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NewsTechnologyTrucking

Outages hit PeopleNet electronic logging devices

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is “aware of and monitoring” the situation.

Drivers using PeopleNet electronic logging devices (ELDs) are reporting a higher-than-usual number of outages, along with sluggish log-in times and other system malfunctions.

“They’ll log in and it [the ELD] just thought and thought and just wants to think the whole time,” said Tom Kuehl, owner of Kuehl Transport in Heron Lake, Minnesota.

Kuehl said several of his drivers have encountered difficulties with the system over the past two days. 

PeopleNet parent company Trimble Transportation (NASDAQ: TRMB) did not immediately respond to FreightWaves’ requests for comment.  

A spokesperson for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) said the agency is “aware of and monitoring” the situation.

Drivers are also experiencing longer-than-usual customer service wait times. “Please get more PeopleNet support staff for phones, a 121-minute wait time is unacceptable,” tweeted one irate driver on Dec. 19.

One of his drivers who contacted the PeopleNet service line on Jan. 2 was given a case number of 1,300, according to Kuehl. The usual case number is in the hundreds, he said.

“They [PeopleNet] said they were swamped,” Kuehl said.

Anecdotal reports suggest that problems with PeopleNet may have increased just after the Dec. 16 deadline that required drivers using automatic on-board recording devices (AOBRDs) to convert to ELDs. Sluggish wait times could point to problems with the server, which might be overloaded as a result of the ELD mandate.

Michael Vanidestine, an over-the-road driver at Wisconsin-based Ecklund Logistics, said in a Facebook post that the company’s PeopleNet system went down Dec. 31. He speculated that the ELD malfunctioned because the computer system did not recognize the calendar year of 2020, although there is no evidence to suggest that is the case.

“We’re on paper logs until they correct the problem,” Vanidestine said.

Quincy Johnson, an over-the-road driver, told FreightWaves his problems with PeopleNet started Dec. 29. “When I woke up, the GPS was out, the Wi-Fi was out,” he said.  

“I tried turning it off, turning it back on — nothing. It’s just down,” Johnson said.

Johnson, who works for a Denver-based carrier, said he plans to get the device fixed once he returns to the yard. He is now using a paper log. “It reminds me of the early days of trucking,” he said. “I guess it’s good for my math skills.”

The PeopleNet outage is the latest in a series of high-profile fleet management system breakdowns. An Omnitracs shutdown Nov. 2 left tens of thousands of truck drivers with malfunctioning ELDs. Two weeks ago an outage hit Truckstop.com, one of the two biggest truck freight-matching platforms in the U.S. 

According to the Trimble website, PeopleNet products are used by approximately 1,500 truckload, LTL, private and regional fleets in the U.S. and Canada.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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Linda Baker, Senior Environment and Technology Reporter

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves senior reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes autonomous vehicles, the startup scene, clean trucking, and emissions regulations. Please send tips and story ideas to lbaker@freightwaves.com.

22 Comments

  1. Quote :

    Truck fatalities are at the highest rate since 1988. Are ELDs to blame?

    One group called for the immediate suspension of ELD regulations after the crash data was released.

    October 24, 2019

    Startling new data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that large truck occupants are dying in crashes at the highest rate in decades following the implementation of Electronic Logging Device (ELD) regulations intended to increase highway safety.

    On October 22, the NHTSA released a report on crash fatalities in 2018 — the first full year since the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) required most truckers to start using ELDs to track Hours of Service compliance in December of 2017. The FMCSA promised that the ELD Mandate would “help create a safer work environment for drivers.”
    While there was a 2.4% decrease in crash fatalities for all drivers, the NHTSA data showed that fatal crashes involving large trucks actually increased by 0.9%.

    Additionally, large truck occupant fatalities also increased by 0.8% to 885 in total for 2018. This marks the highest rate of large truck occupant crash deaths since 1988, when 911 people lost their lives.
    James Lamb of the trucking trade group Small Business in Transportation Coalition wrote to Congress in the wake of the release of the fatal crash data asking for the immediate suspension of ELD regulations. Lamb argued that ELDs encourage truckers to speed to try to beat the clock, which in turn leads to an increased number of crashes.

    From Lamb’s letter to Congress:
    In any event, whereas the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) had promised the industry and public that ELDs would save 26 lives per year, it now is evident this is not the case. Our members have reported to us that they have witnessed an increase in truck drivers speeding recklessly since the ELD rule went into effect to beat the clock, a clock that has now become controlled by machines.

    While we neither condone cheating on paper logs nor speeding, we can understand truck drivers’ anxiety in that they are trying to avoid starvation because they are paid by the mile. We believe this is the reason for the increase in fatalities these past two years –rather than FMCSA’s projected decrease… in this, the ELD era. We therefore write to you both today to respectfully ask you to please immediately suspend the ELD mandate and direct FMCSA to further study this issue to determine whether the ELD rule is ripe for repeal. We believe this would immediately relieve the strain on the industry and protect the public from more fatalities in the remainder of 2019 and moving forward.

