This blog is about Hours of Service which the professional driver has to deal with everyday. Like most drivers, company drivers and owner operators, changing this rule affects us all. Every few years the Federal Motor Carriers Safety Association (FMCSA) decides to change the rules, they say will help the trucking industry. Before the driver can get used to the new rule, it is changed again. When a groups like The Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways Foundation (CRASH), The Truck Safety Coalition, and The Parents Against Tired Truckers (P.A.T.T.), get information on an accident involving a truck, they automatically think the truck driver is at fault. In most cases, when their accidents, the police will give the truck driver a ticket without knowing the full details of the accident.
Not all accidents are caused by tired truck drivers, some of them could have come off a 10 hour break and has been driving 2 hours or less. Accidents happen because someone, whether it be the trucker or the person in the car, has made a mistake. Because the truck is so much bigger, it is automatically thought of as being at fault. In 1998, I had an accident by rear ending a car that ducked between me and the truck in front of me, to get off the exit. Because it was done so fast, the car slammed on breaks causing me to hit them, consequently, I was charged with that accident even though a witness told them what happened. I was charged with following too close! I was not tired and my logbook was legal.
The new rules come into effect on July 1, 2013 and every driver and company needs to get used to them. It states that you must start your hours reset between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. If you calculate this right, the driver is forced to take a consecutive 48 hours off instead of 34 hours. This time must start on the weekend. In actuality, it means that truck drivers will work a 5 day work week, Monday thru Friday. If the FMCSA keeps this up, the owner operator will be gone. Every company will be running regionally instead of cross country, that leaves the owner operator out. Companies will not need them because they will be able to move their own freight. Shippers on the other hand will have a hard time keeping up with the cost of shipping their freight, unless they use a company that have locations across the U.S. or use a company that have team drivers. In some cases, one trailer could be switched out up to 4 times before it gets to it destination. How many shippers are going to go for that?
It is also stated in the new rule that a driver must take a 30 minute break after 8 consecutive hours of driving, most drivers do that anyway. The driver just has to make sure they put it on the logbook. Making so many changes to the rules and regulations, discourages a lot of drivers from staying in the industry. Drivers that has been in the industry as long as I have are looking into leaving because of the many changes, we can’t keep up! People that are coming in for the first time don’t know what it was like before all the new rules. I hope as a professional truck driver that the rules will remain this way for a while.