no elogs

TD77: Arguing E-logs

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Unless something unprecedented happens in the near future (my company changes a policy for the better), this should be the last in a long series about e-logs. Now I know that you’re probably already in the midst of doing a happy little jig about this wonderful news, but let me explain why this should be the last. I can do so in one sentence. Nearly every argument I make against e-logs is comparing it to the illegal ways I can manipulate paper log books.

I’ve had questions about electronic logs before I even got them. Check out Fear and loathing of electronic logs for my initial thoughts. Turns out, most of my fears were warranted. For example, let’s take a brief look at my first run that I took while sneering at my shiny new e-log unit.

Basically, I was pissed because I figured my time wrong (a rookie mistake) and therefore delivered my load late (details in E-logs: My first impression). If I’d have still been on paper logs, I undoubtedly would have taken off a bit earlier because I knew I could fudge the log book a little bit. But the unrelenting clock on the e-log system doesn’t allow that.

Now, would I be hurting anyone if I left an hour or two early so I could avoid being in a rush and possibly have a chance at delivering early? I don’t think so. I’d had plenty of sleep. I’d been off-duty way longer than my mandatory 10-hour break required. This all makes sense to a truck driver, but try arguing this point to the authorities and you’re talking to the wind. That’s because leaving early and marking your log book after you get somewhere is illegal.

Here’s another example. One of the things that most makes me want to hand my e-log unit to my youngest nephew (that kid can destroy anything with the slightest touch) happens when I’m trying to find a parking spot late at night (find a perfect scenario in E-logs: Do they really increase driving time?).

With e-logs you have to start looking for a parking spot earlier than most drivers would like because you have to be parked when the e-log clock clicks down to zero. That means I have to start looking for a place to park at about the 10-hour mark. But on paper logs, I can utilize more of my drive time by pulling into a truck stop when my 11 hours of driving is up. If I can’t find a spot there, I just show stopping there for the night and I drive on to the next available parking. If it took me another 30 minutes to find parking, I’d just leave 30 minutes later the next day. Again, this is illegal according to the folks who supposedly know what’s best for us truck drivers.

What about how e-logs keep on counting down your time when you’re in rush hour traffic? I really hate that because when I was on paper logs I could just show that I stopped at a truck stop to wait out rush hour. I mean, what’s the difference? Either I’m creeping along in rush hour or I’m sitting in a truck stop for an hour. But again, logging yourself at a truck stop while you’re sitting in traffic is illegal.

So there’s my point. I’m trying to convince everyone that e-logs suck because I can’t run illegal like I used to do. Regardless of the fact that these illegal acts don’t really hurt anyone. That’s really what it boils down to and ultimately why all arguments against e-logs will fail worse than a 98-pound sumo wrestler.

Now here’s another side of the coin. Sometimes I’ve wanted to prove a point about e-logs, but I can’t because doing so would backfire like Elmer Fudd’s shotgun when Bugs sticks his finger in the barrel. Usually it winds up being a case of “logging it as you do it.”

First up is how we drivers log at customers (shippers and receivers). Every company I’ve worked for has crammed the phrase “log it as you do it” down my throat. Yet without fail these same companies have told me to log 15 minutes of On-Duty time (mandatory by most carriers) as soon as I get there or just before I leave. Why then? Because not doing so could totally screw up a 10-hour break and make me as inefficient as scraping your windshield with a nickel. Let me explain.

Say I pull into a receiver at 2 AM and I log myself in the Sleeper Berth. My appointment is at 8 AM. So if I’m “logging it as I do it” I should put myself on the On-Duty line for 15 minutes at 8 AM while I check in to the office and back into the dock. Then I’d put myself back in the bunk. But that would interrupt the “continuous” 10-hour break that the law requires. That means I’d have to start my break over again. So by “logging it as I’m doing it” I’d have to be shut down for 16 hours instead of 10; that’s 6 hours before I checked in and 10 hours after.

The company doesn’t want this and neither does any trucker. So in this case, I don’t want to go in and call the company’s scruples into question by saying, “Hey, Mr. By-The-Book! How come I have to log it as Driving while sitting in a traffic jam, but I don’t have to log it as On-Duty when I bump a dock in the middle of my 10-hour break?” Talk about shooting myself in the foot with an elephant gun! What if they thought about it real hard and decided I was right? Which policy do you think they’d change? Yea. That’s what I thought too.

How about the fact that the company only requires me to log 15 minutes to do my pre-trip inspection? What if it takes 30 minutes? Or 45? Well, I don’t want to waste my valuable On-Duty time, so I’m not going to “log it as I do it” in this case either. The company may say that they want you to log it correctly, but they don’t really want you eating up your hours either. Fine by me.

