DML News received an email Wednesday from a reader that we feel is absolutely worth sharing, as it highlights the harsh government regulations affecting the trucking industry in America.

We have not spoken to and have no affiliation with the person who sent the letter to us, but we found it interesting and worthy of posting publicly.

Shellie Cooper, of Cooper Trucking in Winimac, Indiana, writes, “I am attaching a letter I have written and I will be sending this daily to the President and my congressional leadership. I would appreciate it if you would read it and maybe do your own research into this. If you don’t mind maybe post it on Facebook so I can try to get some support for all of us in the trucking industry.”

Thank you, Shellie, for your submission.  Here is your letter!

An Open letter to Anyone who will listen-

I would like to challenge you to find ANY paper in the United States that doesn’t have a trucking job listed in the classifieds. The trucking industry is already starving for help and now the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is tightening their hands around the industries’ throat to choke out the little companies and make way for “Big Business.”

The implementation of the electric logging device (ELD) in correlation with the active hours of service is essentially a noose.  It is very clear that the person or people pushing for this law sit behind a desk and do not have a clue about how the trucking industry operates. It makes one wonder if there shouldn’t be a special investigation launched into the FMCSA for possible RICO violations because the new rules only make sense if you are one of the big companies with deep pockets and friends in the right places.

In theory you can do the math all day long and make it work on a piece of paper but when you try to apply that theory to the real situation, the formula doesn’t work.  According to leaders in the trucking industry, they need to hire 900,000 more drivers to meet todays demands.

What do you think that number is going to climb to when 40% of all the small owner-operator companies go out of business and those drivers find other industries to work in? How much would your paycheck be affected if we took one day’s pay per week out of your wages because that is essentially what the time structure combined with the ELD has done to small company owner-operators.

Most owner-operators can not afford that financial loss. Only the deep pockets of big companies benefit from the small owner-operators being driven out of business. The system was flawed and there was not enough research and testing done across the industry to include all demographics.

This has been the case since the implementation of the Safety Measurement System. It is geared toward large companies and discriminates against smaller companies, and most of those number compiled by the safety measurement system to create CSA scores were used to justify the need for the ELD.

Those large companies have some of the highest turnover rates and accident rates in the country. The smaller companies are comprised of mostly owner-operators who have been driving for many years, a lot of them accident free.

The entire basis for the ELD is to make the roads safer for all motorists. I am confused on how that is going to happen. The old paper logging system is an honesty based system where a driver wrote down his times and stops. The new system is a computer that tracks every movement and every minute of the day.

With the paper logging system, a driver knew he could shuffle things around to accommodate for traffic, weather, breakdowns, and accidents. If he was tired and needed to stop for a nap, he could, and show that time together with his off-duty break. He could stop and wait for traffic to clear instead of putting himself in a high-risk traffic situation and adjust his log book accordingly.  

The ELD logging system tracks every minute and every movement of the day and does not accommodate for driver fatigue, high stress situations, traffic or any other thing that may impact the driver. They are on the clock and must run non-stop while the clock is ticking. They must insert themselves into the middle of bumper to bumper traffic to try and make the most of the time they have.

As their week progresses and their start and stop times must shift they must change their sleep patterns on a daily basis and run tired and exhausted just to try to make a paycheck to cover the expenses of moving the truck. They have hope there is something left after that to try and feed their families. The ELD needs to incorporate more options for drivers to adjust, the time structure needs to change so drivers can be as safe as possible while still being accountable. 

I suggest making the off-duty period a time frame the must have at least one 6hr continuous break and then must have a total of an additional 4 hours within a 24-hour time period to accommodate the 10 hours off duty period. This will give drivers some flexibility to accommodate the troubles and traffic that they run into thru out the day.

I realize this will require software changes to all the programs out there, but I think most drivers would agree it is needed if the government is going to insist on using ELDs. The best option Is to do away with them and let the drivers do what works best for each individual driver. The way the system is set up now we might as well take the control of the trucking industry away from the FMCSA and give it to any branch of the military because our drivers are being told when to sleep, when to eat, when to run, when to stop and how to feel.

They have all basically become enlisted people with no government benefits thrown in, so they still must pay for the outrageous Obamacare ordered insurance. All they have accomplished is making the highways a lot less safe!

Trucker’s in this country stood behind Trump because was going to do away with ridiculous regulations and now there are thousands of hard working men and women who are going to lose everything because of those regulations.

Sincerely struggling to make this work,

Shellie Cooper

Cooper Trucking

Winamac, IN.