Rest in pieces

Keeping up with the hours-of-service squabbles is enough to make a person – well, tired. An alliance of four safety groups led by Public Citizen asked a federal court in February to review the revised rule that went into effect in October. Their beef is that the rule, like the 2004 one it replaced, increases the hours truckers can drive without a break and the number of hours they can drive per week. They also object to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s failure, once again, to mandate onboard recorders.

Back in January, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association also asked the court to review the rule. Where safety advocates want to tighten the rule, OOIDA wants to loosen the split sleeper berth portions so that the minimum two-hour rest period would stop the clock and team drivers could split rest as they did under the previous rule. Under the current rule, truckers – solo and team – who want to split their mandatory 10 hours of rest must log a minimum eight hours in the sleeper and must take at least two more hours off, and those hours don’t stop the clock.

In proof that politics makes strange bedfellows, the Truckload Carriers Association recently joined OOIDA, which regularly sues TCA’s members over lease-purchase contract disputes, in the court challenge. The Ohio and California trucking associations have also joined the fray. And then there’s the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which is party to both the Public Citizen and OOIDA challenges.

Feeling fatigued? You’re not alone. As often is the case, those most impacted by the rule are caught in the middle. All groups challenging the rule claim to have your health and well-being in mind, but even truckers who have been operating under the revised rule have mixed feelings about it.

Many team drivers, such as CFI’s Dora and Butch Colvin, have found it difficult to make the transition. “It kills my husband because he’s a napper,” Dora Colvin says. Then there are owner-operators such as Dan Beber, leased to Warren Transport. “I enjoy 34 hours off and restarting the clock,” he says.

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Let’s hope we can achieve a rule that is workable for all types of operations, satisfies the safety advocates and ends the political games. Maybe then we can all get a little rest.