Thursday, April 26, 2012

The beatings will continue until morale improves

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor

Recent statements by the American Trucking Associations that electronic on-board recorders improve driver morale are insulting to say the least.

ATA President and CEO Bill Graves made the claim on Wednesday, April 25, as part of the association’s push to get Congress to mandate EOBRs in all trucks. It shows just how far the ATA is willing to go to further its agenda.

Graves started off his comments by saying EOBRs can help trucking operations improve routes, and manage fuel usage and other aspects involved with a fleet.

“In addition, research shows that drivers at fleets using electronic logging devices report improved morale,” Graves said. He then urged lawmakers to join “the vast majority in the trucking industry who want to further improve trucking’s compliance and safety record.”

These statements are insulting, and here’s why. For starters, the ATA does not represent or speak for drivers. Secondly, EOBR tracking technology likely has the opposite effect on driver morale.

Truckers have been subjected to pressure to meet delivery schedules set by other people since the beginning. Job pressure to keep moving can range from encouragement and incentives to outright harassment and threats.

Drivers routinely get calls and messages during breaks and rest periods and ordered to keep those wheels turning. As long as a driver has available hours left, he or she is expected to move at all costs.

The harassment issue is one of the main reasons OOIDA sued and beat the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s initial rule on electronic on-board recorders in court.

Why then would the ATA, or anyone else for that matter, think that EOBRs would improve driver morale? An EOBR is no different than any other method or device used to keep the truck wheels turning – without regard to whether a driver is tired or in serious need of a break.

Points about efficiency and productivity are one thing, but that hardly qualifies something like an EOBR for a government mandate. Big-business trucking can try to make an argument about safety, but they have nothing to show EOBRs would improve safety over paper logs.

Because an EOBR only logs the time the truck is moving, there’s no accounting for other industry pressures and hours-of-safety concerns such as uncompensated detention time at the docks or shutting the truck off throughout the day to throw off the clock.

If tired drivers are forced to keep driving because an EOBR says they have time left on the clock, then how does that improve safety?

Safety stats for trucking are as positive as they’ve ever been, yet truckers continue to face an ever-broadening onslaught of laws and regulations as if the numbers were getting worse. Talk about a blow to driver morale.

We found something else interesting this week.

The FMCSA has announced it is looking for carriers to participate in a survey about on-board safety systems and driver performance.

These include driver behavior monitoring, lane/roadway departure warning, forward collision warning, fatigue monitoring, alcohol detection, automated onboard recording of driver logs and continuous naturalistic data collection.

No doubt they have “improved driver morale” in mind, as well.


  1. i love it the railroad will have all trucking befor this is all over with shit 2 guys with a 3millon tons folling tracks we r heading there guys look out im keeping a cool head hear u no morales lol

  2. Let's pick another group of people who touch many lives on a daily basis . . . how about the medical community. In order to do their job every day would they be willing to submit to drug testing every time their license is renewed and PAY to belong to a random pool in between? How about having to keep a detailed log of their entire working day verifying that they only work a designated number of hours? Or how about if they had to wear a monitoring device that would shut them DOWN after 11 hours of work in a 24 hours period no matter WHAT the circumstances are? Or how about they have to take mandated rest breaks during the middle of their working day? Or how about we require THEM to become a targeted test group so that research can be furthered at the THEIR expense? Recently the increase in regulations has increased exponentially!

    My husband works very hard to do his job - he IS a professional driver. He is away from home most of the time and yet he is treated like he has an IQ of 60. He is a SMART man: he keeps track of his hours; he works with disagreeable people nearly every day; he is very conscientious about keep track of expenses; he is very knowledgeable about the equipment he uses and keeps it in good working order; he KNOWS what kind of money he needs to make in order to stay in business. In short, he has many talents, all of which are necessary to be a successful owner-operator. He is not ASKING for anyone's help . . . he is capable of taking care of his own business. He is also NOT asking for more regulations which will eventually put us OUT of business!!!

    So why is it that there are those in the ATA who want to dictate every phase of how he does his job, especially when most of them have never been a truck driver? And that goes for the FMCSA, too! Who gave them the authority to ruin our way of life, especially when they cannot give a valid reason for doing so. Like the EPA and others, if the facts don't back up what they want to do, they just change the "facts"!

