Trucking company owners, drivers protest mandated Electronic Logging Devices

HOLLYWOOD, Ala. -- Trucking company owners and drivers got together in Jackson County Monday morning to protest congressionally mandated Electronic Logging Devices,  set to go into effect in a few days.

Darrell and Audrey Wright own a trucking company based out of Hollywood in Jackson County. "It's really small, it's only three trucks," Audrey Wright said.

Like many other companies and drivers across the nation, they're directly impacted by a government imposed mandate that says Electronic Logging Devices, or ELDs, need to be used by commercial drivers who are required to prepare hours-of-service records of duty status. "It tracks you from the time you start work to the time you stop during the day," Darrell Wright explained. Along with several others, they staged an event Monday morning to protest the mandate. It's part of a nation-wide effort to raise awareness for the mandate and their concerns.

Courtesy: Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

The devices sync with a vehicle engine to automatically record data like driving time, location information, and miles. Information from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says the devices are meant to help create a safer work environment for drivers and make it easier and faster to accurately track, manage, and share records of duty status data.

The Wrights and other drivers say they have many concerns about the devices. Drivers can only work a certain number of hours a day, and the Wrights say the previous method of logging data was flexible with the inevitable traffic delays. They say the new device is not because of its continued monitoring. "It causes drivers to be more dangerous because they're losing their driving time on these ELDs, and it's causing them to cut other drivers off, speed through school zones."

Another concern is the cost to the business.  "On paper logs, it costs eight dollars per truck per month to operate a truck on logs right now. It's going to cost us an estimated 30 to 50 dollars extra per month per truck to operate on these things."

The drivers at the protest Monday say they feel the ELDs are hindering their day-to-day jobs. "Ask us our opinion. These people who are sitting in the office mandating this, they're not in the trucks," Audrey Wright said.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration says motor carriers and drivers subject to the ELD rule must start using ELDs by December 18 unless they are using a grandfathered Automatic Onboard Recording Device. The ELD mandate was phased in over the last two years.