LOUISVILLE, Ky. — FMCSA Administrator Anne S. Ferro Friday got an earful at the Mid-America Trucking Show here during hearings on possible changes to the Hours of Service.
Hearings were going on from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday to let drivers give their input on HOS: how they’re working, how they’re not, what to change and what to keep. And unlike some others, it was a site where drivers could actually park.
“I’ve been trying to get to one of these [hearings] but I just heard about this one; it’s the first one I’ve been able to come to,” said 30-year driver Guy Wopinski, who’s a flatbed hauler running the 48 states.
Wopinski used to run team with his wife but said she had to quit driving because the inflexibility in the sleeper berth rules were too hard physically on her. “She couldn’t handle it,” said Wopinski. “It was too hard on her not being able to split the time. I’ve been out there 30 years and it’s hard on me.”
Edward Drum, a trucker since 1993, agreed more flexibility is need with the rules. Indeed, flexibility seemed to be the theme of the day as truckers came and went, some listening to the comments and some signing up to give Ferro and FMCSA representatives Larry W. Minor and Charles Medalen a piece of what was on their minds.
Ferro took notes, listened and sometimes asked drivers questions.
Another frequent theme late Friday afternoon was the condition of the interstates. Trying to get rest in the sleeper is defeated by the rough roads out West, said Mary Peterson Norton, an owner-operator for 30 years.
Why make the driver struggle at the wheel when he’s tired when his partner can’t sleep any more in the bunk but can’t take the wheel because of the sleeper berth rule, she said. “It’s too hard to stay in the sleeper berth 10 hours,” she said, adding that with roads out West there are two seasons: “winter and road construction season. You see potholes and later they’ve become bigger potholes.”
Another driver commented that the Western roads “are nasty. You should see what we drivers have to put up with” as far as road conditions, he said.
YRC driver Steve Fields, who has been a captain with America’s Road Team of driver ambassadors, echoed the theme. “We need more flexibility,” he said, adding that the HOS rules don’t necessarily fit with drivers’ biological clocks.
In mid afternoon there were between 50 and 60 drivers attending the listening session but by late afternoon the number had dwindled to about 25.
Dorothy Cox of The Trucker staff may be contacted for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.