There is, however, one thing I won’t give up on. There is absolutely no reasonable excuse for not making e-logs editable by the driver. Most carriers realize this and have given their drivers a big ol’ pink electronic eraser. Not mine. They’ve set them up according to the DOT “suggested guidelines.” I have no words for how stupid this is.

On paper logs, we could make changes and initial them if we screwed up. With my company e-logs, changes can only be made by a member of the safety department. If no one is there to make the changes until the next morning, I’m still required to “electronically” sign my logs as “accurate” at the end of the day. Since the only button available is to “okay” it, if I choose not to sign, I choose not to move. Even if I’m fully aware I’m signing a log that I know the safety department will change in the morning. And yes, I’ve brought this fact up to the safety director. All I can say is he’d make a good politician. I still don’t have a satisfactory answer.

Am I nitpicking? Yes I am. But a driver’s log book is a legal document that can and will be used to protect or defend us in a court of law. What happens if I have an accident causing a fatality before the safety department changes my log? Yes, the chances are slim, but it is a possibility. The fact is, I shouldn’t even be put in this position. Yet I am. Okay. Now that my blood pressure is testing the integrity of my veins, I’ll just suck it up and accept the fact that my company are boneheads when it comes to e-logs. If it weren’t for the money. . .

Now let’s close this sucker up. You can now see why I’m bringing my unhealthy obsession with e-logs to a close. I just can’t win. Most truckers would agree with everything I said, but throw the argument against e-logs at the lawmakers and I’d end up looking dumber than. . . well, dumber than I actually am. And quite frankly, that’s pretty freakin’ hard to do.

*What do you think about e-logs? Have I missed something? Please leave your comments and give this post a rating while you’re at it. Thanks.*

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18 Responses to TD77: Arguing E-logs

  1. humblefloyd October 28, 2011 at 6:19 AM #

    I do agree with your main points. But my e log must work differently than yours. Now I can edit,not the drive line but the other 3, and I think that makes all the difference. In place of initials there is the comment space. Your company is treating drivers like children instead of professionals. I see that as the real problem. I’m 62, done paper for years, and wanted to retire b4 e logs came. But I actually do like it now. It does in fact save me time. I do drive a little differently now because of it, but surprisingly, not much. I don’t think id like returning to paper. The hrs of service changes in the last 8 years are much harder to deal with. But we all know that. Thankz

    • Todd McCann November 10, 2011 at 11:05 AM #

      Thanks for your comments. Shame on me for not replying sooner.

      Yes, I’m fully aware that my company is the problem here. They’re the only company I’ve heard of that doesn’t allow some form of e-log editing. And while they are treating me like a child, I feel like one who gets an awesome allowance every week.

  2. rose lefebvre November 4, 2011 at 1:28 PM #

    There are pros and cons to everything. I do not know much about trucks, driving them and all but I can see both sides. Everyone is entitled to express their points and get it off their chest. Then, in the end, you should live by the rules. I am glad you are a reasonable person who also views both sides.
    I so enjoy your posts.

    • Todd McCann November 10, 2011 at 11:08 AM #

      Glad you enjoy my ramblings, Rose. You’re right. We should all live by the rules. I know that, it’s just that I don’t always want to.

  3. Lisa Nowak November 5, 2011 at 10:15 PM #

    The problem with the “illegal” argument is that there are plenty of laws that are just plain stupid. An e-log is a zero-tolerance device, and we don’t live in a black and white world. Yes, there are some people who are such idiots or cheats that they need such devices to regulate them. But those people are in the minority. By and large, human beings are capable of regulating their own behavior in a mature manner. There’s also an argument to be made that it’s less safe to have a driver abiding by the letter of the law but being so stressed out through his entire run than to have him fudge a little but be relaxed. I know what it’s like to operate so close to the edge like that, and I wouldn’t say I should be piloting a big rig during those moments. I probably shouldn’t be driving at all. Or even interfacing with the rest of humanity. 🙂

    • Todd McCann November 10, 2011 at 11:18 AM #

      Well said, Lisa. Trucking is so much different from other jobs. Almost everything we deal with is controlled by someone else. We can’t control traffic, weather, or how quick we get unloaded. We can’t force other drivers into showering at a different time to avoid a shower wait. We don’t have a say in how long it takes to get the truck into the shop for repairs. We don’t have control over the mechanic that inevitably takes his lunch break just as we pull into the shop. Nor do we have any way to reserve a parking spot at a truck stop.

      Yet everything I just mentioned (and a whole bunch more) affects our electronic logs. Not quite fair if you ask me.

      Thanks for your thoughts.

  4. rose lefebvre November 14, 2011 at 12:45 PM #

    blog has been awfully quiet lately….waiting for new stuff.

  5. Joe Schmoe June 6, 2012 at 3:40 AM #

    I drive for a small company. A few of our most important runs require the driver to fudge that last 15 minutes or so, because they’re so tight (683 mi in 11 hrs, with an unload/reload in the middle). The company knows this, but they’re putting E-logs in all the trucks. I can’t believe they’re that stupid.

