George & Wendy Show

Wendy Parker

The real effect of the new hours rules

| August 04, 2013

Since the new hours of service went into effect, it’s become increasingly difficult to find a parking space in a truck stop after 7 p.m. Seven is the sweet spot for shut-down time if you’re driving days and have long miles to cover. You can start again at 5 a.m. and the eight-hour milk-and-cookie break falls right around lunchtime. We’ve been making short days of it, stopping around 5 p.m., so George’s 70 spreads out and we don’t end up with a 51-hour reset. It’s aggravating to have to restrict our time. We now travel in the heat of the day, with a million other people, and hit rush-hour traffic at about the time we start looking for a place to park at night. It’s inconvenient, it’s stupid and it’s in no way safer for anyone. God forbid you don’t make that 1 a.m. shut-down. Your entire schedule is shot if you don’t.

George is adapting, but he doesn’t like it, and it’s most definitely costing us money. He’s certainly not the happy trucker he has been in the past — no one really seems to be. The entire climate on the road has changed so much in the past year and a half, it’s not as fun as it was when I started riding, things are grittier and people are worried. It breaks my heart to watch the government destroy an industry in the name of “safety,” and it makes me mad that we allow them to do so. My Granddad always told me people will only treat you as ugly as you let them, and I feel like it’s time to stop letting Washington treat us ugly.

Tighty whitiesAnyway, speaking of ugly, I watched a grown man run around a truck stop parking lot in nothing but his tightie-whities the other night. (Honestly, I didn’t know how else to segue into what this post was originally supposed to be about, before I got all pissed off about Washington. I apologize for the confusion.)

As I mentioned before, the truck stops are pretty full at night. There’s a lot of circling, a constant parade of tired truckers, who are all thinking, “If I hadn’t had to take that stupid 30-minute break earlier today, I would have made it here before all the spaces were full.” Consequently, people are parking in more and more inappropriate places, and squeezing way too many trucks into lots. But we’re definitely safer. (This is sarcasm.)

We noticed a couple of guys taking the dreaded end spot, and it wasn’t only the end spot, it was the corner end spot, the one where some idiot inevitably tries to force a rig into the diagonal space in between the corner spots at 3 a.m., usually tearinf the front end off of something. George remarked something like, “Poor bastards, I’d park on the ramp before I’d park there”, and we went to bed.

Sure enough, 3 a.m. rolls around and we hear yelling and commotion outside the truck. I peek out the curtains and am met with the sight of a big, hairy white man in his panties, running after a truck that was dragging his front end away. George didn’t even get up. He grunted and rolled over, leaving me to consider the image of this angry man, charging around the parking lot with his bumps and squiggles hanging out. Suffice it to say, I did not sleep well.

The moral of this story is the people who make the rules of the road should have to witness a grown man running around in his underwear in the middle of the night before they go and make everyone try and park at the same time. That, and never take the end spot.

  • Andy

    I used to take them spots too, when I had a small trailer. But when u start pulling big or heavy that chance is gone. I have pulled some with 3 articulating points and they dont back into tight parking spaces without wearing on a clutch. I cant do the impossible? Just my thot…. The drivers interested in this forum are most likely all top notch at backing a rig even if its dark out and snowing.

  • Coffeeclue

    30 minute break is designed for company drivers who are otherwise pushed to the limit by their dispatchers. Maybe 15 minutes is enough for you, but it’s not enough for most people. When FMCSA makes rules, it can’t make a separate rule for everyone, so they felt it’s a fair number. Frankly, so do I.

  • SalenaLettera

    I’m assuming this is George (hey G!) not Wendy, since you’re talking about driving.

    We’re 78 feet long and Ed has no problem getting into spots that we see regular trucks (vans, reefers, etc.) passing by. They’re not big or wide – if they’re oversized, they’re likely shut down way before dark anyway, like we are when we run oversized – they just can’t get into the spots. And they are usually the ones blocking in others anyway, because they’re parked all wonky on the ends or in spots too small for their truck.

    And what do you mean by small trailer – 45 feet? How long is the trailer you pull now?

  • sugarshark

    baaa-baa, you sheep do what your told, they have their rules I have mine, they { the gov.} can kiss my rear end, been truckin 42 year my way, oh I know how to obey the rules, my way never had a problem. just be smarter than them, if they cant prove you did something wrong, then you did not do wrong!!!

  • Hellbent706

    Regulation is good in moderation but not in overkill. Out of an estimated 3000 rules only about 100 are necessary for safety. The rest are just revenue generators for the DOT and cronyism. If a driver is not gonna respect 100 rules, He will suffer the penalty. Adding 3000 rules are only necessary to penalize the ones who are able to comply with the first 100. Even the best drivers will break a rule if they make everything against the rules and disguise it in the name of safety.

