A News 4 I-Team investigation found federal devices used to force truck drivers into compliance are being blamed for your longer rush hour commute in 2018.

The owners of trucking companies confirm to the I-Team that they are now forced to drive during your rush hour commute, something they avoided in the past.

Paul Roark, the owner of Paul Roark and Son Trucking, said the traffic effect was almost immediate when new devices, called electronic logging devices, were required to be in trucks driving long distances at the beginning of 2018.

“It was like you flipped a switch, it was overnight, traffic went from being mediocre in the daytime to being heavy. All over the country, not just Nashville,” Roark said.

The owners of trucking companies told the News4 I-Team that it all has to do with how they’re now being tracked.

When truck drivers turn the key each day, their clock starts ticking; federal law reads they can only be behind the wheel eleven continuous hours once they begin, with one thirty-minute break, and it had to be reflected on paper logs.

The goal is to avoid tired drivers.

Many truck drivers avoided driving during morning or evening rush hours and made up for those lost hours late at night to reach their destination on time.

But starting in 2018, paper logs are no longer allowed.

Electronic logging devices now track trucks driving long distances, meaning there’s no way to avoid a continuous eleven-hour drive.

It also means no more lengthy breaks during rush hours, as the devices can instantly prove that long delays were taken during the day and were made up late at night.

“If I start this morning, I can't take off in the middle of the day and start again. I have to keep going until my time runs out,” said Jim Jernigan, owner of Jernigan Trucking.

Jernigan said on your next rush hour commute, look and see how many trucks are around you.

To see what the difference would be if trucks were largely absent from the early evening commute, the News4 I-Team counted trucks driving during ten minutes.

The result: 83 trucks drove by.

Adrienne Gildea, deputy executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance, is working the federal government to help truck drivers comply with the new electronic tracking devices.

Gildea said the hours of when a truck driver can be on the road have not changed, the only thing different now is that they are forced to comply with the rules and cannot alter logs.

Gildea did say it’s possible that more trucks driving during rush hour is an unintended consequence.

“It's possible that by forcing them to comply with the requirements they're now driving at different times,” Gildea said.

If pulled over by state police or other law enforcement, and their electronic logging devices show long delays during the day after their drive has started and then longer travels at night, truck drivers can face stiff fines that can cost thousands of dollars.

Copyright 2018 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Chief Investigative Reporter

Jeremy Finley is the News4 I-Team's Chief Investigative Reporter. He has won multiple Midsouth Emmy and Edward R. Murrow Awards.

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