A large procession of slow-moving big rigs caused major traffic tie-ups Friday afternoon on Sacramento freeways, including a near stoppage on Interstate 5 just after noon downtown when a cluster of truck drivers slowed to 5 mph.
The combination convoy and protest is a part of a weeklong national effort called Operation Black and Blue, made up of many independent truckers who complain the federal Electronic Logging Device regulation set to begin in December will unduly burden them financially and give major trucking companies an advantage over smaller independent contractors.
The logging devices will monitor the hours truckers drive to prevent them from driving longer than legally allowed. But owner-operators and owners of small trucking companies told The Fresno Bee at protests earlier this week that the rule will saddle them with increased costs and hinder their earning ability.
On Friday morning, a demonstration was held in Yuba City. Truckers then headed to Fresno at midday, passing through Sacramento in early afternoon, causing problems on Interstate 5, Highway 50 downtown and Highway 99.
Local Caltrans officials said protest organizers had told them that at least 100 big rigs would be part of the convoy.
“We have a bunch of units there now,” CHP spokesman Chad Hertzell said early Friday afternoon. “If they are going 5 miles per hour, that can be rather hazardous. Our main concern is to keep traffic flowing smoothly. Going that slow is dangerous for them and for others.”
According to one California Highway Patrol online report, some truckers briefly stopped their rigs on I-5 downtown and got out. Hertzell said officers had contacted the truckers on the freeway and encouraged them to speed up.
He said Sacramento-area CHP officers escorted the convoy through Sacramento and San Joaquin counties, and handed them over to CHP units in Stanislaus County.
Hertzell said most of the trucks stayed in the right lane and caused minimal traffic delays. As of 5 p.m., Hertzell said the officers he had talked with who were involved in the escort had not issued any citations to the truckers.
Hertzell said the truckers indicated they would be returning to the Yuba City area Friday night.
By law, truckers can work 14 hours a day, with a maximum of 11 hours of driving time. Once the electronic logging device is activated, it stays on for 14 hours straight, protesting truckers told The Fresno Bee, forcing truckers to stop no matter where they are.
“We support truckers’ rights to express their opinions on the upcoming implementation of the federal Electronic Logging Device mandate, including their right to protest,” said Shawn Yadon, California Trucking Association CEO. “We do not condone unsafe and illegal activities, including creating dangerous driving conditions by impeding traffic on busy freeways.”