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Changes to trucking regulations frustrate drivers

Filed by KOSU News in Feature.
November 14, 2012
 

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Earlier in the series: the issues on the table across all industries, and what it takes to get an unconventional business off the ground.

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Mentioning regulation often sends the mind to thoughts of government blocking business. In the case of the trucking industry, that would require actually throwing up roadblocks. Not exactly the case here. But as we’ve outlined all week, government regulations do have an impact, both good and bad, on the industry…

Ike Glass has driven trucks all his life, tagging along with his dad as a teen. Now, he’s far past his teens, but still runs and manages his company based in Newkirk, about an hour due north of Stillwater. With 78 full time employees in constant motion, keeping all the pieces in the puzzle moving is hard enough. Then, there’s the government.

“From the time our guys start a truck up, they’re regulated, from there on.

In his noisy office, Ike pointed to a couple forms that become a driver’s companion for the ride.

“Here’s a daily log which the drivers have to keep on a 24 hour basis, every stop they make, and that’s a regulation. Here is a vehicle inspection report.”

For Ike, the problem isn’t necessarily the log – it’s a good way to keep track of everything, and once they go electronic, things will get easier. But when a guy calls it a night and forgets to fill it out completely, sometimes this happens:

“Log book not current, last entry was at 8:30 PM. And this is at 8:30 AM, the next morning.”

“He wasn’t on top of the ball game. or he should’ve been that day. I want you look here, that’s all we got in here. Now this is just for this year, see. We haven’t been going very long. You can see there, that’s how those are, for every state.”

But how does this impact the cost of doing business? That’s difficult to say. There’s the built in cost of the paperwork – printing it, putting it in the system, and getting it checked by the Department of Transportation. But tangible added costs? Depends on who you ask. There is one issue that constantly came up though.

“The new hours of service regulations make it necessary for a driver, after he’s driven his 10 or 11 hours, he must stop that truck, no matter where he is. Now it doesn’t make any sense at all, does it? But he’s supposed to stop that truck, and get his 10 hour break.

“I might throw in here a comment that they don’t even make people in jail stay in bed 10 hours.”

Those come from the US Department of Transportation. The regulations just went into effect earlier this year. The Department says they’re trying to keep drivers safe by giving them enough time to rest. Ike says ten hours of required rest makes his drivers a little less efficient.

“If he’s sitting beside the road because he’s forced to stop due to a regulation, he’s not making any money.”

All of this presents a problem, according to Ike. The number of trucking firms escaping regulation is dwindling, as the feds have made an effort to get them following the law. There aren’t the numbers to back his claim up yet, but Ike says it’s all making a difference.

“It’s kinda hard to go to Washington and refute some of the regulations when the fatality rate is going down.”

I asked him if he thought it was because of regulation.

“Yes, yes. People are being regulated now that never paid attention before to it.”

So to Ike, regulations aren’t a terrible thing. But he does wish there was more leeway. One of his drivers blew out a tire on the highway, and continued driving to get to a safe spot and get help. That got the attention of the Highway Patrol.

“But they could be flexible. We find them being flexible, there are some that aren’t. Like the guy that got the guy with the tire, he wasn’t flexible. But we have that happen all the time and nobody writes us up for it. They know you gotta get some place before you can change a tire. You can’t just stop out there.”

The regulations will always exist, and in many cases, Ike admits to a point, they help keep drivers safe. But he wishes his drivers could have a little more freedom, and weren’t expected to be exactly perfect, all the time.

6 Responses to “Changes to trucking regulations frustrate drivers”

  1. @ECTTS says:

    I put something on my post about this article and have linked it back here. I agree the benefits of regulation are nice but those changes are not pain free

    -autohauler
    http://autohauling.blogspot.com/2012/11/regulatio

  2. david carter says:

    theGov. doesnt have to keep my safeif u dont have enough brains to do it my self i should not be driving. we have lost our freedom an alot of money. the rates are the same as they was 10 yrs ago an with all this crap we are not making any more money. There is always someone in the Gov. trying to tell others how it should be an they have NEVER driven a truck an been gone from home many weeks an not see their familys. ALSO JUST GOING TO A TRUCK DRIVEING SCHOOL TO LEARN DOES NOT MAKE YOU A TRUCK DRIVER.!!!!! You have to spend time on the road snowed in at a truck stop no food an not home for xmas. An do that for about 10 yrs mite get you neasr to being a truck driver. THE GOV. SHOULD MIND THIER OWN AN LEAVE THE DRIVING TO US. We get payed by the mile not the hr!!!!!

