Hours of Service and the ELD
Drivers have been limited by law to working a maximum of 14 hours per day and allowed ONLY 11 of those hours to be driving. Now this includes countless hours being stuck in traffic due to accidents, construction or even just normal heavy traffic. And this does not include the millions of hours that are “stolen” from drivers’ everyday while sitting at loading docks waiting to get loaded or unloaded.
The 14 hours allowed include these hours as well. Keep in mind, drivers are paid by the mile. So, if the truck is not moving generally the driver is working for free. The 14-hour clock cannot be stopped for any reason unless you take an 8-hour sleeper birth break at some point. It does not stop for you to eat a meal, to take care of personal needs such as bathroom breaks, traffic delays due to construction, accidents, long delays at shippers and receivers, nor is there any allowance to just take a break for a couple hours to take a nap or get some needed time out of the truck.
Parking and the ELD
The American Transportation Research Institute says,
The ongoing and increasing national shortage of available truck parking can create dangerous situations for vehicle operators, forcing them to drive in search of a location to park their rig. As a result, the spot they choose may be in an undesignated and/or unsafe area, and that can spell trouble for the trucker.
Case in point: The driving force behind the Federal Highway Administration’s report, “Jason’s Law Truck Parking Survey Results and Comparative Analysis,” was the murder of a trucker in a location that was thought to be safe.
One of the more obvious solutions to this dilemma is the investment in new parking facilities.
The ELD Mandate
The Electronic Logging Device (ELD) is mandated to be installed in nearly every truck in the United States that is involved in commerce and/or crosses any state border, also known as interstate commerce.
An ELD is a device that is connected to a vehicles Engine Control Module or ECM (the computer that is responsible for monitoring and controlling certain engine parameters) and at the same time is connected to the internet either by cellular or satellite connection or both.
The ELD monitors and reports functions of the vehicle such as speed, distance traveled, critical events such as hard braking, and evasive maneuvers, and Hours of Service records. (HOS) As well as tracks the location of the driver and truck 24 hours per day.
The Driver Training Problems
Student truckers are seen as a for-profit industry, one that is not held accountable to public safety. Profit motive drives the many steps involved in training – from recruitment to loan approval. The federal government, through its MAP-21 and other programs, provides funds to train truck drivers. Yet, hundreds of men and women each year sign on to become truck drivers and fill critical truck driver shortages, and most of them are gone the following year.
The lack of standards in training allow Commercial Driver’s License mills to exploit people. Anyone who receives a grant or loan is considered qualified to operate a tractor trailer. It’s about money, not about training qualified people to become qualified truck drivers.
Carriers often push their drivers to become trainers to make more money. But they also push bad students to pull real freight, which is a danger to everyone. Some students who have had a number of mishaps because of their poor training go off driving solo with their bad skills.
Cybersecurity and the ELD
The National Motor Freight Traffic Assn. has identified some concerns regarding the implementation of the ELD mandate. Contrary to some reporting in news media, the current ELD rule, as written and implemented, requires both two-way CAN bus connectivity and internet connectivity. This creates some genuine concern regarding the cyber security posture of the ELD devices themselves as they create a bridge between the internet and the CAN bus network of the vehicle. If the ELD devices could be exploited to send malicious traffic to the vehicle CAN bus, it could have serious consequences to the safe operation of the vehicle.