    • Todd McCann June 6, 2012 at 8:40 AM #

      I can. Trucking companies do stupid stuff all the time. It is amazing though that they can’t see the issue they’re going to have with things being that tight. You’d think that anything that would put their important customer’s freight in jeopardy would raise about 5 million red flags. They’ll figure it out soon enough. I just hope they don’t have too much of their business wrapped up in these good runs. Either that, or they’ve already notified these customers that the delivery schedules will have to change.

      Thanks for sharing yet another stupid carrier trick, Mr. Schmoe.

  6. bigoz August 2, 2012 at 12:30 AM #

    I was on e-log with a company that when i need time to deliver.they would find the time.but when I was a few hour from home .I would have to take my 10 hour break ! wow

    • Todd McCann August 4, 2012 at 11:54 AM #

      Funny how that works, isn’t it bigoz? Just keep smiling and pretend it’ll get aaaaaaall better.

  7. mikey October 6, 2012 at 10:45 PM #

    If it wasnt for elogs id be home right now instead of 2 hours away waiting another 6 hours.

    • Todd McCann October 9, 2012 at 6:54 AM #

      I feel your pain, man. And two hours is juuuuuuuuust far enough away to not to want to bother anyone to come pick you up. I can do nothing else except join in your hatred of e-logs. Enjoy your home time when you finally get there… 6 hours later than you could’ve been.

  8. angrytrucker December 4, 2012 at 1:00 AM #

    Totally agree. Im being sent to an elogs class tomorrow and having them forced on my truck. So Ill be home a few days after that and will be quitting and changing carreers. This job is bairly worth it as is, but now I just cant see how I wont be loosing miles everyweek. The government has destroyed something else. Who would have ever thought that!!!!

  9. Todd McCann December 4, 2012 at 5:23 AM #

    Well angrytrucker, I don’t blame you for being angry. Change sucks. Especially when it could affect your pay. May I make a suggestion though? Unless you’re just ready to get out of the trucking game for other reasons, don’t let e-logs push you out until you give them a chance. Even just a few months could make the difference.

    I truly hated e-logs for the first several months and quite honestly I’d go back to paper in a second if they’d let me. But having said that, e-logs are like any other change in the industry; you’ll eventually get used to it. Remember the days of 10 hours of driving and 8-hour breaks? Every driver I knew swore they were going to quit when the rules changed to 11 and 10. But just like the HOS rules change, there is both good and bad. Even though we had to break for 2 hours longer, we also got to drive an extra hour each day. And they added the 34-hour restart rule to boot. I’ll bet you’re used to all that now, huh? (If you haven’t been around that long, you’ll have to trust me here.)

    Same goes with e-logs. They’ve got their issues, but we’ve all gotten used to them. Sure it sucks that you can’t fudge 15 minutes here or there, but it also kinda rocks that you don’t have to spend time filling out paper log books and digging through maps to find out where you’re parked for the night. I don’t have to keep track of my 70 hours either. And that cursed split sleeper berth rule that confuses every driver on the planet? It’s all laid out with remarkable clarity in the e-logs.

    Just do yourself a favor. Don’t quit driving just yet. We need experienced drivers out here. If you’d like to see my progresssion of thought of e-logs, type “e-logs” (hyphen must be there) in the search bar in the sidebar at the top of this page and all 5 of my articles on e-logs will pop up. Read them in order to see how my thinking changed over time.

    Good luck with whatever you decide,

    Todd

  10. Faroguy February 20, 2013 at 11:20 PM #

    “So there’s my point. I’m trying to convince everyone that e-logs suck because I can’t run illegal like I used to do.”

    I’d say that this sentence pretty well sums up why elogs exist. Like any change in the trucking industry everyone is against it initially. The same arguments have been used against elogs, HOS changes, keeping logs in the first place and requiring a CDL. As long as you approach it with an open mind and pay attention to what you’re doing elogs are a tool that can help you save time. Most drivers I know wouldn’t want to go back to paper after an adjustment period to get used to elogs. You are right however about editing mistakes being an important feature.

    • Todd McCann February 25, 2013 at 4:37 PM #

      Hey there, Fargoguy.

      I have to say that I wouldn’t want to go back to paper logs either, but probably not for the reason you might think. You see, I want to do what is right and what is legal. But I also don’t want to waste my precious working hours out here. I still feel that uneditable e-logs waste a driver’s time. I am not convinced that they are making me more efficient. The thing is, if the Hours-of-Service rules were more flexible, it wouldn’t matter in the least whether a driver was on paper or electronic logs. But they aren’t. So I guess I’ll just have to settle for my crappy, uneditable e-logs to force me to be an upright, yet inefficent citizen.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, driver. Always appreciated.

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