CALIFORNIA SENATE PANEL SAYS NO TO BLACK BOX WATCH DOGS

CALIFORNIA SENATE PANEL SAYS NO TO BLACK BOX WATCH DOGS

A bill that would have installed electronic watch dogs in California trucks

went down to defeat in a Senate committee here this week.

Under the legislation, big-rig truckers would be required to stow a black box computer in their vehicles to keep track of their mileage, speed and braking patterns.Truckers' unions and independent truckers were the most vigorous opponents of the bill. The legislation was defeated in the Senate Transportation Committee despite proponents' arguments that its acceptance was necessary to ensure trucking safety.

The measure, S.B. 2253 by Sen. John Seymour, R-Anaheim, would require commercial truckers to carry special computers aboard their rigs to keep track of the drivers' driving habits, similar to equipment currently used by commercial passenger jets.

The information would be made available to the California Highway Patrol for use as a law enforcement tool. The truckers, or their employers, would be required to pay for the cost of purchasing and installing the computers, which could cost several hundred dollars.

This device arouses our concerns because it is an employer's device, installed by the employer. We do not want to see the driver placed in the position of a labor relations problem, said Larry Kurbatoff, a Teamsters union spokesman.

The cost factor is very important, said Helen Dalby, representing independent truckers. If they (the truckers) have to put out the money for the computers, we are very much against it. We can't afford it.