MISSOULA, Mont. - Time is running out for truckers to comply with a new law. The ELD mandate requires electronic logging devices, meant to keep truckers from driving too many hours.
Sage Truck Driving Schools in Missoula is where people go to get their CDL. They spend 10 days in the classroom and 44 hours driving.
"It's a good program, and I always say any time you have a CDL and you have a clean driving record, you're going to find a job," says instructor Don Halbert. He’s had a CDL for 48 years.
The current students will be entering the workforce under new terms -- mandatory electronic logging devices in every truck.
Monday, truckers across the country protested. One reason is because the devices prevent them from pausing their 14-hour day. They can drive for 11 hours, but the machines will count breaks or even time in traffic against them.
"I've seen a lot of changes. This one, the 14-hour, I can see where they want to go with that and why. I just think they need to tweak it a little bit better. It's a good start, and you have to start somewhere," said Halbert.
He said dispatchers love it because they know where the drivers are and if they’re on time.
"It's stellar, it's a real good part of the programming. The only thing I would change would be the 14-hour duty status," said Halbert.
There are a lot of different kinds of ELDs. That’s why instructors at Sage teach logging by hand and leave the electronic training up to the employers.
However, some truckers who employ themselves worry about the expense. An ELD manufacturer estimates costs from $199 to $2,500 a rig, with a monthly service charge.
Halbert is optimistic that will get cheaper with time, but he points out another concern.
"It's hard to teach old dogs new tricks. Drivers are creature of habits like a lot of people are, they don't like change, they don't like somebody looking over their shoulder. There's some of these electronic devices that have cameras to watch the drivers," said Halbert.
The goal is to move products across the country and keep the roads safe while doing it.
Tuesday a bipartisan group of senators asked the feds to postpone requiring livestock and insect haulers to follow the ELD mandate because they are hauling a live commodity.
Once loaded onto the truck the animals must get to their destination as quickly as possible, and an ELD would increase the number of stops and extend the overall time cattle are on the trailer.
Sen. Jon Tester is part of the group asking for the exemption.