Be a minute late, and there will be hell to pay

May 9, 2018

Mark Schremmer


It turns out, my parents were much wiser than I realized.

When I was in high school, my parents imposed a midnight curfew on the weekend. Many of my friends faced the same time restraint.

However, unlike some of my friends’ parents, my mom and dad didn’t hold me to the exact minute. Essentially, 12:05 was the same as midnight.

“We just want you home safe,” my parents would say.

While my friends’ parents surely wanted their kids home safe as well, they took a more strict approach. Show up at 12:01 and there would be hell to pay. Maybe they’d lose their car privileges for a week or two, or be grounded altogether.

Because of this, some of those drives back to my friends’ homes were adventurous, to say the least. I can recall traveling 85 mph down back roads or taking sharp turns on neighborhood streets as we all watched the clock to see the minutes tick toward midnight.

After surviving our mad dash to my friends’ home, I’d then get in my car and take a leisurely, safe stroll to my house. Maybe I’d arrive at 12:08, but it still wasn’t a problem. I followed the spirit of the rule and, most importantly, I was home safe.

My parents knew something that the advocates of a mandatory electronic logging device don’t seem to understand. Putting drivers on a strict down-to-the-minute clock doesn’t improve safety.

Actually, it does the exact opposite.

Jon Osburn, the driver of OOIDA’s tour truck The Spirit, said he has noticed trucks screeching through truck stop parking lots since the ELD mandate went into effect. He said he’s also noticed more trucks pulled over for speeding.

“They feel rushed,” Osburn said. “They feel controlled by that circle-thing on the dash, and they know they can’t be a minute late. I’ve talked to 30-year drivers, and they say they know that they shouldn’t be driving that fast, but they are so worried they’re going to run out of time.”

Because, just like my friends back in high school, they know there will be hell to pay if they’re a minute late.

Now, to be perfectly clear, my parents weren’t complete pushovers. Show up at 12:30, and I better have a pretty good excuse. Show up at 1 or later, and that excuse better be a doozy or I’d be spending my weekends at home for the next several weeks.

But they never punished me for letting the clock expire by a few minutes.

The intention of the curfew was to keep me safe and out of trouble. My parents understood that creating a system that encouraged me to speed home would undermine the whole purpose of the curfew.

Yes. My parents are wise. Now, if we could only find a way to get them hired at the FMCSA.