    The NHTSA released preliminary crash fatality data for 2018 in June 2019 that also pointed toward an upward trend in truck crash fatalities in the first full year of the ELD Mandate.”

    End quote .

    They won’t abolish ELD’s , what they will do is increase regulations and mandate speed limiters . However , speed limiters are also unsafe . LOL !

    In Canada enforcement agencies even abandoned EzTap devices to enforce speed limiter laws due to their unreliability .

    You can read about it further by googling this title :

    Enforcement teams toss speed limiter inspection tool

    In my humble opinion …………………

  2. The educated, the elite , the law school grade that have been molded into leaders. Take a good look.. . A real good look at who we have leading the way. Our days are numbered. All industry, all our lives are really going to see what it’s like NOT to be the free, prosperous people we have been. It’s our fault too. I never thought I’d see the day the trucking industry would just lay down and allow this to go on. Now we have foreign drivers and student drivers whom are unablet to perform the job. It’s scary out here and the fixes are so ignorant to the problems. Wake up for God’s sake wake up.

  3. Furthermore , in regards to speed limiters enforced since 2007 in Canada within Quebec and Ontario .

    Let’s see if this supposed “safety” mandate increased safety and reduced collisions

    Quote :

    Ontario crash stats a disappointment

    In early April, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) released statistics for fatal collisions on roadways it patrolled in 2017.
    The stats indicated the OPP responded to 68,794 collisions in 2017, 304 of which were fatal. This marked the highest number of road fatalities in five years.

    Seventy-six of these 304 fatal collisions involved commercial vehicles (25%), resulting in 91 deaths. These numbers represent a 10-year high for fatal collisions involving commercial vehicles. While the stats do not indicate who was at fault, one thing is clear, we all have work to do to continue to promote and improve road safety.”

    AGAIN ,

    Quote :

    Transport Truck Crashes in Ontario Increase in 2018

    According to the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), between January 1 and July 9, 2017, Ontario roads patrolled by the OPP saw 24 fatal accidents involving transport trucks. During the same period this year, that number rose to 33, representing a 38% increase. Overall, truck crashes in Ontario have accounted for 11% of all traffic collisions in the province this year.”

    End quote .

    But why and who lobbied for speed limiters under the guise of “safety” ?

    Major motor carriers through their trucking associations . WHY ? To SAVE ON FUEL ! If you reduce the speed it costs less on fuel . But if you don’t have it mandated for all in your “competitive” field then you won’t be competitive .

    So you need to “collude” and lobby the idea using hocus pocus propaganda to CONvince government .

    Now by mandating it you level the competitive field among your cut throat competition . Now you can save on fuel , but it comes at a huge cost to the smaller operators .

    Example : A decrease in 10 miles per hour per 13 hours of allowed driving time in Canada = 130 miles less per day . Multiply that per week and it reduces the amount of loads you can haul especially between two major cities ie; Montreal & Toronto & back .

    So while this may appear as leveling the competitive field among carriers , it actually decreases the competition’s loads and increases market share for major carries at the expense of Owner Operators .

    So major carriers win both ways . They increase their market share and save on fuel . It has absolutely “nothing” to do with safety .

    In fact speed limiters have been proven to be unsafe . They are considered safe in the sport of racing on certain race tracks, not on public roads . Furthermore we have speed “limits” , a law that if disrespected and caught for violating it , punishable . That’s the way to deal with “speed” on public roads . Not discriminate against a minority group and impose a law on a select few through some sort of mandated device .

    However , rather than abolish speed limiters , carriers through their associations have continued to advocate safety to further their agenda . They have been lobbying the government in Canada to implement ELD’s .

    We all know that the general training received in the trucking industry through most government regulated “trucking schools” are a complete joke . Most of those schools simply help you obtain a “license” , not teach you how to drive .

    However , in trucking you need skill . Most of those “trucking schools” would say , no , you’ll learn how to truck on the road when you get a job in the industry . WOW ! Really ? So we see a lot of new recruits driving unsafely . Once they get experience , they generally tend to drive better . I say generally , because some four wheelers apparently don’t improve with time .

    Anyways , now associations and the public have been pushing for better training because they realized the lack of “skill” drivers have due to collisions that could be prevented with skill , and especially since horrendous collisions like the recent Humboldt collision in Saskatchewan Canada . This really pushed the government to change the commercial trucking training structure in Canada . However, this also played into the major carriers hands to push the ELD with their hocus pocus safety propaganda .

    Eventually they’ll push that autonomous trucks are safer compared to the one’s driven by human beings .

    Keep in mind that the speed limit on major highways in Ontario have been increased for the general public lately from 100km/h to 110 km/h = from 62mph to 68mph , not for long haul trucks though . This again is discriminatory . We also can see through the stats that there are a lot more collisions caused by and which implicate motor vehicles that are not commercial trucks . Though their training isn’t improving nor are they being regulated with a speed limiter mandate .

