Truck drivers are planning a "slow ride" protest Thurs. afternoon, Feb. 21 in Indianapolis to highlight problems they say have been brought on by the electronic logging device, or ELD, mandate.
Organizers of the protest have alerted police of what they intend to do. The plan is to circle I-465, the approximately 50-mile beltway that loops around Indianapolis and connects to I-65, I-69, I-70, and I-74.
The trucks will keep it at a slow 45-50 mph on the highway to draw attention and raise awareness of the ELD-related problems they cite. Since ELDs were required for most commercial truck drivers in Dec. 2017 and moved to full enforcement last year, many truck drivers have said they create difficulties.
Indiana State Police Sgt. John Perrine, public information officer for Indianapolis District 52, acknowledged the protest but said troopers would be watching to see that truckers—however many may participate—keep it safe.
"We were made aware of this event," he told American Trucker. "One of the organizers contacted our Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division. We were told they will not utilize the left lane and will allow enough room between trucks for other traffic to safely merge.
"We will be monitoring the event," he said.
As the ELD mandate went into full enforcement, American Trucker heard from drivers across the country on complaints or problems they had with the devices. Most frequently, drivers said they needed more flexibility and were forced to operate unsafely in a "race against the clock" in many situations as ELDs logged their hours.
They complained of the 14-hour on-duty time limit after they start their day or 11 hours of total drive time within those 14 that they can drive under the federal Hours of Service (HOS) regulations. Others said the 30-minute rest break requirement is impractical.
Many wanted to be able to split their sleeper berth time and take smaller breaks when they need to rest or help avoid traffic and be able to pause that 14-hour clock. Delays such as those that can happen on their routes in weather, backups and other problems or detained waiting to load/ unload at shippers and receivers count against their available drive time, drivers told American Trucker.
The Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) responded in part by trying to allow more flexibility in the HOS rules. For example, FMCSA clarified last year that if a carrier allows personal conveyance and the driver is detained at a shipper and then told they can't park on the property but is out of available drive time, the driver can operate the vehicle—whether loaded or unloaded—to the nearest safe parking place legally under personal conveyance drive status.
FMCSA also conducted multiple listening sessions last year on HOS issues and has proposed making changes to many of these requirements drivers most frequently say are a problem.
Even so, many truckers, often small carriers and owner-operators, have continued to say it hasn't been enough and ELDs have caused a detriment to their business. Others, meanwhile, have embraced ELDs and say they have a number of benefits, including that they can build out fleet and truck management functionality and business tools beyond logbooks.
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