Truck drivers detest a new law that forces them to take a 10-hour break — and they’re getting support from an unlikely source

  • The electronic-logging-device mandate has attracted ire from truck drivers since it went into effect in December.
  • The hours-of-service law is what underpins the ELD mandate.
  • The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is considering changes to HOS laws that would remove some of the most disliked portions.
  • In a rare moment of agreement, both truck drivers and industry leaders told Business Insider they supported the changes.

When the electronic-logging-device mandate came into effect last December, longtime truckers like Bill Smith, who has been driving for 53 years, were vexed.

By requiring all drivers to have a digital tracker in their trucks, the ELD mandate enforces the hours-of-service law, which limits truckers to driving 11 hours in a 14-hour window, followed by a 10-hour break. It also requires truck drivers to take a 30-minute break during their workday.

The HOS law ensures truck drivers don’t work more than 70 hours in eight days. While it’s intended to increase safety, many truckers say it has only complicated their lives.

“No doubt the architects of this mandate thought they were doing the right thing,” Smith told Business Insider. “But in practice, it is a disaster.”

Read more: What is the ELD mandate? 7 things to know about the trucking law

But truck drivers like Smith are poised to benefit from proposed changes to the HOS law. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is considering addressing two particularly disliked portions.

One is eliminating the 30-minute break. The second would allow truck drivers who have a sleeper cabin to split up their 10-hour break.

While the proposed changes wouldn’t alter the ELD mandate, they would overhaul the HOS law it enforces – and ultimately give drivers more control over their work and sleep schedules.

Raymond Martinez, the FMSCA administrator, recently said the reforms were on “a fast track.” He opened the proposed changes up to public comment in August and September and received more than 5,000 comments from truck drivers, many addressing the issues they said the 14-hour workday gave them.

Why the ELD mandate is unpopular

Dozens of drivers have told Business Insider that the law has hampered their ability to work normally and make a living.

One key reason the mandate has frustrated them is that it doesn’t take into account that drivers, who are paid per mile, often have to spend hours at warehouses waiting for shipments to be loaded or unloaded, losing precious time because they must fit all their driving into the 14-hour period.

A study by KeepTruckin, an ELD-management company based in San Francisco, found that 75% of drivers said they got stuck at warehouses for longer than two hours at least once a week. More than a third said they might be detained at a warehouse for more than six hours at least once a week.

Read more: Truck drivers say the latest measure to keep roads safe has left them ‘chained up,’ ‘more reckless than ever,’ and unable to support their families

Those detainments stress out drivers, who are losing money, and might make the roads less safe for everyone – after lengthy detentions, drivers drive an average of 3.5 mph faster, the KeepTruckin study found.

The law also enforces a 10-hour block for rest, hurting drivers who are used to designing their own sleep schedules that accommodate for waiting at warehouses or parking spots, or for other conditions outside their control.

It’s a rare point of agreement among truck drivers and industry leaders

Typically, the industry viewpoints of the American Trucking Associations, which represents the country’s largest trucking companies, are in conflict with those of organisations like the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, which represents independent truck drivers.

But both truckers and trucking company owners favour HOS reform. The OOIDA and submitted the reform proposals that the federal agency is considering. Meanwhile, Chris Spear, the CEO and president of the ATA, has expressed support for a bill that would hasten the changes.

“By loosening regulations, the industry will not only operate more productively but will reduce crashes and congestion on the roads,” Jeremy Reymer, the CEO and founder of DriverReach, a trucking recruitment software company based in Indianapolis, told Business Insider.

“To me, allowing a little bit more operating time now that we’re very stringently controlling that operating time is a logical path,” Andrew Lynch, the cofounder and president of Zipline Logistics, a supply-chain company based in Columbus, Ohio, told Business Insider.

Truck drivers told Business Insider that they agreed these reforms could help them.

“The changes will allow the driver to extend their days,” Jason Poat, who owns a small trucking fleet in Wingo, Kentucky, and runs a YouTube channel called The Truckers Coach, previously told Business Insider. “It will get better if those rule changes go into effect.”

Poat added: “A lot of drivers say they’re against ELDs, but I think they’re more against the HOS law than the ELDs themselves.”

“Limiting a driver to 11 hours per day and 70 hours per week is fine,” Larry Golbom, a truck driver based in Lakeland, Florida, told Business Insider, “but to dictate when they can sleep is ludicrous.”

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