A trucker, a logbook, a loading dock and some really bad advice

By Mark H. Reddig, Land Line Now Host

For a long time, we have said that the big problem with compliance takes place at the loading dock, not on the road. Yet, over and over and over, a number of groups in this industry – people at the FMCSA, carriers, supporters of EOBRs and more – insist on talking only about driving time.

If you want yet more confirmation that the loading dock is where the problem lies, and that the folks regulating you don’t get it, try this on for size.

A trucker – leaving only her first name, Lori – called us about a delivery to a federal facility.

She had an appointment, even arrived a half hour early. Yet it was nine hours before she was able to leave.

Of course, her 14-hour clock was entirely run out. Technically, she could not move the truck one inch. So to seek guidance, she called one of the FMCSA’s field offices.

The advice she received just about kicked me in the head like a Missouri mule. The FMCSA official said it was no one’s responsibility that she was held up so long. However, and he made this clear, under no circumstances should she move the truck.

That’s easy to say for a desk jockey, and a hell of a lot harder for a trucker. I’ve heard from others in similar situations told by shippers or receivers to leave the dock and the lot, or face arrest.

Lori says that before the FMCSA beats up on drivers, they should look in their own backyard. I agree – especially if a federal facility is doing this.

They also need to look at the people they’re hiring if they think that’s the kind of answer they should give a trucker in her situation.

Lori had to wait, legally required to stay on duty, not driving in her log, but was not paid for one minute of that time, as any other American worker in any other job would be.

How was she supposed to drive to a proper and safe resting place with no time left on her 14-hour clock? Have these people never heard of Jason Rivenburg?

But this situation also touches on other issues not even present. One example is EOBRs.

I don’t know if Lori was using one or not, and I need to make that clear. But in her situation, an EOBR would have had no way to tell, as she waited, whether she was loading, unloading, on duty, off duty, in the sleeper berth, or even in the truck.

It could only say that her truck was not moving.

EOBR supporters say over and over that the devices can stop cheating, that they can ensure compliance. Lori’s situation proves that to be pure, unadulterated bull.

Lori did everything in her power to be compliant and to follow the rules. Look at what they gave her.

This agency thinks people like Lori need EOBRs. I think the agency – and Congress – need to hold folks who are responsible for your situation legally responsible. Until they do that, nothing they do will truly end this issue. If they think otherwise, they are fooling themselves. LL