually had freedom to make our own decisions instead of fmcsa being our parents. If a company wants to use eld’s go for it….that is their choice……if a driver wants to use it….that is their choice…..dont shove this flawed study down our throats about safety….never been proven….way 2 go ooida at least there is someone standing up for drivers. The only one being irresponsible is the moron who wrote the article!

  2. meslippery says:

    Quote Lou:Yes, that puts some money in drivers’ pockets. Yes, it gets them home more often.
    —————————————-
    But it saves you having to spend 10 to 15 minutes a day not putting pen to paper whats not to love?

  3. meslippery says:

    Cell phone technology took off with out mandate.
    If ELDs was something as good people would camp out side the store, waiting for it to open to buy it.
    When you force it on unwilling buyers…
    Cant be as good as you say it is.

  4. meslippery says:

    Quote Lou: abandonment of the rights of professional truckers imaginable.”

    What about the right to partake in this new technology or not?
    With out having to buy a pre. 2000 model year truck.

  5. Angelo D says:

    Spot on. If the trucking industry is ever going to evolve out of past to a well defined and heightened state of professionalism, this should not be shun be OOIDA.
    ELD’s force all parties involved in scheduling and predicting a drivers day not to make loose or compressing assumptions about real time lines.
    We can finally look back on those days of bragging that running 2 log books to run Florida and back solo was acceptable behaviour. The book that started on a Tuesday and the book that started on a Wednesday to return by Monday. As an example that with 11 hours of driving time a day, the days of running Florida to Toronto in 5 days are over and probably a good time to take on and mentor a newbie for a team effort instead.
    As for the harassment angle, the real influences and pressures to drivers are much more subtle that what the OOIDA thinks. It’s more like having to compete for miles with drivers who cheat and run themselves to the ground before their time. Some like to use words eager or hard working to describe the drivers that become the apple of the dispatchers eye, but sometimes they’re just of no mind, no proper pace, and workaholics.
    Hopefully, the hourly rate variables in the equation of the drivers day will get the memo.

  6. meslippery says:

    When did they move Florida?
    Google Toronto to Tampa 20hr 3mins 2149kms(1335 miles)
    Two 11 hour days to get there and the same to get back.
    Florida and back in 4 days.

    • Angelo D says:

      That’s to Jacksonville which is a conservative assessment.
      Add another 8-12 hours to get to the produce shipment zones of Apopka to Miami and a day of multiple pickups.
      The variables in the equation are not that cut and dry. That’s the kind of assessment from a dispatcher, not real time or real events like breaks and regular checks in maintenance.
      It’s like saying Montreal is only 6 hours from Toronto do you should be able to turn a Montreal every night… In theory.
      The clock had no pause button in the USA. I was usually 30 hours in by the time I reached Miami.
      Cheating does it in 5 days – not 6-7 and that’s where the temptation to cheat comes from.

  7. rick gregoire says:

    Having driven for the last 24 years ,I keep wondering why I keep working 14 hours a day for the same net pay as a loader makes in 8.Heaven knows I would never falsify my logs,that would mean working longer everyday for the same money.

  8. Dan Cardinal says:

    I have no respect for the OTA especially with the speed limiter rules that were brought in by the whining of many carriers with skeletons in their closets. However, the harassment part of ELDs that OOIDA is presenting is what made me give my their membership. ELDs don’t harass: dispatchers and customers do by phoning us for updates. Nice thing about modern cellphones is that I can block numbers or put schedules on ringers. my ELD only made my logging life easier….

    I had an ELD and I knew how to use it to my advantage… just… don’t ask as… well…. as anything computerized, there are backdoors. 😉 The more technologically advanced we become, the more opportunity there is…. Shall I say GPS spoofers? Or short range jammers?