  • Bob_Hearns

    I take several 10-15 minute breaks during my driving days. Now one has to be 30 minutes which takes another 15 minutes out of my 14 hour window. I’m not a night driver , so the two 1:00-5:00 am sleep periods doesn’t affect me, but I feel for the drivers who are. As far as safety goes, these rules are not adding to it, just as the closed 14 hour window from the past did not add to it. This is the inevitable outcome when uninformed people are making the rules. They don’t know that they don’t know.

  • localnet

    I have been home to Michigan from the ND oil fields, and have noticed allot of truck traffic on I-94 out by the Grass Lake scales. More traffic than I have seen in daylight hours in a few years. Makes sense now, the government is forcing these trucks to now run daylight hours. Also noticed the TA in Dexter loading up early, it was packed at 5pm on a Friday. I haven’t seen that in years, Fridays you could land a plane in that parking lot, not anymore.

    Not a good time to be in this racket. Hopefully the profession will survive, we shall see, but certainly not looking very good.

  • localnet

    Wendy, well stated. I am going on 24 years out here, done most everything out here, co. driver to small 5 truck specialty fleet owner, now in the ND/MT oil fields. All the planning in the world cannot makeup for the hazards of the road, as you so eloquently stated. And I agree, this occupation is no longer fun, much less mildly enjoyable.

  • kcbarl6

    I am the wife of a trucker, I have been in the truck, I have had kids in the truck. SHUT THEM DOWN, STOP DRIVING! I don’t get why this doesn’t get through? SHUT THEM DOWN! ALL THE TRUCKS, ALL THE INDEPENDENTS! JB Hunt won’t, Allen Lund won’t, Swift won’t. Stop pulling for them, shut it down.

  • BunniRabbyt Happily Retired

    I say it again Shutdown or Shutup Washington will never read this article and they dont care until you make some real noise I went thru 3 shutdowns in the 70’s and eighties it made enough difference that I was able to exist as an O/O. But this crap now NO WAY I see you have no choice. But OOIDA dont believe in shutdowns( and I dont know why that is how they got started in 73) but you need to look back at history and see how battles are won and not lost

  • Mind Games

    Jerry lives in a perfect truckers world we should all listen to him ( Yeaaaaa Riiiiiight) Jerry stop brown nosing you look silly with that brown crap on your nose.

    Nothing is perfect in this industry and never will be till we shut these rigs down and demand respect.
    The people who are making your life difficult in most cases are the ones that many of you work for and that’s the largest carriers NOT the tiny little guy.
    I have said this and will do so till the day I die, Quit those large carriers and the pain you feel will go away and yes I know you will lose your crumbs called benefits so what you are already losing your if not lost respect from the carriers because THEY are the ones who pushed for this law and any law that let’s them appear not to have anything to do with an accident that way you are on the hook for the civil suit.
    Listen your forefathers and mine laid in trenches body’s filled with pain and died to prevent you from being disrespected by these rich bastards and you might lose your crumbs????
    Get out of my country!!!
    When I learned a large carrier I worked for pushed for speed reduction of all trucks I went to a smaller company and have been happy ever since!!!
    Get out of my country!!! NOW!!!

  • Tom AndSheila Hurd

    The point is not whether drivers should take a break when they need to or not, the point is that we are all different in our fatigue factors and we are all being ruled by the same standard, also whether a man or woman need to take a break or not, to have someone tell you when, how, and how long to take a break and toss a fine at you if it wasn’t just what the doctor ordered is nothing short of a police state. SO if you want to express an either or world, police dictator state or every truck driver out there is going to be driving 20 hours a day on speed is the mentality of those who think we need a dictator regime in charge of the trucking world. The fact is!! that drug usage is up despite the Police State that has been imposed, so your argument doesn’t hold water. The reason drug usage by truck drivers is at an all time high is that drivers are turning to drugs to tolerate their jobs.

  • Wendy Parker

    There already ARE drivers out there on 19 hours and stimulants – they run paper and they run however they feel like running and the gubmint can make all the laws they want, it won’t stop it. Didn’t anyone learn a lesson from the ‘War on Drugs’? We’re a hundred and fifty billion dollars and forty years into that debacle, and drugs are more rampant than ever. You can’t make laws that effect people who never recognized them in the first place. The only people laws effect are law abiding citizens.

