It looks like D.C. is now hitting the snooze button on the newer sleep requirement rules for drivers. Congress voted earlier in December on a $1.1 trillion plan to rollback spending by amending regulations for clean water, banks, and amount of rest required for truckers.
When it comes to the topic of hours-of-service, the debate rolls on. Despite such a huge whirlwind the media saw promoting stricter revisions to trucking policies, recently, congress seems to be saying that they want our nation’s 18-wheelers to do keep rolling on anyway. Now, it seems that our government wishes to suspend the rules that were just issued a year ago. This means truck drivers could be driving up to 82 hours a week.
Certainly for any driver, particularly owner-operators who get paid for the number of deliveries and not by the hour, having to stop for longer durations is leaving paychecks a little light. However, more than ever we were seeing sleep regulations in the spotlight after comedian Tracy Morgan’s van was hit by a Wal-Mart tractor trailer last June. The cause of the accident was ruled a consequence of sleep deprivation.
But after so much ado about forcing more hours for rest for America’s truckers, why would they suspend the rules now? Well, it seems that now our politicians may be succumbing to some heavy pressure brought on by trucking corporations….at least that’s what some safety watchdogs are saying. In fact, it was only in 2013 that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration lowered the number of hours allowed to drive per week to 70 (a 12 hours decrease.) Now, the rules have become even less strict.
Hours-of-service regulations are nothing new, but these days a lot more people are getting involved in trying to find the best solution. How can we maintain safety on the road without sacrificing the economic needs of a nation reliant on products that only truckers can transport.
It’s easy for the government and safety organizations to force laws or take them away. But when it really comes down to it, shouldn’t it be the drivers themselves who are able to construct the best course of action in the debate? After all, who better to know how much rest truckers need than–truckers, right?
Some truck drivers feel that imposing longer regulations for rest doesn’t necessarily even mean that time will be spent sleeping. In fact, the loss of time can cause stress worrying about how to get to drop-offs in time and can cause other safety concerns such as increased risk of speeding. Sure no one is saying drivers should be driving more than is safe for them, but there should be a way that the drivers can assess their levels of fatigue.
Final thoughts: maybe our biggest problem is that our government has such a need to tell drivers WHEN to sleep. If drivers could sleep whenever they were tired and not for a set forced 34 hours breaks…then maybe drivers wouldn’t ever be sleepy on the road. However, quite frankly, it seems almost unachievable to actually reach an 82-hour workweek anyway. My vote for an end to the on-going hour of service debate is to get real truckers to voice THEIR opinions.
What do YOU think?