Truckers have descended on Washington this week to protest the Electronic Logging Device that they say is threatening their livelihoods.
The protest began on Monday, April 9th in Washington DC, where truckers have gathered to park their trucks and voice their opinions about the new regulations enforced by the Department of Transportation.
“If trucks stop, this country comes to a screeching halt,” said owner-operator Kevin Steichen, who is participating in the protest to protect his career hauling honeybees.
“They restrict us to certain time frames which makes us drive harder, faster, more aggressive in traffic,” Steichen said to KCRG News.
“We don’t have time for political process when it comes to this because there are people quitting, retiring,” he continued.
Other drivers feel similarly concerned about the effects of the ELD mandate, which went into full effect on April 1st.
“You literally have a clock that’s in your face counting down your hours that you’re allowed to operate for your work day. It just pushes you to the most extreme limits,” said truck driver Steven Rehm to WCPO News.
“It’s going to make them [truck drivers] more dangerous because they have the clock staring right at them. You only get paid when these tires are turning. Across the board it’s going to be detrimental,” Rehm continued, explaining how the cost of the devices, along with the potential for working hours lost to traffic or other unforeseen circumstances, could put small trucking companies and owner operators out of business.
Still, officials insist that the ELD mandate will increase safety by ensuring truckers cannot alter their hours as was once possible with the use of paper log books.
“Truck driver fatigue remains a serious public safety issue,” said Advocates for Highway Safety representative Peter Kurdock.
“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,” Kurdock said.
The protest is scheduled to last through the end of the week.