Truckers: Be heard on the proposed HOS changes

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I’m known as the king of a few things. The Evil Overlord calls me the King of Cheese. I’m guessing it’s because of my love of Sharp Cheddar. Yea. That’s gotta be it. I’m also the King of Justification. With enough thought, I can make any of my stupid decisions seem like absolute brilliance. The third is the King of Procrastination. I can usually find a good reason to put just about anything off until the last second.

Well, today I’m proud to say that I overcame my procrastinating tendency. Instead of waiting until the last day to submit my comments on the proposed HOS (Hours of Service) changes, I waited until the next to the last day. Yes, I know… I rule. So have you let yourself be heard yet? If you haven’t, tomorrow (March 4th) is the last day to get your sorry butt over to the FMCSA Web site to let them know how you feel. (UPDATE: The last day to comment has been extended to May 23)

When you reach the comment box, you’ll notice that there’s a 2000 character limit. In my typical blow-hard style, I hit the keys 1998 times. It was kinda like a giant Twitter text box. You always find yourself needing a few more characters than they give you. Too bad they didn’t have a HOS-longer feature.

Anyway, here’s what I had to say to the folks who are put on this earth to torment us truckers.

First of all, I think you should listen to the 122 Representatives that are trying to get you to abandon any changes to the current HOS rules. Fatalities caused by trucks are the lowest they’ve been in 60 years & the roads are safer.

Please leave the 11 hours of driving intact. The carriers have already shown that a new 10-hour limit would force them to put more trucks on the road to cover the same amount of freight. More trucks, more accidents. That’s the law of percentages.

The 14-hour rule is almost useless now. It’s not that often that we are delayed at a customer for 8 hours so we can extend the 14-hour day. Take today for example. I used 45 minutes for pre-trip inspection, fueling, and dropping/hooking a trailer at a customer. After I stopped to do a brief workout, eat, and shower, I had pretty much used up the 3 hours extra that the 14 hours provides.

If you change the rule to a hard 14 that can’t be extended with an 8-hour sleeper berth, it will be entirely useless. The main reason truckers bump up against the current 14 is because of long wait times at shippers and consignees. As you can see from above, I was nearly up against my 14 without any loading/unloading time. If I have to wait even 2 hours to get loaded, I now have to decide if I’m going to skip my workout and shower to make use of my full 11 hours of driving. I’ll probably be eating fast food too. How is any of that healthy for the driver?

Next up is the proposed change to the 34-hour rule. I wish here that the people who regulated our industry actually understood how trucking works. You may have a normal work day, but trucker’s bodies don’t abide by the circadian rhythm. We may drive all night on Monday and all day on Tuesday. We can’t control when we don’t have loads and therefore, we can’t specify when we need our 34 hours to start. The rule is useful as it stands. Change it and you may as well get rid of it all together.

I pray that you all think like truckers when you vote.

There you have it. It’s not perfect, but I think it gets the point across. And in so few words. Yet another reason to be proud of myself.

I’m asking everyone that reads this to head over and give the FMCSA a piece of your mind… even if you don’t have that many pieces to spare. And remember truckers, your truck always has a better chance of getting fixed correctly when you’re nice to the mechanic; so no cursing at the clueless rule-makers. Just don’t expect too much. Even if your truck gets fixed properly, you can always expect a big ol’ glob of grease on your driver’s seat. Some things will never change. Unlike our current Hours of Service I fear.

*Please give this post a rating and leave a comment (this means you too, @raysunshine77)*

 

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About Todd McCann

I've been truckin' since 1997. Sometimes I love it and sometimes I hate it. Speaking of being fickle, my wife, affectionately known as The Evil Overlord was my co-driver for 9 of those years. And yet somehow, I'm still alive. ;-) I write a blog about a trucker's life on the road and anything else that tickles my innards. And I take myself very, very seriously. If you're still reading this, you can find me on: Twitter | | About Trucking Jobs
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6 Responses to Truckers: Be heard on the proposed HOS changes

  1. hurtis geoghagan says:

    I SAY CHANGE BACK TO THE 10 HOURS OF DRIVING AND MAKE
    MANDORTY PAY PER MILE STARTING AT LEAST .50CPM
    SO YOU CAN MAKE LIVING OUT THERE
    AND 24 HOUR RESEAT
    AND PAY FOR YOUR TIME SITTING IN DOCKS
    AFTERE TWO HOURS AROUND $15.OO HOURS FOR EVERY HOUR AFTERE
    FINE THE COMPANYS $50.000 DOLLAR PER TRUCK TO GET THERE POINT ACROSS

    Reply
    • Todd McCann says:

      Most of that sounds good to me, but I wonder why you’d want to reduce the driving time back down to 10 hours? I’m happy with the current 11-hour rule.

