My part time driver, a semi retired guy who I brought over with me from when we did the Holbrook relay as hourly employees, quit without notice this Sunday past leaving me to do his turn without having slept, so I started the week by being up 48 hours straight. I had a sleep deficit all week that I'm only recouping from now that the week is over.
On one on level I'm not devastated by the guy quitting. He wasn't a forthright paragon of virtue, in my estimation. He was pretty lazy and he was hard on the truck and caused some expensive repairs owing to his inexperience and tendency to hurry. When he drove, it cost me from $30 to $50 more in fuel. Whenever the department of transportation was doing anything -- its annual roadside inspection week, or implementing new logging rules, or having its annual brake inspection blitz -- anything that might strike fear into the heart of the typical truck driver, who normally doesn't inspect the vehicle before driving off or doesn't know how to adjust the brakes and doesn't really care, he had to take his mother to Mexico.
Not that he wasn't a fairly typical truck driver or that I expect to find someone to replace him who is much different, and not that I was that much different when all the responsibility for all those things wasn't on me as the owner, but in some ways I'm glad he's gone.
On the other hand it causes me a significant logistical problem, and I've had to advertise for the position and start interviewing people and testing their driving, all of which I'd been loathe to do having neither the time nor inclination for it.
I can actually handle all the regular nightly runs by myself, but I let the other driver do one of them because in most weeks that's all there was for him to do. It's only when there's the extra Truth or Consequences or Las Vegas delivery during the day that I really need someone else. If I get caught doing that myself, just one time, and still doing the overnight run, I'm in trouble with the state and federal authorities. I'll be in danger of having my operating authority revoked, and, my insurance will skyrocket.
As I blogged about earlier, the state police in New Mexico, who are also the transportation police and run the weigh stations, have installed license plate reading cameras around the state. These are hooked up to computers that track the movement of trucks. (At least trucks. The system has the capability to track all motor vehicle traffic but I know only about the trucking part. The Albuquerque Journal has done a couple of articles revealing that the Albuquerque Police Department also has these cameras and uses them to spy on all of us. Also, see the graphic at the bottom of this page.)
What these cameras mean to me is that it's much more difficult now to falsify (using the terms they use when they write out the ticket) a log book.
As I enter the New Mexico weigh station on the west side of Gallup every night, I drive past a set of these cameras, and past various other cameras, and over some scales embedded in the pavement, and finally between two big panels behind which is equipment that can detect radiation, and can x-ray the inside of the trailer. Finally I pass a little elevated booth where sits a handsome state police officer, who is monitoring two laptop computer screens. The booth is chock full of electronic paraphernalia and multi-colored lights and gadgets that are readouts for all the various monitors. The handsome officer usually waves me on by. If I look in my rear view mirror as I pull away, I can see, on one of his laptops, a readout that looks a lot like one of these:
These are screen shots from the "how-to" manual for using the license plate reading camera system the New Mexico State Police have, that was included in the 247 pages of documents (one big pdf file) the state police gave to the ACLU after the ACLU filed open records requests all over the country about license plate reader systems, and about policies for their use.
Interestingly, the manual reveals the capabilities of the system by telling how to use each of its functions. These screen shots, according to the manual, show where my truck has been photographed and when, going back in time from just a few moments ago and into the distant past. If I'm ever asked to produce my log book, which happens once or twice a year by design and intermittently as spot checking, and if this readout doesn't match up with where and when my log books says I've been at any time from a few moments ago going back into the distant past, I'm in trouble.
According to the manual the system can also be set up to automatically do a search for a vehicle through any records the state police has access to, and thereby a search for me personally or for anyone who's been associated with my vehicle like my part time driver. If you've been keeping up with the NSA domestic spying story, that means the record of just about everything you've ever done and are doing now.
Incidentally, the state responded to the ACLU's open records request by saying there are no policies in place for their camera system's use, which means that the state, and the private company that operates the system, can use the data that's being collected any way it wants to. It can be, and probably is, shared with the NSA and Israel and whoever (see also graphic at bottom of this page.) It can be, and probably is, sold to advertisers and other corporations by the company that sold the system to the state and operates it for them.
Why Experienced Drivers Are Logging Off And How The DOT Is Screwing With Capitalism
My headlines talks bout the state police, but in their defense, they have nothing to do with writing log book rules. They only enforce them.
It's the federal DOT that has been busy trying to prove that they can engineer highway safety through new logging restrictions. But as I demonstrated this week, you can drive while you're half asleep and still be perfectly legal according your log book.
The new rules are the federal DOT's way of trying to force every driver into a 24 hour "circadian cycle." But in doing so they don't allow you to stop and take a nap. You have to keep going so you stay on the 24 hour cycle.
I'll try to explain. In a given day you are allowed to be "on duty" for 14 hours. This "on duty" time includes your driving -- 11 hours are allowed -- plus any loading and unloading, fueling, etc.
It used to be that when you went "off duty" in the log book, the 14 hour clock stopped. So you could stop and eat, or stop and sleep for a few hours, and it wasn't counted against your 14 hours. You could get back in the truck and then continue with your 14 hours "on duty."
But now your 14 hours includes all the time you take for yourself. If you stop to eat, or to take a nap, the 14 hour clock keeps ticking. Once it starts, you have to go off duty 14 hours later.
