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Q: Should black boxes be used to track hours of service in the U.S.?

REGINA, Sask. - With its proposals for new hours of service regulations, the U.S. has introduced the idea of legislating electronic monitoring devices that would take the place of traditional logbooks...





REGINA, Sask. – With its proposals for new hours of service regulations, the U.S. has introduced the idea of legislating electronic monitoring devices that would take the place of traditional logbooks.

Truck News visited the Husky House Restaurant on Hwy. 1, east of Regina, to gauge drivers’ reactions.

Lee McQuitty of Flying J Trucking in Oxbow, Sask. says he’s split on the issue. “In some ways it is good because if you were in an accident the black box would let you know if fatigue was a factor,” says McQuitty, who drives a 1997 Freightliner FLD. “On the other hand, it really should be controlled by the driver. A good driver should know the regulations himself and shouldn’t have to worry about government poking their nose into his business.”

Wade McEwen of Farr Farms in Regina says that if the legislation does pass, then he’ll likely not drive in the U.S. McEwen, who drives a Peterbilt 377, also wonders if the legislation will be applied the same to all drivers – cattle haulers, for example, have special needs since cattle can only be held in transit for so long. Making a cattle driver stop for a rest with only two hours to go before he reaches his destination doesn’t seem fair to him.

As well, if electronic monitoring is required for truck drivers, then McEwen says that all drivers should receive similar treatment. “There’s a statutory holiday coming up and there will be lots of campers on the highway. If they are in an accident, it could be due to driver fatigue and that would be discovered if that had to have a black box, too,” says the 20-year industry veteran.

Another driver who shares McEwen’s sentiments is Rod Little, who drives a Peterbilt 379 for Alberta-based Home Bound. He says that hours of service wouldn’t be a problem if drivers could haul for 14 hours and then take 10 hours off. This system would result in fewer drivers needing to rush to meet their destinations and face undue stress along the way, he says.

Little says he sees the underlying problem as customers who want their deliveries yesterday, causing drivers to make up for lost time. Governments don’t understand the stress that drivers are under to meet these deadlines, he says.

“If they are going to do this, then the rates for drivers will have to go up,” declares Don Krupski, who hauls for Regina-based Triangle Movers and Classic Carriage Inc. “You have to pay people accordingly. That’s why there are so many logbook violations now.”

Krupski, who has been a driver for 35 years, says that industry must be considered a trade and not a part-time occupation. Drivers should be treated as professionals and apprenticeship programs should be developed to ensure there are high standards in the industry. The development of pension plans would also help the industry’s image, he suggests.

“We are an important part of the system and most people do not realize it. If we were to stop driving for three days, then the entire country would be brought to a standstill.” n


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