  9. John says:

    As above ELD will cause bad shippers/receivers to clean up there act, some receivers are now allowing truck parking because carriers are avoiding them as drivers run out of hours. I am new to ELD and after 30 plus years of driving I will adjust and as an O/O will see some rates increase or customers dropped. There will be some pain over the next year or so but I think it will work but I have been wrong before:)

  10. Rick says:

    Great, so Lou Smrylis who only knows trucking from an office chair is yet another know it all forcing their view of the world onto a driver’s day to day life. I wonder how these people would like finding themselves two hours from home, but due to a delay in traffic or at a border crossing suddenly are out of hours and miss their 3 yr old’s birthday, or kid’s high school graduation because their electronic on board recorder prevents them from “making it work”.

    Seems the OOIDA are the only ones remaining who understand there are human beings in those trucks and we citizens have a right to privacy and are supposedly “free”. I’m so sick of hearing Gov’t & Enforcement officials talk about verification of our activities. Who the hell died and made them kings, verifying what I do. How about we impose electronic monitors on them, see how they like it.

    The trucking industry & companies are so inept at hiring and monitoring their own employees, they want the government to circumvent the rights of Canadian citizens and “Electronically Monitor” those Canadians 24 hrs a day on the behalf of industry, and Canadians are willing to accept this? Criminals apparently have more rights than truck drivers. The Soviet Union & Communist China maybe watch their people like this, but I thought our grandfathers fought for us to be free…instead drivers are willing to sign up for all this monitoring and willing to be fined for things they do during a day …?

    And the same industry that is asking for our citizens to be monitored worse than criminals bemoans the fact that they can’t find anyone wanting to drive a truck any more … hmmm …

    Abysmal pay, forced time a way from home & family with 24 hr monitoring of when you eat, when you sleep, when you pee, & where you do so, … no overtime, no benefits, no pension, treated like garbage from society & your employers industry, and by public “servants”, … sleep in a tin box on the side of the road, … sounds like a great career choice kids…. And next the want to have cameras pointed at us to record us in the cab. Where does this friggn intrusion stop.? Answer … it doesn’t. These control freaks are never satisfied.

    How about these trucking industry executives take some responsibility in who they hire, and better than that, how about Gov’t and the police impose rules on the freight industry and not individual workers within it, similar to all other industries. The fines for rule infractions should be imposed on the industry / companies and not its workers. Lets electronically monitor David Bradley, Lou Smrylis and all these company & association executives and see what they are doing during their days, see how willing they accept being treated like criminals.

    Lastly, with all this GPS and satellite tracking, they can already track hrs of service for every truck & piece of equipt without a driver incriminating themselves by volunteering the info in a log … so start paying every driver by the hr from the moment they show up for work til the moment they go home, and overtime after 40 hrs per week … that will eliminate the need for drivers to work 18 hrs days in a rolling sweatshop just to pay rent and groceries.

    Wake up people, your fathers & grandfathers never would have accepted this ! If drivers accept this onboard recording of themselves, then they will have allowed the government 24 hr control of our lives without ever having to fire a shot.

    • Jennie Taylor says:

      I am so In agreement with Rick where does it stop at if we truckers allow these ELD’S in our trucks I can only imagine what they will FORCE ON US NEXT . I say if you want to have these ELD’S in your truck cause your too LAZY OR TOO DUMB TO DO PAPER LOGS then by all means put the ELD’S in your truck But DON’T FORCE ME AND OTHERS LIKE ME THAT ARE AGAINST THESE ELD’S AND MAKE ME PUT ONE IN MY TRUCK IT IS INVASION OF MY PRIVACY AND MY RIGHTS it’s bad enough that I brought a truck that uses that DEF when there’s nothing wrong with the old way the trucks were made at least when the old ones broke down you could work on them yourself but these news hell the mechanics can’t half work on them another fine example when LIBERALS and the GOVERNMENT TRYS TO STICK THEIR NOISE INTO SOMETHING THEY DON’T UNDERSTAND .IF YOU DON’T drive or especially own a truck then don’t come up here telling me how and what I need to do I’ve been in trucking since the day I was born not saying I know everything but I do know I don’t need ELD’S logging in my life. I believe in my freedom of choice I also know when I’m tried or when I need to go to the bathroom or even when I get hungry I don’t need a device telling me what to do. So I’m telling you MR . GOVERNMENT MAN STAY THE HELL OUT OF TRUCKING ESPECIALLY OUT OF MY TRUCK AND MY LIFE I DON’T NEED YOU. … I’VE HAD ENOUGH.

