Hours rule is putting me in the hole

| February 01, 2006

I’ve been driving over the road now for 12 years. I’m 42 years old and have developed arthritis in the lower quarter of my spine. I don’t have much trouble with it, if I can take a four- or five-hour break in the sleeper berth. My normal pattern includes unloading in the morning, reloading and around five hours of driving. After this, I usually take a break to lie down and relax my back. I get up after a four- to five-hour break, grab a bite to eat and drive another five or six hours before taking my required eight-hour break.

Under the new rules, as I understand, the eight-hour break is the only one that stops the 14-hour clock. This scenario already exceeds the 14-hour rule. What if I have to wait three or four hours to get loaded? This means, legally, I can only drive for six to seven hours a day.

Since I’m paid by the mile, I’m going to go in the hole after on-the-road expenses, taxes and bills at home. At this rate, I can’t afford to stay on the road. On the other hand, I don’t know how to do anything else. In reality the FMCSA is forcing me into poverty. I can’t qualify for welfare or disability.

Is the federal government prepared to pay for retraining in another occupation? I’m sure that I’m not the only one in this situation. The bottom line is, we either go broke or a greater number of drivers will have to falsify their logs in order to survive.
Howard D. Averett
Cottondale, Ala.

Losing Hours, Losing Revenue
I have been an owner-operator for over 25 years now.

I have found that with the new hours of service I am limited to what type of loads I can accept and accomplish. For me to stay legal, I have found that I need to do short runs that do not total more than 600 miles in any direction. Yes, I am a single driver, not a team. I can no longer do long hauls as I was able to do before the change. Bottom line is loss of income.

I cannot stress enough the importance of losing revenue, losing loads, losing hours that you can work for a living.

As an owner-operator for the past 25 years, I have not gotten a raise. Up to the new hours of service, I was making the same today as I did 25 years ago. The only difference is that the cost of living has grown, not my salary. In fact, since the new hours of service, I have lost 5-7 percent.

Many of my peers in the business have parked their truck, put a For Sale sign on it, and walked away, only to have to work for a local trucking company in the city where they reside. I am very close to having to do this.

With the extremely high cost of fuel these past few months, now the new hours of service, it is next to impossible to make ends meet.

I myself have a very small truck payment. Thank God for that, because at the cost of fuel being anywhere between $2.75 and $3.80 per gallon, average for my truck being over $3,500, it is very hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Forget health insurance, cannot afford it. Forget idling the truck. That too has been restricted.

I guess the bottom line is that Washington wants the over-the-road trucker gone forever. Maybe Washington can learn to drive big rigs and straight trucks and do the deliveries of freight. They would soon learn how the world of a trucker really runs.
Debra Wells
Rockford, Ill.

More Common Sense Needed
I read your report on the new HOS laws. It said 6 percent of wrecks were caused by fatigue or lack of sleep, so we say everyone must wear a red shirt because six out of 100 are stupid? It’s plain and simple – one size doesn’t fit all.

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