    Perhaps it is time for truckers across America to take two designated weeks off and let Americans find out who really delivers goods around this country! Do you think that the railroad and people like Warren Buffet are going to be up to the job? There are going to be those who say, "Oh, I have to keep working or I won't be able to pay my bills." The real question is if we don't stand up for ourselves pretty quick, we will be regulated right out of business, and THEN how are you going to pay the bills?

  3. I would think each company would be able to decide what is best for their efficiency.
    O wait, we now live in the nanny state where bureaucrats think only they know what is best for the people.
    Long Live the Prolitariate...NOT!!
    I'm not sure what profile to use so I will use anonymous but my name is Mike Corwin

  4. As a driver with 20+ years I see me being out of trucking in the next 2-3 years. The last accident I was involved in was setting at the Ford plant in Atlanta,Ga. but because I weigh 280 lbs and have a neck larger then 17 in. I am a unsafe driver. Because 1time in 20+ years I was put out of service because of a WRONG DATE on my logs and a mad DOT officer. Now I need EORB to improve my morale. And lets talk safety after fat, unsafe, no-logging drivers with safe driving records get fed up and leave the industry we will have Swift drivers with their bought CDL's and the likes of them. Yep sounds safer to me. I like Mike above will do Anonymous stating my name is Joseph L.Barr,

  5. I'm sure the ATA really does believe that EOBRs will improve morale. But they are also part of the management in an industry that thinks an annual turnover rate of employees of ONLY 80% is a good thing and brag about it!

  6. Yes, I'm running under e-logs. There is nothing more morale-boosting than to be five miles from a shower and meal and hearing the alarm sound with the announcement that I have violated Hours of Service rules.

    Yes, it is very motivating to get a good load and having to turn it down because you will be ten miles short of delivery when you run out of time. Oh and the exhilaration that comes over me when I am ready to go but the e-log says I have to wait another ten minutes.

    I feel so much safer when I leave a customer and drive one mile to the truckstop, in the same town, and the e-log shows me driving for seven minutes. Or the time I was at Mal-Wart DC and drove 0.8 miles to get from the guard gate to the dock and I charged 12 minutes driving time.

    Gary Dewyn

  7. I have 24 years of driving with 3000000 safe miles. I haul automotive freight and we use EOBRs with no problem. Why drivers sit at docks for hours without getting paid is beyond me. I get paid for all my time. We could use 20 more drivers if we could get them but apparently drivers prefer to sit with no pay. Stop asking the government to solve your problems. Tired? Pull over. Keep a good driving record and you won't fear being let go. Grow a pair and take charge of your own life. I have been here ten years but if they were to fire me I would have another job before I got off the property. EOBRs are not a problem. Mark

    1. Spoken just like a true company driver that knows very little about trucking except driving one. BY THE WAY I WANT NOTHING FROM THE GOVERMENT EXCEPT FOR THEM TO STAY OUT OF MY BUSINESS AND LET THE ONE THAT KNOWS BEST OPERATE IT. AN INDEPENDANT OF 27 YEARS.

    2. God bless you that you enjoy what you do! Many of us do. However, I think you miss the point,we are not wanting the government to solve anything for us...that IS the point. I am a lady driver with rougly 40 years driving truck, clean record. I do not need, want or require my hand held by some machine nor the government. In my estimation, the government has enough regs on us now, and we do not need anymore...just because you have no issue with using an eobr that tracks your every move...doesn't mean that the rest of us would not have a problem with them. Also, FYI, it is confirmed that some companies are now using 'driver' cams directed at the driver while he drives. And carriers are citing wanting to know where their trucks and drivers are and what they are doing ALL of the time even off time. It is no stretch of the imagination that 'driver' cams will be next and no more of a stretch to imagine that soon they will be in the bunk too. Furthermore, there is some question of the EOBRs being allowed to monitor voice too of the driver. I wonder how those of you who support mandatory EOBRs for all of us now will like that. Just sayin'

