New rules for truck drivers could improve safety

Local News

ERIE, Pa. — A new regulation could change some commercial drivers’ road behavior and the way they operate. 

Some truck drivers who work more hours than allowed potentially puts themselves and others at risk; but Maria Dellapina of Columbus, Ohio feels comfortable sharing the road.

“I think most of them are pretty safe drivers,” she said. “I’ve driven all over the country, and I’ve had very little issues.”

Guidelines from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration went into effect Monday that mandate the use of electronic logging devices (ELDs) in most semis.

Team Hardinger, an Erie-based trucking company, said ELDs record location, speed and hours worked.  

“Prior to when they were mandated, the paper logs which are an old grid system that the drivers could put in their own gridding was falsified by some drivers out there,” said Team Hardinger safety manager Doug Ladds.

He said the company was ahead of regulations when it installed the devices six years ago.

“We are able to manage our drivers and our systems in that training part very well and very effectively, and it has reduced any of the violations in our CSA  scores since 2011.”

Drivers are permitted to be on-duty 14 hours a day. That involves a maximum of 11 hours of driving and time for inspections, refueling, and loading and unloading.

One commercial driver, who like the measures’ ability to improve safety, said the regulations create schedule conflicts, especially if not everyone is on the same page.

“Our schedules are not set by the drivers or the companies. It’s set by the receivers and the shippers,” said Joe Garrett of Columbus, Ohio.

Truck drivers will be forced to spend less time on the roads with the enforcement of existing rules about labor hours. H. Bender, owner and president of Team Hardinger, said the consequence could be less capacity and possibly higher costs for the consumer.

“The impact to the shipper and the general public will be an estimated five to 10 percent spot rate increase,” he said.

But Bender believes that the benefits outweigh any inconveniences.

“We know it’s been a positive impact for us, and we hope that to be the case, really, for the general public across the country.”

The mandate went into effect Monday. 

Inspectors can now issue citations at their discretion. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance will not issue out-of-services orders, which would stop non-compliant drivers and their trucks from operating, until April 1, 2018.

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