  3. Allen Smith says:

    The fatality totals were already reduced PRIOR to the surge of increased regulations. The only regulations that has been overlooked is the much needed CDL training regulation. Why is that? hmmmm

  4. Herv says:

    It is a catch 22. Just like some of the gun laws, the people who abide by the laws the most are affected the most on a daily basis. However, in time those who are reckless will cause themselves a lot of pain and suffering once they are caught. (points on their CDL, black balled by the industry, etc)

    However, comparing a driver to a prisoner being forced to sleep a certain amount of time is apple to oranges. A prisoner not sleeping has no affect on the public. A sleepy trucking on the highway is.

    That being said, most drivers are proactive and try to do what is right and safe. It only takes a few to create the illusion that the majority of the incidents on the road is from the group of which they belong. This is especially true since media likes to headline accidents that involve big trucks.

    I also have noticed another trend. An accident can be between a pick up truck and a car and the head line will only say "Trucker slams into the back of a car ……..blah……..blah" Once you read the article you find out the trucker was a pick up, tow truck, or straight truck driver.

    So with all of the safety campaigns and misinformed public who assumes that we truckers cause most of the highway problems the government feels they must make a showing to act. (There was room for things to be done, but good grief, lol.) However, don't get it twisted, the government has every right to try and do something. We just want to see it done fairly and in a way that gets to the root of the problems. We don't want to feel like marked targets.

    While many of the new rules are, in my opinion, good. Rules are similar to a loaded gun in that it can be used for good. It can be used with the end result in mind and even tweaked for better results for actually performance (equal to a gun being used for protection).

    Or it can be abused, misused, mishandled, misinterpreted or even maliciously obeyed (equal to a gun being used for murder).

    Obviously though, change is not welcome by many. For most people I think the older you are the less tolerable you are to change. Even when the change is good. Change is not easy to accept especially when it hurts in the wallet. Especially when more effective things could be done and more impactful parts of the problem remains unchanged.

    One of the main things that actually SHOULD be changed is the amount of time that many drivers end up spending at the dock wasting time. If someone could do something about that (Either compensating the driver or eliminating the wasted time or credit us to driver for it) many of the other violations and risks would disappear.

    Often this wasted time is what drivers are take the chances to make up for.
    With fair compensation and fair treatment many drivers would not dare risk their CDL or safety of themselves or others to push the envelop.

    I was fortunate enough to be with a good company which hauled product that never hardly put us in that situation. (Furniture)

    Many drivers simply have to deal with it. It is stressful for them and puts them in a terrible predicament. Their decisions are based on what they need their paychecks to be. That's sad.

    That being said, trucking is great career for the right person despite all that is wrong with it. You just have to do what you can to correct the wrongs.

    Most of all have a positive attitude and keep your record as clean as possible so that you can drive for a company that will treat you right. Interested in positive industry change? Read more of my opinions and suggestions here http://www.lifeasatrucker.com/trucking-industry-c

  5. Bill Engelbert says:

    The new rules suck!!! Flustraiting me can't do a overnight 700mile run. Just barely
    get 550miles in b4 I have to take a 10hr brk. Some days you could drive 12-14 hrs
    and others you just need a nap in the middle of rush hour traffic time. I miss taking
    my naps during rush hours. They would eat up my 14. The normal time to be at
    delv is 6-8am.

  6. Nanette says:

    The Regulations make it hard to make a living on the road if they want to regulate the driver down to the second them they need to regulate the way they are Paid. We loose a lot of time available to work and not being Paid for your time. when you leave your home and family you need to be paid for that time because you are not always going to get miles when the Regulations leaves you sitting at a truck stop in timbuck two. I left driving because of my Pay just got tobe less and less.

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