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The Impact Of Changes On Trucker’s Lives

Jim McCormack

Next, although trucking accidents have reached an all-time low based on 60 years of research, the government decided to change the rules and reduce the number of hours a trucker can spend on the road and they’re trying to reduce them even farther.  The 11-hour rule limits the number of hours a driver can be behind the wheel within a 24-hour period.  The new 34-hour reset rule says you have to be in a home terminal between 1:00 am and 5:00 am in order to ensure that two periods of overnight rest are part of the deal.  The problem with the change is that truckers often keep hours much different from the 9 to 5 types that drive a desk every day.  This can leave freight sitting during the 34 hours when it should be on the road.

 

Associated with this is the 34-hour restart, which prevents the chance of getting two restarts within a week.  Lastly, is the new 8-hour break rule that states you have to take 30 minutes off for every 8 hours on the road.  This is especially problematic if you’re minutes from your delivery site and there are no exceptions allowed.  This also limits the possibility of a mid-shift meal during a run.

 

The Comprehensive Safety Analysis, CSA, system created by FMCSA is new and was designed to get rid of bad drivers.  When caught by the powers that be, bad behavior points are added to a record.  Too many points and a driver becomes a hiring risk.  Since the trucking company also gets dinged for their driver’s behavior, it can negatively impact the company as well as jeopardize the driver’s livelihood.  The problem is that everything creates a ding including warnings such as burnt out tail lights or missing mud-flaps.

 

Lastly are the much cursed electronic logs, which is the industry’s way of preventing cheating that was common in log entries in the past.  Although it makes drivers run legal logs, there’s still a question about how safe it makes drivers on the road.  According to many truckers, the trucking industry’s technological brain-child is inflexible and some state that even these can be altered to look legitimate, although the jury’s still out on this one.  The bigger question is, “How does this improve safety?”

There’s no doubt that legal mandates are changing the industry, but the question remains whether or not it’s safer on the road for truckers.  Most drivers state that continual changes are killing the potential to earn a good income and are a pain-in-the-neck, even though trucking companies seem to be okay with the changes.  All these changes go into effect July 1, 2013, but with fewer cops on the road they may just be a moot point since there won’t be anyone left to enforce them.