Reaction Mixed on New Rule

| April 07, 2005

National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Ellen Engleman praised the new rule, calling it “an important step toward addressing fatigue on our nation’s highways.

“It’s a good idea. The extra driving hour is going to hurt single drivers, though. Most of those new boys won’t be able to do it. It won’t hurt teams, though. That extra two hours will help new drivers with wind-down time. They won’t have to run around cramming food in their mouths, taking showers, doing laundry and only getting three hours of sleep.”

Kevin Richardson
Princeton, W.Va.
BCJ trucking
Nine years OTR

“The biggest step forward I see is the requirement for 10 hours of consecutive off-duty time, allowing the driver the opportunity to get at least eight hours of sleep – probably the most important factor in preventing fatigue,” Engleman says.

J.B. Hunt driver Romar Smith of Birmingham, Ala., also endorsed the 10-hour break. “I think it will be very good – less fatalities and less fatigue,” he says.

Mike Pogue of Manchester, Tenn., a company driver with Mesilla Valley Transportation, says the extra hour of driving time each shift is a positive change. “It sounds good to me,” he says. “I can live with it.”

But not all drivers think the changes are a good idea. “They don’t really help us time-wise,” says BCJ team driver Alex Thompson, of Mount Airy, N.C. “I understand that they’re trying to give us more sleep, but it doesn’t help us with the money.”

Michael McRay, a driver with Cannon Express, also says the changes won’t help much. “You get one hour, then you give two,” he says, referring to the two extra hours of mandatory rest. “What good is that?”

Gordon Doncic, an owner-operator leased to FedEx Custom Critical, says he still has to make up his mind whether the new rule will be helpful. “It’s not going to make any difference for a team, but for a single guy, that extra hour could be very valuable,” Doncic says. “You get that extra hour, but you have to sit longer, and that’s not good. You know what – I’ll really have to sit and think about this to see if there’s any value.”

Drivers’ Opinions

No real difference

“It won’t make much difference for most drivers. As long as they do the 34 hours, I don’t have a problem with it. I don’t understand the 10 consecutive hours. Now, everything is modern. When the rules were originally done, we didn’t have air conditioning, air ride, cruise control. I think they’re just finding a way to mess with us. They need to change the problems they’ve already got, like how they’re teaching new drivers.”

Andy Ferrara
Canton, Mich.
Company driver
for Whiteline Express
26 years driving:
16 open road, 10 local

“It’s OK with me. Once I’m done driving my 11 hours, I’ll be ready to stop anyway.”

Freddie Lee Williams
York, Ala.
Co-driver for Robbie D. Wood

New trucks, old rules

“The only thing we gain is one hour. I don’t like it. When they made log books, we were
driving B-51 Macks, and we needed hours off. But now we have newer, more modern trucks, and we’re still using 1960s rules. All they have to do is make the freight rates where I can afford to rest this much, and hours rules will make more sense.”

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