New time-logging technology aims to keep exhausted truck drivers off the road

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – In less than two weeks, a new item will be installed in a majority of truck drivers' cabs.

It's designed to make the roads safer by ensuring truckers are following driving rules and regulations, but some drivers say the new system is flawed.

“Literally, all of our trucks are equipped with these, and it gives them everything from communication and all of their hours of service, everything,” said Phil Wilt, president of American Central Transport.

Wilt said his company has been using Electronic Logging Devices for the last six years and admits it took some adjustment time for his drivers to transition from the paper logs to the electronic logs.

“It's really about fatigue management," he said. "It's really about making the roads safer, and I think it's really about accountability, making sure everyone out there is running off of the hours that are available, the hours of service have not changed."

Wilt said truck drivers work a 14-hour day, and 11 of those hours are designated for drive time. The ELD system would ensure that drivers like Patrick Buckner, a trucker with more than 30 years of experience, are not keeping themselves on the road past the point of exhaustion.

“Best thing about it is it keeps me safe, and it keeps a lot of drivers with my company safe, and it keeps drivers of the world safe,” Buckner said. “You've got a start period, and you got an end period.”

But for drivers like Tyron Smith Sr., they feel the ELD system is flawed.

“I don't like them. Basically it was designed to tell the driver when he can and can't drive his truck and basically how much money you're not going to make,” Smith said. “You go somewhere to pick up a load; you sit in the dock for almost two to three hours. Boom. That's eaten up your time. By the time you get loaded and try to go somewhere, you're about down to only six hours for the rest of the day to drive.”

But at its core, those in favor of the system feel these growing pains are for the greater good.

“It's about making the roads safer and making sure the motoring public is getting home to their families,” Wilt said.

The Kansas Motor Carriers Association issued the following statement:

“The implementation date for Electronic Logging Devices is December 18, 2017. ELDs are simply a more modern and efficient way of recording a driver’s hours-of-service. The hours of service rules have not changed due to the ELD mandate. With the implementation of ELD’s the industry is hopeful that it will open up a conversation about hours-of-service to allow for more flexibility.”