Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Cheating on logs, not just for paper anymore

What does an eggshell “baby” have to do with cheating on electronic logs? A high school “adult living” project is just another example that technology is not failsafe.

The buzz over the weekend, and I’m sure that will continue in weeks to come, is the debate over the ability of electronic logs to prevent falsifying logs. Technology, those in favor of electronic logs say, will put an end to the cheating. Forgive me if you must, but it’s pretty na├»ve to think that way.

My daughter brought home my grand “egg baby” last week. It’s a low-cost high school project to show kids that parenting isn’t easy. Students hollow out, decorate and name an egg that they must carry around and care for in the following week or two.

We won’t talk about Princess Jones crushing her first “baby” during the decorating phase the very first day; the teacher gave her a free pass and another egg.

But I will move on to the family introductions and the ensuing quizzing of her obligations as an egg baby parent. The proof of her parenting does not end with presenting an intact egg baby at the end of the project. The students must take selfies with the egg at four-hour intervals over the course of the project.

Immediately, her older brothers pointed out that time stamps can be faked on both her phone and camera, and she should take a whole bunch at once.

“Make an afternoon of it.”

“Just change clothes.”

“Go in different rooms, go outside.”

The advice filled with methods of manipulating the “proof” of the project flew by. Fortunately, Princess Jones is above that and has been waking up for the 2 a.m. feeding and taking a selfie. (Those are a hoot. She does NOT look pleased.)

Point is, tech-savvy types won’t have a lot of trouble figuring out end-arounds for the newly mandated electronic logs. That aside, the devices require driver input. Drivers will have to tell the electronic logs what they are doing when the truck isn’t moving. They have to push a button that tells the device whether they are working.

As far as the devices being “unhackable” I route those bold statements to the makers of Jeep.

I am in no way advocating running illegally. I’m saying it’s downright foolish to believe that technology will absolutely prevent the possibility of it. Sure there will be those who have previously cheated who can’t figure out a new way. But I’d bet my bottom dollar on the fact that there are and will be plenty of ways for those hell-bent on cheating to do just that.

You can only legislate to the lowest common denominator of those who choose to break the law for so long. Laws are added to the books daily around this country trying to lift up the bottom dwellers into a life of compliance and law abidance. They won’t change. They either craft a better mousetrap to get around the laws or ignore them altogether. Law-abiding, honest people get saddled with the cost and loss of freedoms along the way.

Choosing to use technology to make your own life easier is one thing. It’s the overreaching of government, adding mandate and cost after mandate after cost that is going too far.

The electronic log mandate will have to withstand another court challenge. Beyond the argument of harassment, there were issues like justifying the cost-benefit of the rule and (my personal favorite) protecting the Fourth Amendment right against unlawful searches to be considered that the court didn’t even get to in the last legal challenge.

All that remains to be seen. But, until that all shakes out, proponents need to get the idea out of their heads that electronic logs can’t be cheated with. That, my friends, is something any teenager and few minutes of poking around could figure out.


  1. It Is Time For Truckers To Assimilate And Band Together To Put A Stop To Having Our Freedoms And Constitutional Rights Taken Away. Yes, We Will Have To Make A Small Sacrifice In The Process Of Every Independent Trucker Shutting Down For Just 72 Hours, However We Truckers Will Gain That Back And Much More If This Is Implemented. Truckers Rule The Economy And Its Time We Fight Back And All Stand Up For What Is Right. Truckers Have The Power To Not Only Block Evil Trucking Rules And Laws, Rather We Can Stop Taxation, High Fuel Cost, Gun Control And Any Other Unethical Activity That Infringes Upon Our Constitutional Rights And Freedoms.
    When Trucks stop Moving, The Earth Stops Functioning. We Have The Power And They Know It. Nothing Good Will happen Unless We Unite And Stand Up Against The Unscrupulous Intentions Of Corrupt Governmental Activities.

  2. With the new mandate and more drivers using electronic logs it will soon become obvious that the objective has always been performance while compliance remains a matter of consequence. It will be interesting to see how supporting documents will be used to verify elog entries when the vehicle is stationary as opposed to the way they have been used to audit paper logs. I predict there will be no difference whatsoever.

  3. There would be a lot less cheating if they would give us flexibility
    in the hours of service.The way it is now our hands are tied

  4. Quit making sense driver, you'll NEVER get elected that way.

  5. Quit the silly talk about shutting down the highways. It isn't going to happen and, besides, the big carriers aren't going to shut down and so would be more than happy to take your business away from you. A better idea is to shut down Congress. That's right -- 200 or so trucks driven right into the center of D.C. and parked. Think there are major traffic jams now, just wait until you have several hundred trucks parked right in the middle of the street. And if that doesn't get anybody's attention, then bring another 200 or so trucks and park them in front of FMCSA headquarters, maybe even DOT, too. There aren't enough tow companies in D.C. to haul them all away. That ought to at least get the attention of those making the absurd rules.

    1. That'll never happen either - ya' can't 2 drivers to stick together for any reason, been that way for decades now !

  6. No "hacking" necessary. All the e-log systems we've reviewed allow the driver to alter the logs arbitrarily. While this could be detected on the dispatch side, it is not apparent when the devices are in "hand it to the cop" mode.

  7. There has been shutdown talk since the 70's oil embargo, when diesel went from $.25/ gal to $.75/ gal overnight. It didn't happen then and it won't now. I have E logs and have no problem with them. What I can't stand is the company micromanaging every minute. When you get an assignment the computer sends you a message telling you when you have to be there and how much time you will have left. Neither the computer nor the office staff have any clue what conditions you are dealing with. Best solution for efficiency is leave us alone and let the trucks run the way the engineers designed them to run, at least at the posted speed. The argument about fuel mileage is BS because I drove a triple digit truck in '86, and got the same mileage I get with this 63 mph truck!

  8. The problem with e-logs is duplicated (sort of) in self driving cars. The self-driving car, that cutting-edge creation that’s supposed to lead to a world without accidents, is achieving the exact opposite right now: The vehicles have racked up a crash rate double that of those with human drivers.

    The glitch?

    They obey the law all the time, as in, without exception. This may sound like the right way to program a robot to drive a car, but good luck trying to merge onto a chaotic, jam-packed highway with traffic flying along well above the speed limit. It tends not to work out well.

    The same issue arises with computer logs. Chosing to drive past your allowed hours to avoid a winter storm might be illegal but it makes more sense than shutting down and possibly getting involved in a crash.

    E-logs don't allow me to make sensible choices that could avoid lost time or bad weather. They don't allow me to use the 38 years of experience that has kept me safe and accident free.


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