Truckers Gather in Tea To Protest New Federal Mandate

TEA, S.D. – Truckers protested the federal government mandating all truckers use electronic logging devices across the country Monday.

”The government is mandating that I need to have what we are considering an ankle bracelet,” said Kevin Steichen, a trucker.

Truckers currently log the hours they work by hand on paper, but many lawmakers say it’s time for ELDs. These devices will monitor and record hours digitally.

”They think we’re outlaws and that’s the furthest thing from the truth,” said Steichen. “I am far from an outlaw.”

Truckers can legally work 14 hours per day. Currently, they can break that up that time however they want to, but with ELD’s, they worry they’ll be racing against the clock once it starts.

“If we were to be out of hours an hour or two hours away from our destination with live animals, we need to take an 10 hour break,” said Minnesota trucker Kelly Leuthold.

Many lawmakers across the country support the mandate, including those picked by the Tump administration.

The American Trucking Associations say that federal data shows an ELD reduced the truck crash rate by 11.7% and reduced hours-of-service violations by 50% when compared to users of paper logs.

“Like I usually drive 62 to 65 out on the road and that’s because of the fuel cost and everything like that and it’s a lot safer anyway,” said Brookings trucker Tom Kuechenmeister. “When I got that ELD, I’m sitting there watching that clock count down on the dash and the first month I found myself running closer to 70 to 75.”

Those against this new mandate have proposed a bill that would delay the mandate for another two years, and it’s backed strongly by South Dakota Congresswoman Kristi Noem.  Fewer nap breaks and quicker speeds are creating safety concerns for these small business folks.

“My kids and my wife mean so much to me,” said Steichen.  “If I can be safe and make it home, that’s gonna be the big thing.”

For now, opponents say time is running out to keep the mandate from hitting the books, and the road.  They have until December 18 to overturn the mandate.

”They’re not out there for me,” said Steichen. “Nobody’s fighting for me. They don’t want to hear my voice.”

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