A lawsuit in the U.S. is shining a light on ELDs that can be manipulated to sidestep hours-of service rules.
The lawsuit filed by a Tennessee trucker accuses shipping giant Amazon and one of its freight partners of ‘coercing’ him into exceeding hours of service rules for weeks in the lead-up to a crash which injured him.
Driver Timothy Weakley filed the civil complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington on Jan. 15 against shipping giant Amazon and one of its freight partners – Chicago-based AAA Freight – claiming they coerced him into working in excess of hours of service. Weakley claims he was injured after crashing into a concrete barrier, according to Land Line magazine.
The lawsuit claims that AAA would “routinely edit” Weakley’s electronic logging device to make it look like he was operating within hours of service regulations “so that law enforcement or the Department of Transportation would be none the wiser.” The complaint also alleges that Amazon knew – or should have known – about the tampering because it requires its drivers to have an app on their phone that tracks their movements “down to the millisecond” 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The complaint claims that when Weakley tried to complain he was told by his supervisor that the company sometimes has to bend the rules to appease Amazon, and that if he couldn’t do it he should find a new line of work.
The lawsuit alleges a repeated pattern of coercion led to Weakley working multiple shifts prior to the crash in excess of 19, 21, and 25 consecutive hours, in violation of federal regulations.
On Oct. 29, Weakley allegedly told AAA he was in an “extreme state of fatigue” due to the sheer lack of sleep,” and that he planned to take his 34-restart to recover.
But the lawsuit claims that Weakley only got 14 hours into his rest break before he was once again dispatched to pick up a load, and that he was given an ultimatum – either pick up the load or return his truck and trailer and find a new job. Weakley agreed to take the load, which required delivery in Cleveland on the morning of Oct. 31.
The concern with writable ELDs is being specifically addressed in Canada, which will require all ELDs in Canada to be certified for safeguarding against tampering by June 2021. Transport Canada had been consulting with CTA, provincial enforcement agencies, committed ELD suppliers and other industry stakeholders to make the additional safety improvements meant to maintain the integrity of the hours of service rule. The Canadian Trucking Alliance says this version of the ELD requirement will catapult Canada ahead of the U.S. in terms of highway safety and compliance.
Weakley’s lawsuit claiming coercion seeks damages in excess of $75,000, for medical expenses, loss of revenue, and loss of his tractor.
Full story here.