HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Truck drivers across the country are shutting down this week. They are protesting a new Federal law which forces them to electronically log their driving hours.
Many big rig drivers spent Tuesday in Washington DC trying to convince lawmakers that electronic logging devices, also called ELD’s, are bad for business.
8News spoke with Athanasios Kotsironis who has been driving a tractor-trailer truck for 20 years. By law, he will now be required to log his hours behind the wheel on paper.
“In the logbooks, you can cheat,” Kotsironis said. “That’s the truth, that’s the truth and this has been going on for years. Everybody knows it.”
By cheating, Kotsironis and his fellow drivers gain flexibility. They can fudge the time of day that they’re on the road. If they feel sleepy, they can take a nap, then pick back up where they left off.
“If I feel like taking a nap, I take a nap,” he said. “If I feel like driving, I drive. We’re people. We’re not machines.”
Beginning in December, a Federal mandate will force truck drivers to use electronic logging devices.
The equipment is tied to the truck’s engine. Once it starts, the clock starts ticking. If a driver takes a lengthy break, they lose those hours on the road.
Albertus Wittmus is also opposed to the rule change.
“I feel it takes away the freedom of choice for us drivers to run our businesses the way we see fit,” Albertus Wittmus said.
ELD’s are supposed to make the roads safer by preventing drivers from spending too many hours behind the wheel. But these owner-operators argue it will cost everyone in the long haul.
“Essentially, in the long run, you will lose money because that five-hour nap and that log cutting you short may hinder you from picking up your next load on time down the road,” Wittmus said.
If drivers cannot pick up their loads on time, their productivity drops.
That means the lettuce from Florida might take an extra couple of days to get to Missouri, which could, in turn, jack up prices for consumers.
Truckers who oppose the law will be protesting in Washington DC all week, hoping to convince Congress to reevaluate and delay the implementation of ELDs.