Truckers say electronic logs won’t prevent road fatigue

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — A big change is just around the corner for KELOLAND truckers. Most commercial truckers must start using an electronic device in their vehicle that tracks the number of hours they work in a day.

The federal rule is designed to keep roads safe by ensuring truckers don’t get too road weary. But the technology is getting pushback from those within the industry who say it won’t necessarily make roads safer.

The new rule takes effect in mid-December, a busy time of year for truckers hauling big loads for the holidays. These electronic logging devices will no longer allow truckers to fudge on the number of hours a day they spend on the road. But truckers say it’s an electronic overreach that removes the all-important human element.

Brad Schipper has been in the trucking business for forty years.

“I used to like the independence and freedom. That’s gone now,” Schipper said.

Schipper blames the tyranny of technology for his loss of freedom of the road.

“As soon as you start the truck up, you’re on the clock,” Schipper said.

The electronic logging device is an on-board time clock that closely tracks a trucker’s work day. They can’t drive longer than 8-hours at one time without taking a break. And they can’t log more than 11 hours on the road each day. The clock is ticking even during down times.

“If you’re driving, you don’t drink very much because you don’t want to stop for a bathroom break,” Schipper said.

The goal behind the electronic logging devices is to prevent drivers from becoming fatigued while they’re on the road. But some trucking companies say the technology is having just the opposite effect by creating more tired drivers.

“Without fault, every one of them says they’re driving more tired today than they ever used to. Because the clock tells them when to work and not their body,” K & J Trucking President Shelley Koch said.

Koch says the logging devices play havoc with truckers’ sleep cycles. But she says truckers are resilient and will adapt to the new technology, maintaining the highest safety standards while they’re behind the wheel.

Koch says a lot of older truckers quit the road with the switch from paper to electronic logs. It’s a loss in personnel that’s been tough on an industry that’s already struggling with hiring enough drivers.

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