New Hours Of Service

Heading north on I-75 in Kentucky, just south of Lexington. We’re on our last load backup to Waukegan, IL (which means we’ll soon be on our last trip, headed home). I haven’t been of much use this week. I’ve only broken the 600 mile mark once. So most of the driving has fallen to Mara. She hasn’t complained, but she’d certainly have a right to if she did.
Today the new hours of service regulations go into effect. I wonder if the cops will come on like the Gestapo and go for full effect or if they’ll give truck drivers a bit of a grace period to get used to the new rules. Myself, I believe this presents too much of a cash cow for them to pass up. I wonder how many fines will be imposed today.
All in all I suspect the new hours of service rules will hurt the industry as well as the economy. It allows 1 more hour of driving, which will contribute to more fatigue because trucking companies will now expect 11 hours of driving (longer trips for solo drivers). It requires 2 more hours of rest, which will hurt the economy. The new rules allow 1 more hour of driving, but require 2 more hours of rest. You apply that across the board to millions of truck drivers and you’ve just created a whole lot more downtime.
They’ve also shortened the allowable total work period (on duty/driving + on duty/not driving) from 15 hours to 14 hours. It’s going to take longer for everything to get to where it’s going, which will hurt the economy. Especially if truck drivers start bailing out. There have been a lot fewer trucks on the road of late. More than could be accounted for because of new years. A lot of owner/operators don’t believe they’ll be able to make it under the new rules.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m in favor of anything that benefits truck drivers, but I’m not sure the new hours of service do. I think it’s all smoke and mirrors so that the politicians can pretend that they’re doing something to fight the issue of driver fatigue. But as usual I don’t think they understand the problem. These are the same people, the same idiots, who declared that there was plenty of parking for big trucks in the United States and that truckers should just plan their trips better.
Well, I’ve been to all 48 continental states, and I can say, with some authority, that when trucks are piled up in truck stops and rest areas in New Jersey and are overflowing onto exit ramps all up and down the highway, there are rest areas in Wyoming that are practically empty. These idiots do count those empty spaces.
So, no. I don’t expect that the new hours of service regulations will do much to address the issue of driver fatigue. Especially coming from idiots who seem to think that trucking works on the same 9 to 5 clock that they do. If you want to solve the problem of driver fatigue, force trucking companies to pay truckers an hourly wage with overtime pay. Force shippers to pay dearly for trucks that are detained for over 2 hours. Make it so that truck drivers don’t have to drive themselves into the ground to make a living. Prevent trucking companies and shippers to stop forcing them to do so, and the problem of driver fatigue would disappear. But they won’t do that because they know damned well that the effect that would have upon the U.S. economy and domestic prices would be staggering.

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