Truckers say e-logs sometimes leave them stranded minutes from home

  • Truckers are paid based on mileage, but they are only allowed to drive 11 hours a day.
  • Electronic devices record the duration of their ride, but truckers say this may be too restrictive.
  • The limits could leave them stranded 30 minutes from home or stuck in a high-crime area, they say.

It wasn’t low pay, long hours or lack of benefits that drove Brian Pape to leave the trucking industry.

Instead, it was a small device that measured how many hours he drove each day and told him when to stop.

“That was it for me,” Pape told Insider. “I sold my gear and left.”

Truckers are allowed to work up to 14 hours a day, with a maximum of 11 hours of driving. They can’t do it all at once: after eight consecutive hours of driving, they have to take a 30-minute break.

These regulations have been in place for years, but in 2017 the DOT discontinued the use of paper logs written by truckers and instead mandated electronic recording devices, called E-Logs, that track when truckers drive and take breaks.

Truckers largely say they support hours of service regulations, but say electronic logs were sometimes too strict and left drivers stranded near home or a truck stop.

“If you’re 30 minutes away from home and you hit your 11 a.m., you have to shut down or you get an automatic hours of service violation,” Pape said. This results in a fine and could jeopardize the trucker’s license.

Indiana trucker Mark Rumps runs his Geotab E-Log ELD software on a Samsung tablet.

Indiana trucker Mark Rumps runs his Geotab E-Log software on a Samsung tablet.

Courtesy of Mark Rumps

Pape said that before the introduction of E-Logs, he sometimes exceeded the 11 hour limit by around an hour to reach a certain destination, but never “to a dangerous level”. Other truckers made similar comments to Insider.

Mark Rumps, an Indiana trucker who runs YouTube channel Trucking Answers, said some companies even deliberately avoid using E-Logs by buying and retrofitting trucks with engines made in 2000 or earlier because they are exempt from E-Logs.

Pape said just two weeks of using E-Logs convinced him to quit driving after about 13 years.

Other truckers left the industry due to low wages, long hours and mistreatment by trucking companies, which wreaked havoc throughout the supply chain.

Colorado trucker Brian Stauffer said E-Logs were one of the reasons he quit long-distance driving, likening them to “trying to force a round peg into a square hole.”

Stauffer said “infuriating” hours of service rules often don’t match drivers’ body clocks. He said there should be exceptions, like if the driver reached his 11 a.m. limit in a high-crime area and didn’t want to park there overnight.

Most truckers are paid based on mileage.

“Driving time equals miles on the road and miles equal dollars,” said Doug Watters, a Mississippi trucker who has been in the industry for nearly 30 years.

Stauffer said the hours of service policy “requires” truckers to drive even when tired and drive at high speeds to increase their mileage.

But truckers said that before E-Logs, some drivers cheated on their paper logbooks and drove recklessly anyway to maximize their mileage.

And Rumps said E-Logs holds trucking companies “accountable” and means they stop pushing drivers to take on more loads when they’ve reached their limit.

Dispatchers and trucking companies “now know they will be held liable if there is any evidence that they coerced or forced a driver to do anything out of the ordinary,” Watters added.

Truckers said e-logs were more convenient than paper logs, and Rumps said that ultimately they just reinforce policies that were already in place anyway.

“The same hours of service are in effect,” he said. “The drivers raped them all the time to get home.”

“If you don’t meet the hours of service, it’s because you’re not being paid properly,” Rumps added.

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