Driver Conditions Getting More Unbearable
Thanks for the informative write-up in Truckers News [“Opposing Suits?” February 2011]. I think you nailed it on the head with “paid by miles and regulated by hours.” I worked a 16-hour day because I was getting loaded, then drove 470 miles and ran out of time. That translates for me to $9.37 an hour. I should be better compensated for having to live in my truck and not be able to be at my home every night, but that’s not the case. I am not including the time I live in the truck in that in that $9.37 an hour calculation; if I did, I make about $3.00 an hour. Is there no compensation to me for the fact that I am living in this truck, and I am going where someone else is dictating that I go, with no bathrooms at most of the overnights at customers? If this industry is going to continue to treat us like dogs then what the hell do they expect us to act like other than dogs?
I am considering a janitor job in my hometown or maybe welfare — then I could get health care and be at home each night. Do you think I’ve got an original thought? No way. There are so many people out here thinking this way. Why are we out here dealing with this? Because we value working and not feeding off the system. That’s the only thing preventing me from doing it.
Ten dollars for a shower? Ten dollars to park? Food choices are things like Twinkies, doughnuts and frosted flakes. Do you shop like this for your family?
You wonder why we are fat and having health problems — the truckstops are where we shop for food, and this is our choice of food. If the government is so concerned about accidents, then why aren’t they looking at what we eat? There’s no place to exercise at truckstops, by and large. This industry has gotten horrid. It funnels us into poor diets with no exercise, no bathrooms and now heat strokes and frostbite, based on the California restrictions, which will no doubt run the gamut and become law in other states.
Someone needs to look into the fact that companies are running their drivers during the day shift and asking them to get 10 hours of sleep and then run all night. If I have slept during the night, wake at 8:00 a.m. and my dispatcher tells me I have to pick up a load at midnight and run all night with it and deliver it in the morning, I have to get back to sleep and double stack my sleep. I can’t do it, and by the time midnight rolls around I’ve been up for 16 hours with no sleep, run the load, and now I’ve been up for 30 hours straight with no sleep. By the time I’m unloaded it’s 34 hours. You wouldn’t believe how dangerous this is, but the dispatchers don’t care at all. It takes me three days to recoup from this abuse. And you cannot refuse the load.
FMCSA regs rep a political game
The old saying goes, “There are lies, damned lies and statistics.” The more I read about the Hours of Service recommendations, the more I realize the truth of this.
The proposed HOS rules have already been discounted in various media, by a number of drivers who have pointed out they aren’t based on reality. Other publications and sources have shown that the statistics used by FMCSA are basically flawed, that it has cherry picked its data.
This gets to the heart of why they’re doing this, and it has nothing to do with safety on the nation’s highways. If anyone gave a damn about safety, people convicted of DUIs would lose their licenses on the first bust, not after half a dozen. This is nothing more than a political move, pure and simple. It’s about the money, ours, and how much of it they can take from us.
As President Obama calls on the government to cut back on needless and complicated regulation, Ray LaHood thumbs his nose at the president and does the exact opposite. Maybe he’s looking for the next job or maybe he’s working toward a run for the Oval Office himself. Perhaps, like a number of other political appointees, he’s looking toward the day when he can become a “consultant” to our industry. (If memory serves, that’s what usually happens to the heads of the FMCSA: They leave office and become consultants.)
Regardless of what’s behind LaHood’s actions, they don’t serve us well and will create more trouble on the road.
We’re not helped by the actions of the American Trucking Association and their calls for governing all trucks. Someone, it seems, has forgotten what it’s like to drive.