Day: Thursday, October 11, 2007

Turn Back the Clock

No, I am not talking about Daylight Savings Time and turning back our clocks. What I meant is that I want our elected officials in Washington DC to start listening to industry experts and ask them for some ideas about the Hours of Service dilemma that has taken the trucking industry and our federal court system by storm.

For the second time in two weeks, I have had to either turn down a load or re-adjust my working day to accommodate some ill advised, poorly thought of idea for how the nations truck drivers should carry out their working day. If the current law for the Hours of Service is upheld, I hope that the FMCSA takes a hard look at allowing us to extend our 14 hour day by taking breaks or splitting our log book into two, true driving periods as was the case before the new rules went into place a few years ago. Before, we could drive 6 hours, take a 5 hour break, then drive another 4 hours to complete our driving day. As you can see, the above example would put drivers over the 14 hour limit under the current rules.

I know that we can split our driving time now, just as long as we don’t go over that 14 hour rule in place right now. The reason I prefer the old system is simply because not every day is the same and driving conditions vary from day to day. Because a shipper had an early loading appointment time and the receiver had a late unload appointment time, I was unable to complete a full day of driving. I had to shut down after 8.5 hours on duty at least two times this week.

For instance, yesterday, I had 5 drops at stores that were less than 7 miles apart from each other. The total mileage for yesterday was 141 miles. If I were paid by the mile, I would have made only about $60 or so for working a 14 hour shift! If the old Hours of Service were in place, I could have placed myself in the sleeper for at least 4 hours during my deliveries. The stores we deliver to have their own appointment times and I have to sit for long periods of time occasionally between appointment times.

I guess what I am trying to say is that my job falls in the cracks between a long haul driver and a local driver. I can’t put all of my deliveries on a straight 14 hours local work day, and I can’t split my sleeper berth time during my long breaks throughout the day.

Tomorrow, I’ll have to drive 2.5 hours to get back to the yard, then I have a 4 stop delivery schedule that will take me late into tomorrow night. Because I can’t split my hours, I’ll have to shut down early tomorrow night and have to take a later run on Friday night in order to complete a 10 hour break. For the first time in four years, I can see that the current Hours of Service hurts my bottom line and what I am able to bring home for a paycheck.

I guess it is time again to re-evaluate my position and seriously consider if I can afford to continue my career as a truck driver. Mister or Madam Congressperson, turn back the clock and re-evaluate the current Hours of Service Law!