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NTTC throws its support behind electronic driver logs

June 1, 2011
After making electronic logging devices (ELDs) the focus of two different sessions, the National Tank Truck Carriers members voted to support mandates

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A FTER making electronic logging devices (ELDs) the focus of two different sessions, the National Tank Truck Carriers members voted to support mandates for ELDs to document hours of service (HOS) compliance.

The NTTC had voted to support an ELD mandate during its summer membership meeting last July, but delayed a public announcement because of potential related developments in the HOS rule-making. The change of policy was reviewed during the NTTC Tank Truck Safety & Security Council annual seminar April 5-7 in Austin, Texas.

Steve Rush, NTTC chairman and CEO of Carbon Express, said the American Trucking Associations' professed support of the devices was “a big plus.”

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“The reason they did that is because they and all of us who have electronics logs have learned some important lessons,” he said. “It changes your business significantly. It forces you to know and understand your costs. And it treats your drivers better.

“This is big. ATA now says, ‘Yes, we are in support of electronic logs.’ It will give you so much credibility. You have no idea. I've talked to a few owners and they say, ‘I can't tell my customer I'm going to be late.’ Well, you'd better. What are you going to do if that driver kills somebody and goes to jail? How about if you, as owner, allowed it, and end up in jail? You ready for that?

“Beyond all of that, we all know the battle is on for these drivers. This device will absolutely help you recruit drivers, especially with CSA. It's the first time a driver has had somebody in cab with him saying, ‘Hey, buddy, I've got your back. That dispatcher is not going to tell you to keep going.’

“I encourage you to go back and stay in the ear of that owner and get these logs in the truck. If you are an owner-operator and say, ‘I'm not putting in EOBRs,’ what are you saying? ‘I'm running hot.’ Or, ‘I'm allowing you to run hot.’ If you think lawyers are not picking up on that, you're living in dream world.”

He said drivers love the technology because it reduces their paperwork. They can log in and out each day with the push of a button. He said dispatchers are having more of an adjustment problem than anyone else.

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“They really struggle with it because for the first time, they have to figure out what's going on in that driver's day,” he said. “I have one particular dispatcher who will pick up that mile maker, read it out, and say, ‘He has 500 miles and it's going to take him nine hours.’ Stop. Don't do that. That doesn't mean he's going to get there. Where's he going? Is he going around Houston, Texas, at rush hour? You have to look at the computer and see where he is. When he's going to be late, you have no alternative. You have to make that phone call. In the old days, it was, ‘Can you get there? Can you make it look right?’”

He said the use of the devices will require some careful attention to detail late in a shift for those drivers not using a sleeper. He said he has drivers who deliver in Luke, Maryland, a mountainous area near West Virginia, with no motels within 30 miles.

“You get to the delivery site and nine times out of 10, you're stuck there for six, seven, eight hours,” he said. “That's something we have to continue to drive home with the customer. It's something we have to do with the industry. You can't hold us up, because everything we're doing is accounted for.” ♦

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About the Author

Rick Weber | Associate Editor

Rick Weber has been an associate editor for Trailer/Body Builders since February 2000. A national award-winning sportswriter, he covered the Miami Dolphins for the Fort Myers News-Press following service with publications in California and Australia. He is a graduate of Penn State University.