  • Wendy Parker

    The thirty minute change is an annoyance and not the main reason for my rancor. The fact that the FMCSA hasn’t got ONE SINGLE PERSON who even HOLDS A CDL and has the ability to make laws with no basis in fact or science arbitrarily is my main concern. As I said, we can adjust, but why should we have to? Every scrap of information I’ve gleaned clearly states the number of fatal crashes has fallen, not risen. It also tells us that 80% of those crashes are NOT the fault of the professional driver – why change things when the evidence states the old laws were working, and working well enough to reduce the number of fatalities? One word. Revenue. The gubmint looks at the trucking industry as their own personal piggy bank. And where is the money going? Surely not to the infrastructure, as anyone who has been on the Oklahoma Turnpike recently can attest to. I don’t like being told to do something ‘because I say so’, especially something that makes me change my daily schedule and lose money from our pockets, when there’s no good reasoning behind it. FMCSA will never stop the people who run illegal from running illegal with more laws. Laws are for people who recognize them in the first place.

  • Michaels Trucking

    Listen this is total Bullshit the gov has no business telling us how to run our business . I still run when I want I’m not changing the way I run My business just because they try and tell me to. It’s NOT there BUSINESS IT’S MINE and I run it MY WAY. IF you want me to run it your way then send me a check every day and pay me to run it your way other wise KEEP YOUR NOSE OUT OF MY BUSINESS .

  • Certifiably Nutty

    Too bad they don’t want help from people who are experts on the topic.Don’t you know, a college degree, no real world experience, and a pampered, ivory tower lifestyle makes THEM the experts. We are the know nothing occupants of fly-over country. Oh and don’t look them in the eyes, it makes them uncomfortable.

  • Jimmy the Greek

    To tell the truth , even running like i do last year i ran right at 40,000 miles and the gross was 168,000 after every thing i could wright off even the woman that cleans my house i still payed tax on around 77,000.

  • Jimmy the Greek

    But they still want me to play by there stupited rules .

  • Jimmy the Greek

    They can be made to shut down !

  • Jimmy the Greek

    Thats right ! Every thing gets riped up and out the window that can be used by the man . anything that needs to be keped i mail to myself from a truckstop .

  • mike szajna

    Amen to A shutdown !!!!! IM READY

  • Glen R Hughes

    If you shut down you could be put in prison for inciting panic. Now if everyone runs 100% legal for a about 2 weeks this might solve the problem and get the feds to listen. The feds can not put you in jail for following the law. When docks are blocked from the trucks that ran out of hours are blocking them for their 10 hour break, 34 hour reset or longer because they had to deliver during the 1am and 5am reset time. Product gets stuck in a truck a couple of blocks from the receiver because of the accident that shut down the road or construction traffic. Production lines get shut down, food shelves become empty ect.!
    Just my 2 cents.

  • LARRY C

    WE ALL WANT IT TO CHANGE AND MAYBE THESE RULE MAKERS SHOULD HAVE TO DRIVE FOR A YEAR OR TWO BEFOR THEY EVEN HAVE THE RIGHT TO MAKE RULES FOR THE TRUCKING INDUSTERY

  • Stargazer

    This industry is full of idiots that let big brother treat them like anything other than human beings..why not grow a pair truckers and put an end to all this nonsense that they are calling safety..why not band together and stop cowering down to the feds who want exactly that..never mind that nobody wants you on there property until you deliver your load and where ever you attempt to go and wait you are being hassled by bears threatening to give you a ticket the old “you can’t park here” rigmarole..where’s your pride trucker? why not stand firm for your rights instead of hiding your head in the sand and fighting with your fellowman..We are classified as unskilled laborers yet the ones making the rules haven’t a clue about being a trucker..how ironic..Enough said either stand firm or shut up..P.S before you cut me down and write me off as a dumbass..I’m a 34 and a half yrs trucker and a women to boot so bite me! I’m for you not against you..

  • POPAAD

    I am still waiting for someone to explain to me why a 34 hour break is enough rest time to reset your HOS after you have worked close to 70 hours, but is NOT enough rest to reset your HOS if you have only worked about 35 hours since your last 34 hour reset. All in the name of safety? I don’t think so.

  • RoadWitch

    Which is why FMCSA has no business making such arbitrary rules

  • Laure Simpson

    If I had to choose only one source to go to for info on our industry it would be Wendy Parker. She cuts to the bone of the issue concisely. Makes us squirm with an uncomfortable smile.

