South Dakota truckers rally against ELD mandate

By  | 

Washington (GRAY DC) -- Truck drivers worry a new restriction could slam the brakes on their livelihoods. Drivers like Kevin Steichen are still hoping to convince lawmakers in Washington to reconsider.

“If trucks stop, this country comes to a screeching halt,” said Steichen a single owner-operator driver hauling honeybees.

He says the wheel of government moved too quickly with its new regulations on he and his fellow truckers. The Department of Transportation now requires electronic log devices (ELD’s) to log driver hours. That drove Steichen to push back.

“We don’t have time for political process when it comes to this because there are people quitting, retiring,” said Steichen.

He says once they clock in, they can’t clock out. He says truckers could choose not to take a break if they get tired during their 14-hour shift for fear of losing hours. Steichen says the requirement has already created sticky situations for him.

“They restrict us to certain time frames which makes us drive harder, faster, more aggressive in traffic,” said Steichen.

These drivers say the electronic time clock limits their ability to make their own schedule one of the job’s perks. But, safety advocates in Washington say the mandate saves lives.

“Truck driver fatigue remains a serious public safety issue,” said Peter Kurdock from Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

Kurdock says too many truckers fudge driving hours to stay on the road longer. He dismisses concerns about losing flexibility in scheduling saying a strict mandate keeps everyone accountable, and safe.

“Their paper log books were often referred to colloquially as comic books. So this is really easier for the truck drivers and giving law enforcement a much more objective record,” said Kurdock.

The truckers say they plan to stay in Washington all week, before getting back on the road.