  11. jacob says:

    Screw electronic logs I run paper I own this truck not the government I’m tired of idiots making laws and rigging studies so they can get there way we need people to represent this industry who has been out here and knows what it’s like elds will not help in any way all the truck wrecks are usually big companies with elds the government needs to take a step back let us do our jobs and stay out of our lives

  12. Chuck L. says:

    W iskey, T ango, F oxtrot, Over.I’ve been driving over 40 years in the USA and Canada. I can remember when I started driving. Paper Log books were NOT even manditory in Canada. I was driving when the International Speed limit was 55mph. Before KM in Canada Became the Standard measurement of distance traveled.
    This whole log book Issue is a Joke. Just another way to control US UNSKILLED LABORERS. Keep us at the poverty line.
    They want to mandate E-Logs. Fine,……. Then how about paying us by the hour for every hour we have to log ” ON DUTY, or ON DUTY NOT DRIVING.”
    No More of this Mileage, or Revenue based pay.
    I think, A $35.00 /hr for a seasoned driver ( over 5 yrs OTR experience.) would be fair.
    For every additional year of service an additional $1.00 increase. Also, Overtime after 44Hrs, at time and a half. Plus Stat holiday pay. I also believe drivers who spend more than TWO consecutive days away from home and Family should also be entitled to ICESOLATION Differential.
    How about stuffing that up your E-Log!!!!! Management and Dot and General Public and FMCSA.

    • Steve says:

      I absolutely without question agree with the aforementioned…..BOG GOV DOT FMSCA PENCIL PUSHING DESK JOCKEYS ETC ETC ETC HAVE ZERO RIGHT TO COMMENT ON TRUCKS!!!!!…
      I have been in a truck for 2+ decades my grandfather was a trucker…. I KNOW WTF NEEDS TO HAPPEN FRONT TO BACK OF THIS INDUSTRY TO MAKE IT WORK!!!!….Lou Smyrlis or any other legislating desk jockey you have NEVER BEEN “MARRIED TO YOUR IRON”…….and that sadly is what must occur for EVERY piece of our way of life to exist….

      EVERYTHING you see

      House roads clothes food fuel streets street signs streetlights desk pencils desk pencils house food tampons toilet paper kids school bags kids clothes kraft dinner TV mattress shower FOOD ETC ETC ETC is only available for you because some trucker only saw

      Road
      Truck
      Load
      Work
      Truck work ETC ETC ETC (missed his 1-28 yr olds EVERYTHING wife upset marriage damaged lonely fucking existence “MARRIED TO HIS IRON” to bring it to your lazy #ss!!!!!!………
      And he needs every chance he can get to hold on to what he’s got……

      YOU CLEARLY EITHER HAVE ZERO ACTUAL KNOWLEDGE WHAT IT TAKES TO SUPPLY YOU YOUR COMFORTABLE LIFE OR YOUR IN “CAHOOTS” WITH THE BIG OUTFITS WHICH ARE HOPING TO GET ALL THE WORK BY DEFAULT AND BY MAKING IT IMPOSSIBLE TO MAKE A BUCK FOR A LITTLE GUY…

      1 Truck company
      Fuel $1.00 /litre
      Tires $3-500
      Insurance cost $1k /month
      O/O (HUMAN)
      Driver
      Accountant
      Janitor
      Mechanic
      Grease monkey
      Tire guy
      Dispatch
      ETC ETC ( MARRIED)

      200 truck company
      $.60-70/L fuel cap
      $180-380 tires
      $500/month

      Plus all people
      under

      IM GONNA BE VERY CLEAR ABOUT THIS!!!!

