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Reblogged:Electronic Logs vs. Trucking

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Over at the Spectator is an excellent article by Teresa Mull showing how poorly government mandates serve as a substitute for thinking. "Big Government Is Ruining Trucking" explores how mandatory logging rules have decreased productivity and safety, contrary to the latter, their supposed rationale. You will also get a good feel for why when you read it.

(I'll dispatch with my main complaint about this otherwise very good piece now: Improper government is ruining trucking. No matter how big or small the government is, if it is not being used for its proper purpose, protecting individual rights, it is being misused. Government telling us how to do our own jobs is not only impractical, as evidenced by this piece, it is immoral for it to do so.)

With that out of the way, here is an example of why these mandates are harmful: The rules force drivers to follow certain patterns of driving and taking breaks, directly impacting productivity.
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Image by Zetong Li, via Unsplash, license.
"According to a survey by the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), the ELD [electronic logging device -- ed] mandate is the biggest concern in the trucking industry," reports CDLjobs.com. "The biggest concern surrounding ELDs is that they may force a decrease in driving hours and thus hurt productivity. It could also lead to discomfort for drivers."

The truckers I spoke to explained how the mandate cuts both ways by limiting drivers' output and making them drive when they don't want to.

"It forces you to drive, because your electronic log starts," says Jack. "If you want to stop, you can't. If you run into a friend and want to visit over a cup of coffee for a couple hours while you wait for rush hour to die down, you can't." [bold added]
Just from that second paragraph, you can see a driver having to waste fuel and time crawling in traffic instead of zipping through, well-rested at a more optimal time. Later, you will learn that the clock also encourages speeding as it winds down. Oh, and it causes ridiculous inefficiencies, such as everyone starting and stopping their days at the same time.

It is a credit to the author that it is easy to see that the negative effects of this mandate all spring from the fact that it is taking the minds of the individual truck drivers out of the equation. (I have written before that trucking is more challenging than lots of people think.)

Consider any job you have ever held, and how annoyed you were (or would be) at being forced to do something in an inefficient or time-consuming way when a better way was obvious to you. How would that affect your morale, and how long would you tolerate having to work that way? And remember, this is in addition to not being able to take breaks when you might want them (to catch up with a friend) or know you need them -- and being forced to take them when all they will do is waste your money and your time.

Many people might pooh-pohh all this talk about when to take breaks, but they are important and individual needs can vary greatly. Furthermore, deciding such things for oneself is a part of the flexibility and autonomy are or were major drawing cards for this occupation.

When I was a kid, television shows and movies routinely portrayed truckers as free and independent. It is a shame to see as an adult, when I can better appreciate what that means, that that occupation (and with it, a way of life) is being endangered by the same creeping paternalism that has been eroding the rest of our country for some time.

-- CAV

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