The Last Cowboy

December 16, 2015

This is the last cowboy song:
The end of a hundred year waltz.
The voices sound sad as they’re singin’ along.
Another piece of America’s lost.  The Highwaymen

 

SLEEPING DRIVER

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Dec. 10 announced its long-awaited final rule requiring that interstate drivers use electronic recording devices intended to enforce hours of service regulations, and reduce driver fatigue and paperwork for motor carriers and drivers.  “Since 1938, complex, on-duty/off-duty logs for truck and bus drivers were made with pencil and paper, virtually impossible to verify,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “This automated technology not only brings logging records into the modern age, it also allows roadside safetyinspectors to unmask violations of federal law that put lives at risk.”

In preparation for this announcement the FMCSA required some changes in how our electronic logging devices (ELDs) work, which I’m sure you have noticed.  To save yourself trouble learning these changes, be sure to plan your time carefully and follow these tips:

Turning your truck ignition to “off” will help protect your duty status.
Do NOT log out of the system to circumvent the system.
Do NOT use off duty driving to circumvent the system.
Be proactive on managing your duty status in the system.
The criteria for personal conveyance has not changed.
As always, if you have issues or specific questions, you can contact our Safety team for further assistance.

One of the most important core values at ACT is that of “integrity.”  Integrity means doing the right things always, even if nobody is looking, even if nobody will ever know.  We have a long history of being proactive on safety and compliance and a long earned reputation of being “by the book.”  We were an early adopter of ELDs.  When I say we are “by the book,” it is more than lip service.  We are “by the book,” no kidding, no excuses, no exceptions.  We may not like all the laws and regulations we operate under, but we follow them.

There are many benefits to this culture.  We sleep well at night.  We know that of all the problems we can have in trucking, violating the law is not one of them.  We fear no audit, whether that by the DOT, the IRS or any other agency.  We know we are legal so they can come in and look at anything they want.  It makes drivers more miles.  We don’t run backroads to avoid scales.  We don’t spend a lot of time in the chicken coops.  Our CSA scores are low and most of the time an ACT driver will get a green light at the scales.  How much time and how many miles does that save?  A lot.

We deployed ELDs a long time ago and our drivers learned how to use them.  There is a learning curve.  At first a driver may lose miles.  But they soon learn that with good time management and planning a driver in a company with a “by the book” culture can get as many or more miles on ELD’s.  Many of our drivers like the convenience and say they would never go back to paper.

ACT’s rates to customers and our pay to drivers are set so that the company and the driver can make good money running legally.  This is a big advantage going forward as the entire industry adapts to ELD’s.  All the good carriers now use ELDs.  But there are many cowboy trucker or “sport truckers” who don’t.  Why don’t they?  For many it is because they run illegally.  When we bid against these outlaws, they are the ones who put in cheap, below cost, rates.  Why?  Because they make it up on illegal miles.  These are also the companies who pay drivers cheap and coerce them into running illegally.

Recently the FMCSA published a rule prohibiting coercing a shipper, broker, carrier or receiver from coercing a driver into running illegally.  For us, this is a big “duh!” but for many this is a big threat of large fines.  No longer can a shipper or carrier put everything that goes wrong on the back of the driver.  We applaud the regulation.

BOOTS

Running cowboy is about to end.  It is often the outlaw competition who put in cheap rates.  Well, no more.  Our rates determine how much we can pay drivers and we always want to pay more.  The cowboy’s world is about to change and this will be to our competitive advantage.  They will be forced to do things legally.  Their costs will rise.  They too, will now have the cost of doing things right.  No longer can they cut corners at the expense of the driver.  They will have to get their rates up not only to make a profit, but to keep their drivers.  Their drivers are not paid enough to run “by the book.”  The business model of these outlaws will change dramatically.  Many will not be able to adjust quickly enough to stay in business.  Those that make the adjustment will have to price their services and pay their drivers responsibly.  We think this is a good thing.  Shipper and receivers who waste a driver’s time and expect him to just deal with it are in for heavy changes too.  As everyone goes to ELD’s the focus will be on driver’s precious time.  They will have to change how they do things.  Our long time investment in integrity is about to pay off.

Happy and Legal Trucking!

Tom