  8. Here Here Mike & Joseph!! First I am a female flat bedder, second I have only been a OTR'r for 7 going on 8 years, a Owner- op for the last 5&1/2. So no I do not have 20 + years trucking freight over the road. But I will tell you that in the last almost 8 years I have seen enough changes in regulations to know I am not long for this trade. In April I will have had my CDL & been driving for 8 year, no accidents, no cargo damages, when I sigh (Lease) my truck on they check my DMV & Dat reports and tell me that it is so clean it squeaks! I regularly get comments from the brokers I deal with that they wish more of their drivers would act as professionally as I do, taking the time to keep in contact with them & the customers we BOTH are working for!! I run a business & I have ethics & morals like many many of the O/O & company drivers out here that I have crossed paths with & discussed the business with! It really sickens me for us being judged by a few bad apples! My name is NOT revenue to each state I drive thru! I am not the Medical professions new Money pit! I am not the EPA's nor CARB's new Guinea pig !! I am a normal Wife & Gramma of 5, earning my own money, keeping my bills & TAXES Paid & living the life I want. I pay $$ for every mile I drive in every state I drive, and I avoid toll roads like the plague! Double taxation on truck drivers is common out here and now they want to take existing interstates and make them tolled interstates?? We have already paid their taxes & they wasted the $$ on something it wasn't collected for & NOW they want me to pay double?? They want to put a little black box on my truck so they can micro manage my time (treat me like I am guilty after almost 8 years of consistent proof that I am a safe owner op??) & driving skills?? I am not a 3 yr old, I am 51 and a surviving business! Oh but being 51 & in menopause makes me a threat to being a unsafe driver with fatigue issues and sleeping problems!! Come off it people not even Air Traffic controllers are so Regulated or micro managed!!!! Every Driver out here has had their life threatened by a careless act of a 4wheeler in a hurry with no regard for their life let alone for our life or lively hoods!!We all have been expected to give our work time away for free, ie: detention time, loading & unloading delays that we HAVE called ahead and informed them we where on our way and a eta. People out here think we are rolling in the dough because we own & operate $150,000.00 + equipment. We have paid the price of a home for our equipment & its costs BIG money to maintain that equipment!! I would love to see a car owner pay $10,000.00 for the tires on their vehicle!!! Pay over $200.00 for a oil change!! The general public, politicians, and 75% of the brokers, shippers, & receivers have NO clue what it costs both in cash & lives for us to do our jobs that not a one of them would have the food they eat, the clothes they wear, the equipment they use, the toys they & their children play with or the vehicles they drive without us!! Maybe it is time for us to get 2 weeks behind in our bills to make them understand they do need us and we ARE human beings!!! I also will gladly sign my name for I AM proud to be a professional Owner Operator Trucker! Michele O'Donnell

  9. The ATA as always HEADED BY SOME OF THE LARGEST TRANSPORTATION COMPANIES CEO'S....Might WANT to start listening to what drivers have to say. This past week in the Trucker's News...That the ATA's President says he's also behind the FMSCA requiring drivers to be tested for sleep apena. I wonder if anyone has asked the question...Does the organization. ..have monetary stake in with the CPAP and EOBR's manufacturers if these new regulations go into effect? Something here doesn't seem right. Has anyone ever asked this question, and gotten an answer?

    1. I am hearing rumors that some of the carriers are actually putting sleep labs in their main terminals...have heard this from several drivers at the same companies, so while I have not called the companies to verify, and knowing the companies mentioned, I am thinking that this is true. Where the deal I think is is two fold: First, the companies, even those who are self insured, are being told by insurance underwriters to get rid of us 'fluffy' people. Second, it is a verified fact that the medical review board of the FMCSA is comprised of many members who have monetary interests in medical device manufacturers. If you go in and read the minutes from their meetings, you will find that the testifiers are strongly representing those same medical device manufacturers. You will also find blatant disregard of studies and research, the board routinely changes the facts they hear, if no studies are there easily found to support what they want, they go to other countries with totally different types of trucking than here to find them, and finally, the mrbs routinely totally disregards the facts and makes their recommendations anyways. There is the money trails and the problems. Sandy Long

  10. A decent ltl freight is hard to come by these days


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