Here is what a driver's day looks like in a log book covering two days. Note that after an extended break (off duty line in the center) of from 7:15 a.m. until 6:30 p.m., he went on duty. Thise is when the 14 hour clock starts ticking. Here, he is on duty (either driving, on duty not driving, or off duty) until 7:15 a.m. The legal limit would be until 10:30 a.m. But what if his company had only been able to find a load that couldn't be picked up until sometime after 10:30? Under the old rules, he could have taken a nap, stopped his 14 hour clock, and still picked up the load.
Consider also that as he is driving with a load, say at midnight, a load that doesn't have to be delivered until 4 p.m. the next day, if he gets tired, he can't stop, because the 14 hour clock will keep running and make him run out of hours before he reaches the destination.
The new rules might sound good in theory and might work if all the deliveries and pickups were at regularly scheduled times, but they are not and will never be. They can't be. The world would have to end, or Capitalism would have to cease to exist.
Factories and other places where all the people work 8 to 4 might be able to schedule all their pickups and deliveries at one time. They might have to build some more docks and hire some more fork truck drivers because all the truck show up at once, but it's conceivable. But many firms have two or three shifts and deliveries and pickups around the clock. The Wal Mart warehouse down in Los Lunas, for example, has trucks coming and going 24/7.
Groceries are the biggest consumer product there is -- it's the one thing that everybody buys and buys a lot of -- and it all moves by truck. The can of baked bean that came from a plant in Arkansas or Tennessee where beans are processed was in one bulk shipment of 22 pallets stacked with cases of beans containing 20 or 30 cans each. At the grocery warehouse that shipment gets unloaded with a fork truck and stored on shelves and later on is broken down into the numbers of cases each store needs.
Grocery warehouses are busy places. They have incoming trucks, from the plants, and outgoing trucks, to the individual stores. They want their incoming, i.e., bulk, deliveries -- the loads of baked beans from Tennessee and paper towels from Portland and corn from Indianapolis and everything else in a grocery store -- to be there between midnight and 4 a.m. The truck driver bringing in the baked beans or paper towels will have an appointment during that time.
After that truck gets unloaded, one of the grocery chain's truck is waiting to back into the same dock, to be loaded with the things one of the chain's stores will sell that day. The fork truck driver who just unloaded the bulk shipment loads the truck. The same people working in the warehouse who counted and stored the bulk shipment -- people called Hi-Lo drivers, pickers and checkers -- also get the new shipments ready to go.
In other words, one crew of fork truck drivers, hi-lo drivers, pickers and checkers can do both incoming and outgoing shipping tasks. And only one set of docks is required for both sets of trucks. And the warehouse is set up -- the logistics of the movement of things within the warehouse are designed in such a way -- that one set of docks can be used, not two sets that would be separated by some distance.
Say what you will about Capitalism, and I say a lot about it, but the way the grocery warehouse system is set up (combined with the way profit is distributed under Capitalism) is the reason a can of beans costs $1 and not $2 or $3.
If trucking is able to adopt to the new "24 hour circadian cycle" logging rules, which will mean buying a lot of new trucks and hiring a lot of new drivers at a cost of millions, all of which will sit idle much the time, so also will each grocery warehouse have to accommodate both incoming and outgoing shipments at once, and hire an additional set of fork truck drivers, Hi-lo drivers, pickers and checkers each, at a cost of millions, and will have to install a new set of docks so both incoming and outgoing trucks can dock at the same time, at a cost of millions.
The way trucking is set up, which also is for efficiency's sake, in keeping with Capitalism's disparate and around the clock needs, the driver who had that 4 a.m. grocery warehouse delivery will then be sent to pick up a load that might have a 4 p.m. delivery three days later, or a 10 a.m. delivery two days later. The pickup and delivery times will always be different from load to load because it's all part of a big system called Capitalism that always seeks efficiency. By maintaining some flexibility, which the old 14 hour rules would allow, trucking companies were able to adapt to that system, and could charge lower rates. Grocery warehouses could use one crew for incoming and outgoing, and on and on.
So much for your 14 hour circadian cycle. The old logging rules developed over decades of practice and took into account that the business world isn't on a 24 hour "circadian cycle." After unloading at a grocery warehouse, you could go and do your next pickup at 8 a.m., then take a nap, and then keep going, but under the new rules you have to keep driving even when you're tired. It's nuts.
Final Screen Shot
For anyone who might be interested, also from the instruction manual for the license plate reader system used by the New Mexico State Police (which are also in use by the Bernalillo County Sheriff's Department and the Albquerque Police Department.)
On the left are "roadside sensors." The cameras, 13 in New Mexico. Most are at weigh stations and across the highway from them to catch people going both ways.
Note, on the right, how the system is connected, to NCIC, SAFER, and PRISM.
NCIC - This is the National Crime Information Center, which is run by the FBI. Whenever police on patrol or in the office look up someone's record or a vehicle's record, this is where they look.
SAFER - The US Department of Transportation's new system for rating trucking companies according to their safety records and for tracking them. (You can look up my company at SAFER by entering my USDOT number, 2381097. I'm too new to have a safety rating yet.)
PRISM - A web search for PRISM brings up various things those letters can stand for. I don't see any that might plausibly be hooked up to a state's license plate reader system, except one, the secret NSA program for spying on US citizens that was revealed by Edward Snowden, and that I have written about repeatedly.
Facial recognition technology is already here. Whether it's part of these systems I don't know, but it's coming. It's in use in some places. It's been used to pick an individual out of a demonstration of thousands.