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July 9, 2012 8:00 AM, EDT

Letter: The Driver’s Advocate

This Letter to the Editor appears in the July 9 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

The Driver’s Advocate

One of the letters to the editor of your publication written by a safety manager recently did an excellent job of making our point about “harassment” and electronic onboard recorders, or EOBRs (6-18, p. 8).

The writer was of the opinion that an EOBR is the driver’s friend because: “Drivers either have the hours to run a dispatch or they do not.”

What that writer is leaving out of the equation is exactly what the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and others (drivers) are saying: Just because I have hours to run doesn’t mean I am alert and safe enough to run them.

I am not an extension of the on/off switch that is connected to the engine. Driving 11 hours across Kansas in July is very different from driving 11 hours across Kansas in January. Eleven hours driving in the Northeast are a lot more fatiguing than 11 hours in Texas.

I have been an owner-operator for 35 years, and I am a 3 million-mile safe driver with numerous safety awards, including American Trucking Associations Road Team finalist in 1999.

I am the captain of the ship, and only I know when it is safe for me to drive — not the EOBR, not the paper log, not the next highway patrolman I may encounter, and certainly not some bureaucrat in Washington, D.C.

That is the entire fallacy about using more and more electronic devices, be they EOBRs, rollover prevention equipment, speed limiters or the increasingly out-of-touch hours-of-service that keep on changing. Either you trust me to exercise proper judgment when making the dozens of decisions per minute I make as a driver or you do not.

This discussion must take into account the human factor and other daily variables. To ignore them is lunacy.

Jeffry Beyer

Owner-Operator for Trailer Transit

New Tripoli, Pa.