Letters From Readers


The new hours-of service-rule has been a godsend for me. Now I drive longer each day – allowing me to get an extra load, which I didn’t have enough hours to log before – and I can reset my 70 whenever I want to by taking a little time off when I bump my max hours.

As a local owner-operator, this could not have come at a more perfect time for me. The new rule has had a twofold advantage. First, it scared the large companies into raising freight rates (so I could raise mine). Second, it allows me to put in more hours each week. The only other thing they could have done for me would be to make my truck and trailer payments.

I know the new hours rule is going to cause some major problems for some solo drivers who have to wait to load and unload, but that is something they will have to offset with detention pay.

The shoe might be on the other foot if I were still running out on the road. It would most likely be a fight I would be willing to take to the end.

To the rulemakers, thanks for helping me. That’s something I thought I’d never say about changes made by the government to help me in my pursuit to make a living in this industry.

Hugh Johnson


In your article on stress, [December 2003] Tim Barton quotes an owner-operator who says, “We’re out here working for basically nothing, and that means we have got to run.”

I beg to differ – strongly! His comment begs for a pay cut. It’s like saying the less you pay me, the harder I’ll work.

If I’m not making enough, I’d rather go broke sitting in the living room.

The first week of the new hours of service was a struggle. By Wednesday I was two days behind schedule, and it didn’t get any better the rest of the week. Needless to say, the profits for the week went down the tubes and the stress levels went up. My remedy? Go home for a week and ignore the problem for a day or two. The stress lowers, and the thought processes begin flowing again.

When you haul for a company, they have serious fixed costs on your truck, and they need to keep it moving. If you haven’t been hauling the freight they’ve been offering, they’ll change what they’re offering because they must keep your truck moving. That’s why many of the greener drivers get what they call the “dispatcher from hell.”

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I’ve found that if you get a dispatcher that pushes, push back. They are just like children. If they test you once in a while, just put them back in their place firmly, but professionally. If you can’t afford to stand your ground, you can’t afford to be in business.

Kerry Balog
Glendale, Ariz.


The article about Stephen Shields [“Man of the hours,” February] refers to “the stricter regulations in which a trucker can work no more than 14 hours before taking 10 consecutive hours off.” This is incorrect. A commercial driver may work more than 14 hours, he just cannot drive after being on duty for 14 hours.

The article also cites a stop “for showers, fuel and a long lunch of salad and chicken. All this time will be logged as on-duty, per the new rule.” Not so. The lunch and shower is in fact off-duty and do not count towards Shields’ 70 hours, while the fuel is on-duty, not driving. All of the above, however, count toward the 14-hour day.

Douglas Dittus
Safety consultant, Scheiderer Transport, Plain City, Ohio


I have been a professional driver, both truck and bus, for 42 safe years. I’ve noticed a terrible decline in the quality of truck drivers. They have so many bad habits.

I still drive buses and trucks part-time, and I see many horrible examples, such as trucks going 75 mph that are 4 feet from a car’s back bumper. Where has the pride and professionalism gone?

Alan D. Wright
Boulder, Colo.