      IF ELD’s( which are a JOKE right you are chuck ) become mandatory and enforced then i and MANY others with decades of experience will be done with trucking!!!

      F THAT…..

      the only way you will replace us all is with rookies(no offence to them but they don’t know ) or immigrated rookies/experienced that have WAY lower standards….

      ENJOY YOUR HIGHWAYS ONCE THAT HAPPENS!

      YOU WANNA REGUALTE EVERY SECOND OF OUR LIVES….

      Ok PAY US FOR EVERY SECOND/24hrs and then don’t cry to me when a cucumber costs $9 each!

      PHHHHHHH SQUARE HEADS!

  13. Rick Blatter says:

    “The rule aims to reduce fatigue-related crashes by drivers who may have doctored their paper logs to hide the real hours they have driven beyond what regulations allow.”

    Although drivers may “cheat” in the short term with paper logs, it allows them the FLEXIBILITY to get back on their CIRCADIAN RHYTHM. No one can indefinitely cheat… as any parent of a newborn knows. Sleep deprivation catches up, then you need to pay back the SLEEP DEPT.

    SLEEP DEPRIVATION is also a well known and widely used TORTURE TECHNIQUE. Drivers do not inflict TORTURE on themselves very long.

    RECENT RESEARCH SHOWS that electronic logs that dictate sleep against a driver’s CIRCADIAN RHYTHM don’t work. They are dangerous. ELDs cause MORE ACCIDENTS than paper logs!

    Electronic Logs, according to RESEARCH BOTH IN the USA & EUROPE, CAUSE MORE ACCIDENTS than paper logs. Undoubtedly because absurd rules that DESTROY a DRIVER’S CIRCADIAN RHYTHM due to their inflexibility and total disregard for human life are strictly enforced to the minute. A machine cannot dictate sleep nor rest, nor wakefulness, no matter what we try to legislate, or say. Only YOUR BODY can tell you this.

    The purpose of ELDs was to “REDUCE ACCIDENTS”, but the exact opposite is what is happening. Do we have a problem?

    “Last year the German insurance company Kravag reported an investigation that found trucks with digital tachograph were involved in more accidents than those with manual analog recorders.”

    Electronic logbooks in Europe: Endless row of misfortunes, or a paper pusher’s dream? – TruckingInfo.com

    http://m.truckinginfo.com/article/170315/electronic-logbooks-in-europe-endless-row-of-misfortunes-or-a-paper-pushers-dream

    Carriers with ELDs crash MORE

    Andrew King of the OOIDA Foundation says “FMCSA’s own data demonstrates that carriers with ELDs crash MORE than those carriers without such devices.”

    He goes on to say “FMCSA’s final rule was founded on nothing more than assumptions and what the OOIDA Foundation refers to as ‘we believe science.’ ”

    Considering that the FMCSA purports “the final rule stands to prevent an estimated….” (some fictitious number) “loss of lives and…” (some other fictitious number) “crashes annually while significantly strengthening compliance…” it would be interesting to take them to task for this.

    Based on ACTUAL STATISTICS from companies that have “voluntarily” implemented ELDs, is there ANY STATISTICAL DIFFERENCE in number of crashes and/ or deaths before and after? Has anyone found an improvement?

    Before implementing anything this costly industry wide there better be SCIENTIFIC PROOF behind such “mandates” and the many kinks in the system must be resolved beforehand.

    Normally in science there are TRIALS to make sure that the HYPOTHESIS is actually backed up by scientific evidence.

    Normally in science the hypothesis is checked out through SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH (TRIALS) BEFOREHAND to make sure that our hypothesis actually works and we do more good than harm. When it turns out that the hypothesis is wrong, it does more harm than good, or it is economically unviable, we go back to the drawing board before mass implementation.

    That’s “science”.

    “Experts” have admitted the new US HOS rules are “ABSURD”. So how did the FMCSA get away with changing something that worked and was tolerable to something that is “ABSURD” and violates every principle of healthy sleep known to man: maintaining a regular circadian rhythm (regularity, consistency, and not changing start times & sleeping patterns every day, which is what the “new rules” do)?

