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The ATA, Bill Graves, and the Federal Government trying to sell America more enforcement under the guise of safety.

6-12-2012

Recently the ATA President and CEO Bill Graves gave his latest input on the EOBR debate and his endorsement of passing a law making them mandatory in all trucks operating in the United States. Here is what Mr. Graves had to say:

“This collaboration and coming together of the trucking industry, the law enforcement community and the motoring public around a single issues underscores how important this proposal is. We hope that Congress won’t miss this opportunity to do something that will have a measurable, and positive, impact on the safety of our highways.”

Of course Mr. Graves wouldn’t make these boisterous claims by himself so he aligned himself with other people who would back his play, CVSA Executive Director Steve Keppler added:

“There’s a definite linkage between problem actors, and future crash involvement.”

However it doesn’t stop here folks, the video released by the ATA also has statements by a former owner-operator with what they claim to be experience with weaknesses of paper logs, that former owner-operator is Steve Rush, founder and President of Carbon Express Inc. and here is what he had to say:

“I’m a reformed cheater….I made money doing that…We need these electronic logs for sure.”

Chris Plaushin, the director of federal relations with AAA chimed in with:

“Congress has an important opportunity to help make the roads safer”

Keppler and Graves both attempted to shoot down concerns about privacy and safety with Keppler stating that being an EOBR is simply collecting data that’s already required that privacy is a:

“non-issue” and “it’s just converting it from paper to electronic”

Graves threw in his take that an EOBR:

“costs less than a couple tires on an 18 wheeler, and the costs keep coming down.”

Well now everyone is entitled to their opinion and that is exactly what these parties are expressing, so what is the problem? Where should we begin?

We can start with the fact that several parties including myself have asked the ATA and Mr. Graves for the supposed statistical data that shows that an EOBR will make the highways or a driver to be safer in any way. To the best of my knowledge they have either declined to respond to those requests or have not provided any type of data. What could the possible reason behind this be? How about the fact that there is no supporting data, or maybe Mr. Graves doesn’t want to be called out on the carpet about his claims.

The ATA proclaimed itself as “the voice of the industry that America depends on” so I ask you publicly Bill Graves, just who do you represent? Do you represent the company drivers, independents, or how about the owner-operators that are actually out running the millions of miles on our highways or do you represent the best interests of large companies who are members of the ATA, all from the safety of your desk and phone?.

Mr. Keppler, where are the definite links that you so proudly claim exist with future crash involvement? Mr. Rush, it’s nice to know that you are a past offender and maybe that lead to your former owner-operator status, but does that mean that all of the drivers out there use the same bad judgment that you obviously did?

For any of these individuals to say things like privacy is a “non-issue” or that the cost is “less than a couple of tires” is nothing short of selling a false bill of goods. A device that monitors the the coordinates of a vehicle that a person is utilizing for both on duty and off duty time on a 24 hour basis doesn’t infringe on privacy, please feel free to explain that one Mr. Keppler. The cost of an EOBR ranges from $800-$2000 per unit plus a $30-$50 monthly fee, nice attempt at using the low-ball figure there Mr. Graves, I sure would like to know why you buy such expensive tires.

Let’s put the question out there that I have been asking for several years….what crash is more dangerous, 18-wheeler vs. commuter vehicle or commuter vehicle vs.18-wheeler? No matter who instigates the accident the result can be the same. An EOBR doesn’t make a road safer and it doesn’t make sure a driver gets proper rest. Is the device going to inject a driver with with a tranquilizer that forces them to rest for 10 hours? Is it going to stop a carrier from forcing a driver to push on just because a device says he or she has hours remaining even after the driver has informed the carrier that they do not feel rested enough to drive safely? Is it going to account for time spent outdoors in inclement weather while tarping or securing a load?, because for many people that will deplete a lot of their energy reserves which they can only recover from appropriate rest. The answer to these questions is NO!!!

If any of the individuals involved in pushing this mandate through were honestly concerned about safety then they would have spent their money on educating future drivers of both commuter and commercial vehicles instead of paying lobbyists at capitol hill to put more control into the hands of the government and big business. How can any of them justify that driving a commuter vehicle nonstop from Los Angeles to Minneapolis is somehow safer than what professional drivers are now limited to? Are they now going to pass a law limiting drive time in a commuter vehicle? I highly doubt it because the American public wouldn’t stand for it.

The ATA and other entities like it choose to do everything in the name of “safety” yet commercial vehicles and the drivers of those vehicles are the safest they have ever been. Should those of us who maintain safe vehicles and know when it’s safe to drive or not be required to have someone monitoring everything we do while out on the road? Maybe we should get them to pass a law requiring common sense, because at this rate the only road they are making safer to travel is the one used to take away our rights as citizens and to continue the very inaccurate stereotyping of professional truck drivers as second class citizens that shouldn’t be trusted unless attached to a 24 hour electronic babysitter.

If you want to get the offenders off the roads then make the penalty more severe for violating the current hours of service regulations, not by requiring the true professional drivers to submit to being treated like common criminals.

Professional drivers want to see the data that proves these devices will be beneficial to safety yet nobody can seem to come up with that data. I want to see the data so where is it Mr. Graves? Mr. Keppler? Anyone?…………Don’t appeal to Americans that you are trying to make the roads safer with devices that will have no effect on safety, if a driver cannot stop when he or she feels they need to then someone please explain how that is a safety enhancing device. The most effective safety preventative measures are properly trained drivers in all vehicles on the road today and not people processed like cattle at driving schools.

Take the time to address the real problems instead of making excuses to create more problems by implementing devices that will be abused and exploited at the expense of professional drivers. These words are my opinions on the matter and they come from a man who has never injured any human being while in the operation of any motor vehicle in 23 years of driving, I don’t spend millions for lobbyists in Washington D.C. and I don’t take part in political hand-washing so I can see where people like Mr. Graves and Mr. Keppler would like to dismiss me as nobody……..well I’m the nobody like 14 million other nobody’s delivering the freight that keeps the backbone of this country’s economy running, the same ones that you claim to be a voice for. The odd thing is, your voice and my voice are very far from the same voice!!!

Jason Haggard

Owner-operator/Professional Driver/Driver Advocate

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