Although many, if not most, drivers are unable to attend the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s listening sessions around the country to get opinions on Hours of Service regulations, it doesn’t mean they aren’t making their opinions known. Most cited a need for flexibility, and the problem with having to meet unrealistic delivery schedules was also noted.
“I liked the old way, where you could break up the sleeper berth and the off-duty time,” owner-operator Doug Bannon of La Paz, Ind., told The Trucker recently at a Central Arkansas truck stop. “If you get held up getting loaded or getting unloaded, you’re messed up. I like the restart — it’s not necessary, but I like it. But the whole 14-hour deal, they need to fix that.”
Flexibility to break up hours was also important to Neal Presad, a company driver from Toronto, Ontario. “The way it is now, it’s OK, but it’s hard to do enough in a day to satisfy your dispatch and your customer. So if they want to make it less hours, that will hurt the whole system,” said Presad.
“Getting in a break is a key element. If there’s a lot of time wasted, you can’t make it up and the 14-hour window is shattered. If you drive after that, you’re jeopardizing your reputation and your company’s reputation. So to break it up would be ideal. Maybe go back to the way it was.”
“The idea of a rest period, though a voluntary one, is a wonderful idea,” wrote team drivers Elizabeth and Richard Reilman.
“I like the concept of a power nap; [it] is something that a lot of drivers do already. I have had days where a short nap has done me a world of good even though I have had a good night’s rest. The idea of a mandatory rest period, that is a little bit scary.
“The main reason for that is that if you force drivers to take this and they don't feel that it is necessary they will falsify their logs and there are a lot of driver's out there that can say that they have always logged legal, there are some that have never had to falsify a log but there a lot out there that can't say that.”
Curt Greenleaf agreed: “Rest periods should depend on the individual as all people are different in what they require,” he wrote The Trucker.
“Requiring a break when someone is not tired could cause them to tire later in the shift. … Taking a rest period should allow you to lengthen your day. But they shouldn’t be forced.
“Trying to sleep when you’re not tired doesn’t make sense. I find that the most dangerous time is when the driver is forced to continue by dispatch in order to meet an unrealistic delivery time. The current HOS are fine but an extra hour here and there borrowed from a shorter day would also be beneficial.”
Deal with the shippers and pay on actual miles traveled, wrote another driver: “Most carriers get load information three weeks ahead of time to deliver. I think it’s criminal that they force us to move it at the last minute.
“Carriers calculate driving time by using short miles — I'm dispatched on 500 miles but it is 625 miles so right off I am 2.5 hours behind. So do I speed or steal from sleeper berth [time]”?
It was also suggested that FMCSA “Instead of ‘fixing’ a whole industry, fix the true things that are broken, the bad drivers and companies that have broken the rules on a regular basis. The FMSCA is approaching this with a shot gun approach and not like a sniper.”
“The whole purpose of having teams is that the truck continues to roll, except for getting their loads, breaks and fuels, and getting to the destination,” wrote team driver Ray Brostean. “Sleeper berth time should be able to be split into two periods — for a total of 10 hours, but not less than five hours at any time.”
Barb Kampbell of The Trucker staff may be reached to comment at email@example.com.