Even though trucking is the safest it has ever been as far as accidents go.
Advocates for safer highways are still attacking the hours-of-service in which limits the hours per day a truck driver can work/drive – but that is only a small part of the problem.
Advocates for safer highways such as Truck Safety Coalition, Public Citizen and Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety suggest to FMCSA that they believe truck drivers are driving too many hours.
The advocates for highway safety seem to think that because drivers are paid by the mile that they are pushing the 11 hour driving limit to make more money. While this is most certainly true as most drivers are not paid to sit for hours waiting to load and unload – but sitting on duty not driving takes hours away from their work time. Truck drivers are allowed to drive for 11 hours – but only allowed to be on duty for 14 hours total per ten hours spent in the sleeper-berth.
Here is an easier explanation: A truck driver starts his or her day at 06:00 AM 14 hours later or 8:00 PM that night – no matter what that truck by law must be parked and the driver in the sleeper. No matter if that driver had to sit for ten hours at a dock not getting paid waiting to either load or unload in which that means the driver could only drive for one hour. That does not make for a good pay check.
The highway safety advocates want driver’s hours they are allowed to drive to be reduced to just 8 hours from 11. Here is an excerpt from thetrucker.com article in which they ask Jackie Gillan vice-president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety to explain their recommendation.
Advocates believes that the science is clear and convincing: excessive working hours, especially in a high-risk occupation like truck driving, promotes sleep deprivation, fatigue, low alertness, and increased frequency of performance errors that lead to crashes, injuries, and deaths. The current rule needs to be reformed to provide truck drivers a HOS regime that demands far fewer hours of work and driving from them and provides them much more time for rest and recovery. This is particularly important for truck driver health, which suffers due to the inordinate demands of long hours of work and driving, as well as loading and unloading cargo. Removing the last sweat shops in America is long overdue.
Reducing the hours that a truck driver is allowed to drive is not the answer. The advocates think that since truck drivers can drive 11 hours per day that they push this limit beyond in order to make more money. As this may be true for some owner operators – as they are getting screwed on loads and need to make up miles in order to survive. Company drivers drive beyond the allowed driving limit because of the lack of parking – and because their jobs are threatened to get the load delivered on time.
Some companies will charge a driver for a late load. Or they will threaten the driver with his or her job if the load is late. All too often drivers are punished by companies for things beyond the drivers control such as sitting at a dock waiting to load for hours (not getting paid) and then demand the driver to still deliver the load on time or face the consequences of a reprimand/fine or job loss.
If the advocates for highway safety want to get a change that would be good for safety and truck drivers – then advocate to do away with “just in time deliveries” an inventory control system that replenishes and delivers products to a retailer just as a current supply is depleted. And for the change of pay from per mile to per hour plus over-time. Reducing the hours a driver can legally drive without a change in pay and “just in time delivery” will only make things worse.
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