Lynn Paul does a lot of driving in California. And she’s noticed something interesting.
It involves trucks that are both speed limited and have electronic logging devices.
The Toledo, Wash., trucker – an OOIDA life member – said that those truckers, because of the hard deadlines they perceive come with an ELD, will push their rigs to the highest speed they can go, no matter what the speed limit of the highway they’re on.
It’s led, she said, to more and more frequent violations of the speed limit.
In a state with a 55 mph speed limit for trucks and with the limited trucks able to go 62, 65 or 68 miles per hour, depending on the company they drive for, that’s not very hard to do.
Lynn said that as more and more fleets adopt both speed limiters and ELDs, she’s seeing more of this behavior. They treat the ELD sticker, she said, “like a speeding pass.”
“I’ve seen that get a lot uglier,” she said, “since everybody’s running them.”
That’s not a big surprise to people who are familiar with the research on this topic.
From listening to truckers on the phone, in person and online, I can tell you that even though an ELD runs on the same regulations as a paper logbook, and even though those devices can easily be cheated, people perceive that they have a tighter deadline.
Perhaps it’s those that give you audible warnings as you get toward your limit. Perhaps it’s just attitude. But it is happening.
Now, combine that with this: A survey by the OOIDA Foundation of truckers who drive speed limited rigs found that many of those truckers said they kept their trucks at their top limited speed – even when the speed limit was lower.
Before you think that this is just one more attempt to blame truckers for all the accidents, let me repeat something else that I’ve said and written before: Most wrecks involving a truck are not the fault of the truck. That’s still the case. I don’t play that game.
But nonetheless, this situation, and what Lynn is seeing, clearly shows the folly of thinking that these technologies will magically create safer roads. They won’t. They may well do the opposite.
At the very least, they are creating clear incentives for truckers to engage in behavior that, if left alone and without these technologies, they would not engage in.
The law of unintended consequences is alive and well in California. Just ask Lynn Paul.