  • RoadWitch

    Many states have closed rest areas to save the state money, don’t really understand how much money they save from not having to clean & empty trash at an already built rest area, while they increase costs of operating a truck in their state. So, let’s force drivers to “rest” more while closing places to do so. Now the truck stops are putting in paid parking – up to $15! for the privilege of using their parking lot after you’ve dropped $800 on their fuel and $30 on their overpriced garbage food. A complete shutdown of the industry would get their attention (probably be arrested for terrorism) but the big ones would keep rolling and it would only harm o/o’s while Swift, England, Prime, etc would be in “the drivers’ seat” in further controlling the rules FMCSA continues to put thru on their behalf. Next it will be qualcomm & electronic logs mandatory for all if the big carriers have their way, which they do.

  • Laure Simpson

    Good Lord! What “real” word do you live in??? We are dependent on the foibles of shippers, receivers, State and Government process quite often, to move these loads!! I haul explosives where all of these entities come to play. What needs to be addressed is the level of training required to be a professional driver, then let the PROFESSIONALS make the decisions. But nooooo……..that would cost the COMPANY FLEETS more money! Who has the lobbying power in D.C.??? Who hires consultants????? Like whores taking candy…….

  • Nana

    Thank God I retired when I did!

  • Nana

    Then the companies will fire you or give you a service violation and tell you that you will be fired next time. Once again, bureaucrats think they know better than people who do the work.

  • Nana

    Sort of reminds you of slavery or totalitarian governments, doesn’t it?

  • Nana

    There is much truth to what you say but another side, too. I ran long haul for 10 years with a perfect safety record and never performed in an unsafe manner, retired in 2003. But my log book was a work of fiction. It was IMPOSSIBLE to run legal. Up at 5 for a 6AM delivery taking 3 hours, wait an hour, run an hour, sit on the dock for a 9-hour load, then run all night for a 6AM delivery. Do it or get fired. Shippers and receivers kept us waiting, awake, for 6 to 20 hours (often because of union rules enabling them to sit idle most of the day and work 10 minutes out of every hour), and then we had to run all night after being up all day. The big problem is at the shippers and receivers, but the companies don’t demand different behavior. If you won’t ship our stuff, somebody else will, no matter how long we keep your drivers at the dock. There is more than one problem involved. Bureaucrats need to look at shippers and receivers. Also, don’t assume truck stops are right where you need them or that you can sleep 8 hours whenever the opportunity arises. We are humans, not robots. I can’t get up at 5 AM and then sleep 8 hours at 11AM.

  • Nana

    Be sure you aren’t voting for people who love to control others. We need smaller government that is less involved in our lives, fewer laws. That isn’t the way we are going now. In Detroit there are 24 pages of regs to open a business. No wonder everybody who could fled.

  • Nana

    I ran 10 years with a loose-leaf log book on a clip board. There is no reg that says it has to be stapled. Works. Just run safe.

  • Nana

    Yes, they do. Good organization!

  • Nana

    Amen, Sister, Amen! That is exactly the problem. Shippers and receivers are the biggest problem in that group. The govt is always putting new rules on US DRIVERS to fix the problems the shippers and receivers cause in the first place.

  • Nana

    Sounds 100% true. I’ve waited in a dock parking lot 3 days for an unload. I’ve waited more than 24 hours to get my trailer loaded. I’ve driven to 3 different docks before they decided where to load. The shippers and receivers are the cause of the problems.

  • Nana

    Here is the real problem. Ignorant Bureaucrats who’ve never done this job making the rules for us “stupid drivers” who can’t possibly have brains and decades of experience to know more than they do about reality.

  • SalenaLettera

    Let me pose a question to everyone: Would you be happier with the HOS if you were getting paid more money?

  • kw6238b

    OOIDA? That’s funny. They’ve never stopped a single regulation, never got anybody higher rates, and they can do nothing for the company driver. They can get you a discount on tires, a nice T-shirt. OOIDA is basically a AAA motor club for truckers. It’s been somewhat effective hiring lawyers to go after bad companies, but it can’t change things structurally, and doesn’t intend to. Look, they get face time with the bog shots. They sit down and say ‘The drivers think like this’ and the big shots say ‘OK, what are the drivers going to do about it?’ and OOIDA says ‘Nothing’ and the big shots say ‘OK, see you later.’ The only way to change things structurally is by the exercise of power. That’s what the ones in control have, and if they have no reason to give you anything they won’t.

  • Coffeeclue

    The difference between drug enforcement and trucking regs is that the drug user does not have an 80K lbs piece of equipment that goes 70 mph. Drug user will hurt himself, not others on the freeway. Yes, there will always be law breakers, but the regulations give police the power to stop them, so they will think twice before running the 19 hours. Honestly, I’m not sure what we’re arguing about here. Do you think we shouldn’t have regulations at all? How about airline pilots? Should they have regulations?

