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California truckers show displeasure over new safety law

Federal legislation enacted a new safety law aimed at keeping tired truckers off the road and ended up putting a lot of angry truckers on the road instead -- especially in California.

Trucks around the state began a "rolling protest" on Oct. 7, slowing traffic down and blocking roadways everywhere -- all united against the electronic logging devices (ELDs) that have to be installed in trucks by Dec. 18, 2017.

The ELDs are replacing the paper logs that truckers have used for more than 80 years and are designed to measure the number of hours a trucker's vehicle is in use. Under federal regulations, truckers can only keep working for 14 hours at a time -- and only 11 of those can be behind the wheel.

The problem with the electronic logs is they allow for zero flexibility -- once started, an ELD runs continuously for 14 hours, and drivers have to stop driving once that time limit is reached.

However, truckers say this could actually put them at a bigger risk of an accident. For example, their 14 hours might be up when they're stuck in traffic on an off-ramp while there's a rest stop only a mile or two away -- forcing them to pull off at the side of the road where they're more likely to be hit by a distracted driver than if they were able to simply continue to the rest stop where it's safer. It could also force them to stop in a crime-ridden area where they -- and their loads -- are in danger.

They also say that the ELDs don't account for the way the trucking business actually works. Since the timer runs even if the truck isn't moving -- like during loading or unloading -- the 14 hours could be up even though the driver wasn't working the entire time and hadn't hit his or her 11th hour on the road.

While it remains to be seen if ELDs actually do reduce accidents, auto drivers should still remain cautious around big rigs -- especially if they suddenly pull over or you see them parked in unusual places along the highway as a result of forced stops. Anyone who ends up in an accident with a truck should consider talking to an attorney about his or her possible right to compensation.

Source: www.kfvs12.com, "Truckers in California slow down traffic in rolling protest," Oct. 07, 2017

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