    And how can they justify forcing everyone to use ELDs if they have the exact opposite effect of what was hypothesized? I would “hypothesize” the major “problem” is the ill conceived “new rules”.

    ELDs force drivers to follow ABSURD rules to the minute or risk fines with no tolerance for traffic/ unforeseen delays/ complications. These NEW rules not only do not take into consideration a driver’s CIRCADIAN RHYTHM, they totally destroy it.

    Rather than the driver deciding/ feeling when he is sleepy, an unforgiving electronic device tells him when he must sleep. Dogs, Cats, Babies, Grand Parents, your parents, probably the “rule makers” and/ or their parents… all take naps. Whole cultures have taken afternoon naps for hundreds of years! (Mexicans, the Spanish…) Popular US “EXPERTS” have even written BEST SELLING books about the value of a “POWER NAP” for everyone, including top executives, to INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY. But somehow the FMCSA disagrees, or is oblivious to this!?

    Further, with no partial sleeper possibility, drivers are FORCED to drive non-stop (except for the obligatory 30 minutes pre 8 hr “rest”) for fear of running out of hours at the end of the day, whether sleepy or not.

    Then with 10 HOURS OBLIGATORY CONSECUTIVE TIME OFF, TOO MUCH TIME AT THE END OF THE DAY, drivers tend to eat humongous quantities of food at the end of the day just before going to bed !!! ???

    This goes against everything we know about HEALTHY sleep, driver health, and healthy eating habits.

    Since CANADA still uses the “old” humane rules of split sleeper berth, and requires only 8 consecutive hours off at night allowing drivers to have a BIG 2 HOUR LUNCH without fear of running out of hours at the end of the day, would it be possible to compare Canadian Crash Rates for big rigs with US Crash Rates using the new US rules? Are big rig crash rates higher in Canada using the “old US rules”? I am sure they are lower.

    As a matter of fact, I believe if US Crash Rates were compared before and after the “new rule” change, the “old rules” would be found much safer.

    The FMCSA claims the “accident/death rates are now lower” due to their “new rules” in the USA. However, in Canada the accident/ death rates are down too, using the “old rules”. So this “improvement” has nothing to do with their “new rules”. There are clearly other factors at play. Probably pressure from INSURANCE COMPANIES threatening careless carriers with exorbitant insurance rates, or threatening to cease insuring them at all if claims don’t decrease.

    I pray that science and common sense one day triumphs over propaganda and manipulation.

    The whole premise behind ELDs is “SAFETY”. Either they (ELDs) don’t work, or the “new rules” they force drivers to abide by don’t work.

    MORE RESEARCH is required to find the problem(s) and develop a real solution. This is why in “science” there are TRIALS.

    The most cost effective SOLUTION would be to give load brokers, shippers & receivers the same monetary fine(s) and CSA points as the driver/ carrier every time a driver pulling their load gets an HOS, over weight or over size fine. Making all trucking transportation partners ACCOUNTABLE for their actions/ coercion would put an end to this behaviour. The above would also leave a ticket trail to the guilty parties thereby exposing them and putting an end to their era of total impunity. This would also generate 3 (three) times more revenue for the government without adding BILLIONS of dollars of added equipment (ELDs) to trucks. Unnecessary equipment that is unproven, or actually PROVEN MORE DANGEROUS because in both the USA & EUROPE ELD equipped trucks CRASH MORE !!! ???

    Rick Blatter, B.Ed., M.Sc. holds a Master of Science degree in Exercise Physiology, and specializes in Employee Wellness & Fitness Programs. His thesis involved researching optimal sleep for HEALTH & LONGEVITY. He is Director of Safety, Loss Prevention & Wellness for a trucking company in Montreal, QC. He has been involved in trucking for 22 years, holds a CDL and has personally driven over two (2) million accident free miles all over Canada & the USA. Rick Blatter is a proud member of OOIDA.

    Rick Blatter, B.Ed., M.Sc.

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