    This suggests that there is something else going on . If you dig deep enough , you’ll find what that “something else” is . There’s a ton of deception involved .

    In my humble opinion ………….

    1. Keep in mind the idea and creation of an ELD was by a major carrier by the name of WERNER ENTERPRISES !

      They lobbied government for it to become the norm . AGAIN a major carrier IMPOSING their desire on everyone else ! WHY ? For competitive reasons !

      IMHO(in my humble opinion)

  4. In conclusion , from my perspective these sort of regulations put pressure on the little operators and their drivers . Now I’m not saying that there isn’t a need for some sort of regulations due to the abuse that is occurring in all fronts within the industry . We need solutions to curtail the abuse . It just happens to be that these current so called “solutions” are creating more problems .

    However , in regards to smaller operators , by regulating their speed limit unfairly compared to the rest of the public , you’re enticing them to cheat their log books even more , aside from poor shipper & receiver coordination reasons that lead to log book cheating .

    You’re also going to entice the smaller operators to take advantage of loopholes by misclassifying drivers . They’re trying to make up for the lost funds that regulations impose .

    So you come up with the idea to regulate ELD’s . Now you’re really attempting to remove their log book cheating edge through the hocus pocus propaganda of safety . Now not only are they getting squeezed to the max , they are stressed to beat the clock . This ends up increasing a lack of safety , and once again further reducing their earnings in the process .

    Now truck drivers are competing for parking spaces and getting charged to park . If no parking is found , their safety and the public’s is diminished due to parking just about anywhere in an attempt to prevent violating the “clock” .

    ELD’s have “glitches” which renders them unreliable . Paper log books are not reliable either . The industry is controlled and manipulated by unethical people . The whole structure in the industry needs to change .

    Training is a complete joke . First , don’t train students on public roads ! Once they are trained , then take them out on public roads .

    Have you trained students with virtual reality in regards to distraction ? Have you trained them through virtual reality in regards to fatigue ? Your so called “safety” training is a joke !

    Perhaps an example can be used as how the US air force pilots are trained . That’s quite an extreme you say ? As extreme as their training is , keep in mind that they aren’t piloting on public roads with major traffic . Therefore truck driving training should be even more extreme . Teach them through experience what occurs when you lack sleep . Have them experience micro-sleeps in class sitting in a virtual truck cab driving on a virtual road for hours beyond regulated HOS . Have them experience it .

    Not only will you be teaching them their own limits , you’ll have them experience the effect of being a zombie on the open road and how dangerous it can be to their wellbeing and the wellbeing of others .

    Then you’ll say ,”but that sort of improved training is expensive” . Not as expensive as not being trained has currently cost . What’s the price you’re willing to put on a life ?

    If you the government who regulate driving schools have accepted mediocre driver training , then you’ve been incompetent and negligent . Perhaps it is you who should be sued and asked to resign . After all , it is you that tests them and grants them a license .

    This sort of negligence goes far up the “food chain” right to the TOP ! If you regulate something and it ends up causing harm to the public , we can’t blame the public . We need to look at who and what brought you to make such a negligent decision .

    Were you bought ? Were you manipulated ? Or are you simply incompetent ? Etc. You the government have an unbiased responsibility of a “duty of care” towards the people .

    How dare you allow yourselves to be manipulated and or to manipulate to , and or make a decision to create regulations that favor a few and discriminate against others . What a sham and shame .

    In my humble opinion ………..

  5. After 40 years on the road, I have based my opinion on the reality and facts of trucking and truck drivers. If a truck is involved in an accident or getting too many violations there is only one person to blame and that is the driver. If a driver allows an ELD, dispatcher, desk jockey, safety manager, other drivers, or anyone else to put them in an unsafe act then it is nobody’s fault but the drivers. You can blame college-educated people, ELDs, smokey bears, or anything that you want but when you turn that key on in the tractor it is YOU in charge of that load and truck not a desk jockey with book learnings and no common sense. These desk jockeys are smart enough to know that if they can convince an ignorant driver to speed and drive reckless to make that impossible delivery time that if something happens the driver is responsible for what happens on the road. If you get tickets for your company or broker then you’re not the brightest driver on the road. You are what they call “yes” men/women.

    Near where I live there was an accident where a tour bus driver got his foot caught between the fuel and brake pedal and could not stop before rear-ending a pickup truck and killing a young man. The driver’s pathetic excuse was that his company never trained him on how to remove his foot when this happens. Driver doesn’t matter who you blame you were behind the wheel.

    I used PeopleNet for a few years and their equipment is a piece of crap. It constantly locks up and restarts several times a day and if you’re using the navigation at the wrong time it will give bad directions. That is why you plan a trip before starting a trip and put those directions on paper to glance at. Drive safe the life you save might be your own or at least buy enough life insurance so that your wife and future boyfriend will be happy.

  6. The whole idea of using ELD’s is a disaster from the start. The companies manufacturing them never foresaw failures in computerized equipment? This was a rush job and not thought out before being made mandatory.

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