Weighing in on the hours changes
Following Wendy Parker’s report from the road with her owner-operator husband 10 days into the new hours rule — the couple were $300 down due to lost loads as a result of the hours changes over that period — readers came back with some examples of their own. Following find some of the highlights from commentary following up her story.
Micky Martin: I’ve been a Teamsters union driver for 10 years. I have a steady 9 p.m. start time. Current schedule started July 9: I worked 6 straight days with Monday the 15th off and had 40 hours off before logging on for my next shift, and of course did not reset because I didn’t have 2 periods between 1 and 5 a.m. Under old hours of service I would have reset. My schedule does not give me a reset period until August 2 and 3. I’m already up against the wall of a force-off in the next day or so, looking at losing a day’s pay already, and this just started. They have virtually eliminated the possibility of any overtime days. This administration has got to stop sticking their nose into our wallets. I’m still trying to understand why the unions are supporting these guys.
Sit back, run easy, stop when it is convenient, not at the last minute, and behave like an hourly union driver would. In a few months, you will see the demand jump for trucks, but there will be none. The barriers to entry these days are just too high, and you will find yourselves in control. –Overdrive reader Dave Nichols
Jason Haggard: You cannot implement all-encompassing rules like this and expect everyone to still be able to remain profitable. As George and Wendy have found out, at even a $300 loss per week at only 45 weeks of running per year that’s a $13,500 loss, which for many is a year’s worth of truck payments, or approximately 28 tires or 3,500 gallons of fuel. Why should anyone be willing to just lay down and accept that? Would you be accepting it if someone just walked up to your bank and removed thousands of dollars from your bank account?
Jennifer Mathis: My husband has the same thoughts on long hauls vs. short hauls and will only consider [hauling legal]. And we then end up with the exact same concerns with scheduling and finding profitable runs. We are praying for the same results as well – that those grossly overpaid stuffed shirts wake up and realize what it takes to drive and maneuver in and around the conditions that truck drivers have to actually deal with.
Dave Nichols: Folks, stop and think of the reality of a shutdown or slowdown. There is only about three days of supply in the retail food chain, less in the fuel supply chain. Less yet in the movement of perishables. When the demand for transport service bumps against supply, rates will rise. If you don’t take advantage, it is because you are not paying attention. We drivers have worked these 70-hour-or-more weeks for decades. It is time to change that, and these rules will help us do it. Sit back, run easy, stop when it is convenient, not at the last minute, and behave like an hourly union driver would. In a few months, you will see the demand jump for trucks, but there will be none. The barriers to entry these days are just too high, and you will find yourselves in control.
Owner-operator posting as “Life with no fixed address”: I did not go into the new hours rules with an open mind, but we also play by the rules. So 15 days in and I am not happy. The 30-minute break is penalizing me for my routine of taking several short breaks because it is a countdown clock. It is not, as described, a 30-minute break after eight hours on-duty and/or driving. Like the driving clock, this eight-hour clock does not stop when I go off duty.
It is a 30-minute break from the minute I start my day, which is different. Now when I stop for 15 minutes, which takes at least 20 by the time I am safely off the road and parked, the clock is still ticking.
And to the trip planning comments, we have been stuck in traffic and gone six miles in 1.5 hours, which put us up against the break. In Canada, there are few truck stops, so most places to stop are dirt lots with no facilities, which makes this break difficult. As a team we have found it difficult to find a place in the middle of the night for a break.
With more drivers trying to do eight and nine hours a day, it is making for less movement in the truck stops…. It also penalizes us because we drive 58 mph. We use up more hours sooner driving slower, which is one reason we use the 34-hour restart. Because we are owner-operators and a team, and have other profit points than the rate per mile of the company driver, I won’t know the financial impact until the end of the month.
Via Overdrive‘s Facebook page:
Justin L. VanDerslice: There was mention of sitting at a shipper from 8:30 a.m. till 5:30 p.m. I realize this is a problem, but log it off-duty or sleeper and you’ve got a fresh day ahead of you. I’ve talked to quite a few people, and not too many are having problems with the new hours of service. That’s not to say that these rules are completely perfect or that they do anything at all for safety, but they’re not the burden everybody thought they would be.
[For a discussion of the gray legal area of logging off-duty at shippers and receivers and what moves FMCSA has made in recent weeks to make it at least less gray, and potentially in the favor of drivers experiencing a bevy of such situations, see this post on the Channel 19 blog.]
Greg Vellender: Learn to live off your recap. That’s what I’m doing. … I run Wisconsin to Florida weekly. [Without the break] I ran 3,200 miles in 5.5 days, then took a day and a half off for my restart at home. It worked perfectly. Now, I do the round, spend a few hours at home, go back out, then after the 168 hours are up do a restart. I live off my recap to get home, at which time I do my 34-hour restart. They stole precious home time as well as money out of my pocket.
Brooks Gregg: The break is adding 2.5 hours to my week that I’m forced to be at work. This stinks for the local drivers. I’m in and out of my rig 10-15 times a day.
Jason Cyr: Some weeks I’d be out eight days, the following week I’d be out four and home on the weekends. Can’t do that with the new hours. I’m running out of hours running U.S. and Canada.