It wasn’t all too long ago that among the persona non grata eschewed by the beltway glitterati were truckers (drivers) and their dirty, smelly big intimidating and dangerous trucks. Ask the EPA, DOT SEC, IRA, FMCSA or any other agency concerned with U.S. commerce, trucks hauling freight on their roads was a necessary evil, to be tolerated, but only after reigning in their social and environmental transgressions with comprehensive regulation.
It wasn’t so long ago that trucking came to dominate the freight industry in the latter portion of the 20th Century -- achieving national attention during the ‘60s and ‘70s. Remember the CB craze? Thank a trucker. Remember when the charts were topped with songs and movies about truckers? Anybody remember the song and movie Convoy? How about Sally Field and Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit? That truck based Hollywood vehicle drove everyone to the movies. Trucking was American, trucking was sexy, drivers’ were the warriors and at times, heroes of the road.
Popular culture complimented the industry but it wasn’t all Coors east...more
Two months since the inception of the ELD mandate and already legislators are looking to change settled law. Ah well, nothing new in the land of (to paraphrase the house minority leader) “you’ve got to pass it before you can know what’s in it” lawmaking – or something to that effect. Recent headlines focus on the relief being sought by congress people for two groups within trucking suffering some indigestion from ELD implementation: livestock haulers and owner-operators.
It’s Been Churning for a Long Time
It’s not like proponents and opponents of current law didn’t have enough time to sort it out before now. An analyst for GPSTrackit offers its web viewers a quick trip down memory lane citing that by the mid-1980s, motor carriers had begun implementing relatively functional ELDs (AOBRDS) to record HoS for drivers. However this was early in the devices technical development and downloading data was challenging because of telemetry issues transmitting data among others.
Then came the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) which lobbied the...more
At just a little over a month out from the April 1, 2018 start of the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate and the sense out there on the trucking industry’s prairie seems to be that of an unsettled peace, as the various players turn inward to try and figure out how to satisfy the “man,” live the American dream and keep just a little more pay in their pockets in the face of ELD-era regulation.
To truck owners and fleet operators America’s roads are analogous to the fields of opportunity that John Steinbeck used as the setting for his characters in his iconic novella Of Mice and Men. The title is taken from Robert Burns' poem "To a Mouse", and offers this Shakespeare-worthy word of caution regarding the human condition: "The best laid schemes o' mice an' men / Gang aft agley." (For non-18th century Scotts: “The best laid schemes of mice and men / Often go awry.”)
To the federal government, ELDs are indeed a “best-laid” scheme. By design. What’s not to LOVE? Awesome application of trouble-free modern (relatively) cheap technology, no paper records, unambiguous HOS...more
A new energy is going to be required to recruit and retain truck drivers and the industry is agitating for some fresh ideas to get more “butts” in the driver’s seat of America’s trucks. American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) statistics projected in 2015 that it would take hiring almost a million drivers over the coming decade just to maintain the existing labor force.
Although officially known as the “Driver Shortage” the issue has been a chronic PITA for the industry for decades. The sources of this malaise are as numerous as they are challenging to overcome, but for the most part, stem from the rapidly aging demographics of the current population of drivers who are leaving the industry, and the inability of said industry to attract and retain new drivers and bring them into the profession at a rate faster than attrition.
Demographically one of the largest groups to offer a potential pool of new talent are people from 18 to 25 years of age; a truck driver has to be 21 to obtain a CDL for interstate commerce, which naturally prevents those younger than 21...more