      Reply
  2. eric blevins says:

    34 hr restart is crap all together make it at least 48 we would like a little time at home my God by the time you catch up on every thing at home you have little rest time before your out the door . you drive all nite to get home up all day at the house with whatever..then by the time you lay down or take your wife out to eat your dispatcher is worrying the crap out of you when you can leave!

    We are working to support our families sure as hell not for the thrill or prestige of being considered trucking trash! Ive been back out on the road for 3 yrs now after being a dispatcher for 3 years and the changes Ive seen are for the worse! Traffic is worse because every driver is working days instead of nights [mostly] the truckstops are the valley of death because every driver is trying to shave off every second he can to stay in his 14 hr window

    Its a damn madhouse Ive got alot more rest on the old HOS rule than i ever got under the 14. at least before you were not so pushed and if you needed a 1 or 2 hr power nap no problem .Now its ROOT HOG OR DIE!!! Id love to have the opportunity to take a short nap as before but the rule implies that if you want rest you sacrifice time and miles to do so…

    Its not about safety at all but money and commerce! If it was about safety as they say, the truck owners would be held alot more accountable on who they put on the road and when let them weed out bad and unsafe drivers or at least take a bigger part in this! you start hitting them in the wallet you ll see things change instead they are hitting drivers with everything they got only result is a driver having to push even harder to cover the fine on him last paycheck…

    The fine imposed is a drop in the bucket to some companies hit them hard!! and you wont have near the problems out the door! Safety starts at the terminal not after your tired ass is out in traffic!!!!

    Reply
    • Todd McCann says:

      Eric,

      I love it when someone writes in with a strong opinion. Love it, love it, love it. Now having said that, I’ll say that I agree with you on all points… save one.

      I don’t think changing the 34-hour rule to 48 hours would have the effect that you think it would. In fact, I think if you change it to 48 hours, you may as well get rid of the reset altogether. Here’s the problem. The 34-hour restart isn’t a requirement and it isn’t a right. It’s a luxury. I’ve been told to pick up many loads when I was 30-32 hours into a reset. Arguing with dispatch sometimes works, but only if the load can be picked up later. If it needs to be picked up now, you just wasted 30-32 hours. Nothing can be done about it.

      Also, just as the current 34-hour rule doesn’t guarantee you’ll get 34 hours at home, 48 wouldn’t either. Many times I’m sitting at a truck stop while my 34 hours is counting down. If I’ve got to sit in my driver’s seat and stare at truckers for 48 hours… well that would just plain suck.

      Todd

      Reply
  3. Chain-Breaker says:

    I have to disagree, I’m delaed at customers every day by at least 6 to 8 hours a day. But I drove for a small company and we live load and live unload every day. I would like to see the drive time increase to at least 14 hours a day and a 24 hour restart.
    What gets me is that doctors have no regulated hours at all, and work well over 1200 hours a week. Those are the ones that need to be regulated.
    Truck drivers? Keep screwing with the trucking industry and sink the economy even further. The trucking industry can make or nreak this country and the law makers need to realize that NOW!!!!

    Reply
    • Todd McCann says:

      Yes, I realize that many truckers are held up a lot more than I am. I’m guessing that you’d agree that it’s probably the worst problem that the trucking industry is facing today. Until they get that sorted out, the HOS rules will always screw the driver.

      As much as I love your idea of a 14-hour driving day and a 24-hour restart (I think both are reasonable), we both know that’s never gonna happen. I hope I’m wrong, but I’m not going to hold my breath. Although I do have to say that I was pleasantly surprised when the last HOS rules change bumped our drive time from 10 to 11 hours. That was, until I noticed that they also bumped up the sleeper time from 8 hours to 10 hours. Typical. We gain one hour and lose two.

      Don’t even get me started on doctor’s hours. Not only can they work a 36-hour shift, but they can also hop in their RV’s and drive to Hawaii when they get off work. Quick! Distract me before I go on!

      I agree that truck drivers are the backbone of our economy. Unfortunately, until we can all stand together, we’re going to continue to stoop like a little old lady with osteoporosis.

      Reply

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