  • rcdwltd

    Yup, damn regulators should have to drive a rig and put up with their own rules!

  • rcdwltd

    Shut’em down! Time for a trucker strike!

  • Randy Ciamacco

    I’Ve been saying this for years! No one has the balls to shut down though, that’s the problem! We got some action when we shut down in the 90’s for 3 days now didn’t we? This is what it will take for these dumb asses to hear us! Let’s do it!!!!

  • Jon McLaughlin

    I have been a driver since 1976 and have seen way too many changes, most of which have in the last 5 years. Want more changes, in 16, vote for Osama Obama’s Socialist Party again.

    The 30 minute break has been in place for years. Now they have re-defined it and are making it mandatory that it happen before the 8 hours are complete. AND are enforcing it. It is such a minor rule and seems to be the biggest fuss of the rule changes. I agree with Wendy that most of us were already taking it, or taking 2 fifteen minute breaks already. Put the 2 quickies together.

    There are bigger fish to kill. The mandatory 2 periods between 1 and 5 am is killing our wallets. I talked with a driver whose company had been running 4 days on and 2 off. That was just changed to 5 and 3. The drivers are already losing money.

    In reference to what another driver said about UNIONIZING: FORGET THAT!!!!! I remember the Teamster strike in 74 or 75. I took 30 days leave, from the Navy, and literally rode shotgun with my stepfather so he could drive home to RI from FL without being killed. Even with our trailer doors clamped open and our trailer empty, we experienced several drive-by shots at us.

  • Jon McLaughlin

    The break must be taken “before” you have 8 hours of driving in.

    If you take the break AT 8 hours, you must stop driving for the rest of the 11 hours or you are in violation and the DOT officers if they catch it will shut you down for a 10 hour break and also write a ticket

  • Wendy Parker

    I think that’s entirely the point, for us, at least. If they would let him run like he knows he can run, we WOULD be making more money. It’s averaging out to about 200-300 a week he’s losing, because when he’s running on re-caps, he’s not offered the longer and better paying loads.He inevitably gets stuck dragging around 200 mile days until he gets his hours back or shuts down. That’s a waste of time and fuel. George is a runner. If he’s got hours and is out there, he’s running. That’s how he does it and it worked fine for him, because he got a reset in about every five days and ran some more. I realize this isn’t how everyone runs. He had over 130k miles last year, I saw someone say they had 40k up in the comments. He wouldn’t do it for 40k miles a year. His philosophy is, if he has to be away from his home and family, he’s going to squeeze every last dime out of it he can. Of course more money would make it better, but it still wouldn’t make sense. And I still wouldn’t like the fact that the government can arbitrarily make laws about safety that are not based in scientific fact and data. For Christ’s sake, we have the best technology and scientists in the world at our disposal, why can’t the government present COMPLETE and CORRECT data? Because they don’t have to. Who’s going to make them? I found, (me, a stupid, big mouthed nurse from farm town Ohio) three different studies done by three different universities that directly contradict the ‘data’ they keep referring to. And I can produce my contradicting data, I’ve yet to see any of theirs, and I’ve destroyed my eyes and mind reading court rulings and ridiculously worded laws for days now. Not one scrap of actual data is public. They make vague referrals to the circadian rhythm, fatalities in regards to fatigue, and driver error, but no solid numbers are produced. The changes in the HOS have really been a catalyst for me. It’s frightening just how much control the government has over us, and I feel like these changes in the name of ‘safety’ are a very ominous foreshadowing of a police state. Even an idiot like me can see this has nothing to do with safety, and all the money in the world wouldn’t make it right. I don’t like it, it makes me nervous, and it reinforces the distrust I have for the government in the first place. I definitely DO NOT feel safer.

  • Wendy Parker

    You just contradicted yourself. You were the one who said there would be drivers out there using drugs, not me. I’m telling you there already ARE drivers out there using drugs, and no amount of law making is going to stop them. So there is no difference. The fact remains that all the laws in the world don’t have a damn thing in the world to do with people who don’t recognize them in the first place. And of course there needs to be regulation, but it shouldn’t be arbitrary and based on opinion, it should be based in scientific fact and data and should not be swayed by the tide of whatever lobbyist has the most money. It needs to make sense, it needs to be based in reality, and it needs the input of people who ACTUALLY DO THE JOB.

  • Bill Landsborough

    OOIDA is not perfect but they truely fight for the truck driver. And they are staffed with former truck drivers just like you and me. Truck drivers don’t accomplish many organized things mainly because we took this job to stay away from the crowds. Without organization such as OOIDA, we are just a bunch of disgruntle drivers airing our grievences to each other. Join!

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