There is a lot in the news today about the driver shortage. There has been a lot of talk about driver shortages ever since I can remember. It just makes me wonder if it is a real shortage, or is it there are not enough drivers that want to work for low wages. There are a lot of owner-operators that will not haul cheap freight unless they need it to get home or to someplace to get a better paying load. I am sure there are a lot of drivers leaving the industry because of all the regulations. Some new regulations that have come about in the past few years don’t do anything but dehumanize the industry and it has been going on as far as I can remember.
CDL- ELD – Drivers Leaving
In 1986 the Commercial Drivers License Act became law. All drivers, at that time, had to have a CDL in order to keep driving. The Federal Highway Administration developed testing standards for licensing drivers. This all came about in the hopes of making drivers more aware of the rules governing their occupation, more aware of the mechanical aspects of their equipment and reduce accidents. Prior to 1986, each state had its own testing method for commercial drivers. This act was supposed to standardize the qualification and testing process, in all the states. To get the learners permit, just to qualify, so you can take the CDL test, you must:
1. Bring identification, proof of citizenship and proof of residency
2. Fill out and turn in your CDL application
3. Pass a written test
4. Practice with a supervising driver
5. Complete the required driver training
Many times I have wondered if all these drivers were completing these requirements?
Now we have the Electric Logging Devices going into effect. As of December 2017, all over the road trucks are mandated to have the devices installed, for recording driver hours of service. I feel with the passing of time drivers and companies will find a way to get around these new rules, just as they have with the CDL and just as they did after the paper log was mandated in 1938. The implementation of the CDL lead to fraud and abuse and that is what the ELD Mandate will do.
There is no one size fits all solution to the problems facing the trucking industry. There are many types of trucking, different shippers and receivers involved, different state regulations, different speed limits and many, many more variations in the industry. To think that everyone can live and work with one set schedule or one set of rules is absurd. A lot of drivers left the Trucking Industry when the CDL went into effect and a lot more will leave if the DOT tries to enforce this ELD Mandate.
Different Rules – Same Highways
I have a friend I have known for some time and we both worked for a major corporation for quite some time. Jerry, not his real name, started working a long time before I started driving there. In fact, he started about the time he graduated from high school in 1991. Started out helping load and unload trucks. He then moved his way up and started making local deliveries. He worked hard and studied to get his Commercial Drivers License, which he soon received and starting driving over the road trucks making deliveries in a four-state area.
Some the violations that could result in the immediate suspension of your CDL:
DWI offenses, including refusal to test for blood alcohol content
Leaving the scene of an accident
Use of a commercial vehicle to commit a felony
Vehicular manslaughter while operating a CMV
Driving a CMV without an invalid CDL (revoked, suspended, or disqualified)
Using a commercial vehicle to distribute a controlled substance These Could result in lifetime disqualification
Other violations that lead to suspension or revocation:
Erratic lane changing
Driving without your CDL
Unlawful use of a mobile phone while driving a CMV
I list these violations for several reasons, the greatest being, a regular Joe out sharing the highways with the big trucks is not held to the same standards. If he loses his drivers license he will not, in most cases lose his job – his livelihood – his way to create income.
In about 2012, Jerry and his wife spent an evening with some friends across town and yes adult beverages were consumed. They were going home that night and not more than 1/2 mile from their home, they were stopped for not having a working light above their license plate. How many of you have heard that one before? As you can imagine one thing led to another, but I will say Jerry was not belligerent and cooperated with the patrolman. He tried to explain to the officer that he was not very far from his home, but the cop was having none of it. Jerry was arrested and charged with DWI.
You know the outcome, Jerry lost his CDL and had it not been for his longevity with the company and some good supervisors at work he might have lost his job. He was allowed to stay with the company but had to take a different position making half the money. I know truck drivers have a lot of responsibilities and drive a lot of miles. Jerry was in his pick up and within walking distance of his home. After a lot of money and time, he finally got his CDL back – took him three years! In order to get it back, he had to start at ground zero taking the written and driving test all over again.
Another friend of mine, who worked with me also, was injured while helping to unload his trailer at a receiver. Jim had about fifteen years driving experience. He was helping unload when somehow a tall pallet of goods fell over pinning him against the trailer wall. He was banged up pretty bad with injuries to his right arm and shoulder. Of the different shoulder injuries, this was one of the worst.
At the time we thought he would be back to work shortly. One thing led to another. I think once the workers’ comp doctors get a hold of you, especially if you work for a large corporation, they are going to stretch things out as long as possible. The doctors sent Jim to all kinds of physical therapy and would not release him to go back to work. As a result of all the time, Jim’s CDL expired.
There didn’t seem to be any consideration given, that Jim needed his CDL to make a living and pay his bills. Jim is now on disability and working to get his CDL back, but once again he is starting a ground zero.
Not Much Has Changed
The implementation of the Commercial Drivers License Act in 1986 was supposed to cut down the number of large truck-related accidents.
From 2014 to 2015 truck accidents increase by eight percent
From 2013 to 2014 there was a decrease of four percent
From 2012 to 2013 truck accidents increased by three percent
From 2009 to 2015 overall there was a 20 percent increase in fatal crashes involving large trucks
The Semi Truck Accident Statistics are hard to pin down as far as exact numbers. Overall the CDL Act did nothing to decrease accidents if nothing else it accelerated the departure of seasoned, experienced drivers.
I have no doubt that the implementation of the ELD Mandate will do the same. Check out my blog at atruckerlifestyle.com/trucker-news-today-sensationlist-journalism for more of what I think on the subject of the ELD Mandate. No matter what the government, the unions, or large corporations think you cannot regulate human nature!
Making A Conclusion
Anyone that drives a truck is a different type person. They don’t want to be watched over as they do their jobs, they like their independence, are proud of their work, and like making decisions on their own. These are all things that the ELD Mandate will take away. Big brother will be watching. When we talk about a driver shortage, people need to remember the mass exodus of good drivers when the CDL went into effect. A truck driver automatically loses his license for a DWI and then takes three or four years to get it back. A trucker gets injured on the job and is still working to get his CDL back. These are all things that contribute to the Driver Shortage.