Dubious HOS science

| January 03, 2006

I am 64 years old, and here I am for the first time in my life writing a letter to the editor.

The cause of this is the October 2005 issue of Truckers News and two articles contained therein, “Reasons Behind the Rule” and “Eight on the Break,” both related to the same topic, hours of service.

“FMSCA says new hours regulations rely heavily on science.” Whose science? There’s clearly no medical basis. My doctor once told me that from what he could see, the Department of Transportation regulations have no foundation in medical knowledge.

The old HOS required eight hours off. My guess is that originally it was based on the idea drummed into our heads starting from when we were very small children that we needed eight hours of sleep. Then we had the change to 10 hours off when someone realized that by the time a driver pulled into a truckstop, ate, showered, etc., there was not going to be time for eight hours of sleep under the old rule.

Typical bureaucratic thinking. Don’t you just love being in an industry regulated by people who do not have the slightest conception of what goes on out here?

The FMCSA administrator was quoted about the health and fatigue experts, research institutions, 1,000 health-related articles and dozens of fatigue-related studies, 1,800 public comments that referenced an additional 200 studies.

I bet if you look over all these studies, you will not find a mention of what could be called the 800-pound gorilla in the closet. It’s a door they dare not open. It goes to the heart of the matter as expressed by driver Lester Nicholson of Centreville, Ala., who was quoted in one of the articles: “I am 59 and I have never slept eight straight hours in my life.”

The “eight hours of sleep” is a myth and has no medical basis. How much Lester sleeps every night was determined at conception. It is called genetics.

Don’t take my word for it, ask a doctor. I have, including doctors who have given me DOT physicals. The answer is always the same – how much you sleep every night is determined by genetics.

I am one of those who require less. For FMSCA to imply that every driver out there requires eight hours of sleep is a lie. Basing the HOS on a lie is even worse.

For the trucking industry and magazines such as yours to let them get away with it is a disservice to all drivers. You should try and rise above the Judith Miller mold.

For what it’s worth, I like the new rules. I also like your magazine as I find some interesting articles.
Charles Simoneau
Zimmerman, Minn.


Stand up to Coercion
I began riding in trucks in 1960 and began driving in 1968. I am unable to believe in 2005 that supposedly intelligent truck drivers would still commit their unwavering devotion to trucking company personnel who not only do not care one iota for the driver, as a person, but also preys upon the driver. By preying I mean coercing a driver to operate illegally (outside of the safety regulations). Most companies will push a driver into burning himself/herself out, burning out their driving records (and thus losing their driving privileges), or causing a death. Most companies regard drivers as “a dime a dozen.” It’s the truth.

Most drivers know that should they get caught operating illegally the company will disavow any knowledge of the drivers’ activities. Truck drivers need to realize they are the victims of predators and that they need to protect themselves from abuse. Who has the driver’s license? Certainly not the company. Let’s see those trucks operate themselves or watch that freight move itself.

If you have to operate illegally to work for a specific company, then you do not need to work for that company. Before anyone decides on rebuttal, I make as much, or more, money now as what I made running outlaw with less stress and aggravation. It works for me, and it has worked for years. And remember, the lower the paid wages, or rates, the more abusive the company.
Arthur E. Ford
Cleburne, Texas


Know What’s Important
It seems to me all you hear about is the lack of respect given drivers anymore. Since when do any of us need justification for a job well done? No respect from your boss? Find another company. Shippers and receivers? Get used to it. DOT? Look what’s in the truck next to you.

It is about time we as an industry wake up. I drive a truck to support my family. I do not look for anyone to respect me but my family. I used to be one of those drivers banging the drum looking to change the world. Then reality hit home. My wife was diagnosed with cancer. Now I realize what is really important in life – my loved ones. A bad day at work is just that – a bad day at work. I finally woke up. I could care less what you or anyone else thinks of me. I still am the first guy to stop and offer my help. I am a third-generation driver with 22 years experience. No, I do not know everything. Like all of you, I am not a four-walls person. Driving a truck is all I have ever wanted to do. I still love my job most of the time.

It is time all of us take a deep breath, slow down. Your lives are passing right before your eyes. Does your spouse and kids or parents know how much they mean to you? Have you told them today?

It is about time each of us became accountable for our actions. The CB radio has become an embarrassment to our industry. Just shut up and do your job. Then the respect you covet so much will follow. Act like the adult you claim to be. Life is short, start living it before it is too late.
Ken Foell
Scranton, Pa.

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