Warning about cybersecurity concerns and the prospect of higher truck rates, a coalition of truck owner-operators and drivers opposed to the Dec. 18 electronic logging device mandate gathered in protest across the country.
According to organizers of the Dec. 4 protest, the coalition seeks to inform the public that the devices will cause unsafe situations because they force truck drivers to play “beat the clock” on highways across the nation. The protesters seek delay of the rule and more studies before it is adopted.
The issue has already attracted produce industry attention. Western Growers in early November sent a letter to the Department of Transportation requesting a minimum one-year delay in its scheduled mid-December Electronic Logging Device implementation date.
The focus Dec. 4 was to attract media attention and there was no organized work stoppage associated with the event.
“Our goal is to get the American public involved to (help them) figure out how it is going to affect them,” said Kevin Killeen, owner of Killeen Trucking, Buffalo, Mo.
He said truckers organized in 54 locations in 45 states for the protest, which has embraced the social media hashtag #eldorme.
Charles Clayburn, a trucker in Mississippi and one of the spokesmen for the “#ELDorme” event, said Dec. 7 that the multi-state event attracted good media coverage and appeared to unify drivers.
“All in all, it worked out and we got the message out,” he said. However, Clayburn said President Trump might have to sign an executive order to postpone the ELD compliance deadline.
The group seeks delay of the mandate, which is going into effect for most truckers Dec. 18. Haulers of agricultural commodities including produce were provided a 90-day waiver.
Beside rising truck rates, Killeen said he has worries about the security of the devices.
“Ninety-nine percent of these devices are bluetooth — they are not hardwired into a truck’s motor — and anybody with a smart phone, tablet, laptop will be able to hack into the truck’s ECM (electronically commutated motor),” he said. That could make the truck vulnerable to hijacking, he said.
Protesters also said the law enforcement community will attempt to enforce the mandate, even though current logging device rules and regulations are unclear and have errors, according to a news release. The release said errors range from interoperability standards to law enforcement technical preparedness, and that will leave prosecutors facing technical challenges.
“I own my truck and trailer and if I want to hook on to my camper and go to the lake, that is nobody’s business,” he said. “They are putting an ankle bracelet me just because I decided to drive a truck for a living, and that right there is unfair.”
Costs of data service run about $42 per truck per month or about $500 per truck per year, he said. What’s more, some parts of the country don’t have reliable cellular service, which some devices rely on.
“Honestly, what I would like to see is to have some studies done; the American Trucking Associations has come out and said (the mandate) would save 26 lives per year, but there nobody has offered any proof of any number,” Killeen said. “Show us the proof.”
Clayburn said he has heard talk of a shutdown by truckers on Dec. 18 if relief doesn’t come.
“Let’s hope level heads prevail, but (drivers) are hot and upset,” he said.