Driver Conditions Getting More Unbearable
Thanks for the informative write-up in Truckers News [“Opposing Suits?” February 2011]. I think you nailed it on the head with “paid by miles and regulated by hours.” I worked a 16-hour day because I was getting loaded, then drove 470 miles and ran out of time. That translates for me to $9.37 an hour. I should be better compensated for having to live in my truck and not be able to be at my home every night, but that’s not the case. I am not including the time I live in the truck in that in that $9.37 an hour calculation; if I did, I make about $3.00 an hour. Is there no compensation to me for the fact that I am living in this truck, and I am going where someone else is dictating that I go, with no bathrooms at most of the overnights at customers? If this industry is going to continue to treat us like dogs then what the hell do they expect us to act like other than dogs?
I am considering a janitor job in my hometown or maybe welfare — then I could get health care and be at home each night. Do you think I’ve got an original thought? No way. There are so many people out here thinking this way. Why are we out here dealing with this? Because we value working and not feeding off the system. That’s the only thing preventing me from doing it.
Ten dollars for a shower? Ten dollars to park? Food choices are things like Twinkies, doughnuts and frosted flakes. Do you shop like this for your family?
You wonder why we are fat and having health problems — the truckstops are where we shop for food, and this is our choice of food. If the government is so concerned about accidents, then why aren’t they looking at what we eat? There’s no place to exercise at truckstops, by and large. This industry has gotten horrid. It funnels us into poor diets with no exercise, no bathrooms and now heat strokes and frostbite, based on the California restrictions, which will no doubt run the gamut and become law in other states.
Someone needs to look into the fact that companies are running their drivers during the day shift and asking them to get 10 hours of sleep and then run all night. If I have slept during the night, wake at 8:00 a.m. and my dispatcher tells me I have to pick up a load at midnight and run all night with it and deliver it in the morning, I have to get back to sleep and double stack my sleep. I can’t do it, and by the time midnight rolls around I’ve been up for 16 hours with no sleep, run the load, and now I’ve been up for 30 hours straight with no sleep. By the time I’m unloaded it’s 34 hours. You wouldn’t believe how dangerous this is, but the dispatchers don’t care at all. It takes me three days to recoup from this abuse. And you cannot refuse the load.
FMCSA regs rep a political game
The old saying goes, “There are lies, damned lies and statistics.” The more I read about the Hours of Service recommendations, the more I realize the truth of this.
The proposed HOS rules have already been discounted in various media, by a number of drivers who have pointed out they aren’t based on reality. Other publications and sources have shown that the statistics used by FMCSA are basically flawed, that it has cherry picked its data.
This gets to the heart of why they’re doing this, and it has nothing to do with safety on the nation’s highways. If anyone gave a damn about safety, people convicted of DUIs would lose their licenses on the first bust, not after half a dozen. This is nothing more than a political move, pure and simple. It’s about the money, ours, and how much of it they can take from us.
As President Obama calls on the government to cut back on needless and complicated regulation, Ray LaHood thumbs his nose at the president and does the exact opposite. Maybe he’s looking for the next job or maybe he’s working toward a run for the Oval Office himself. Perhaps, like a number of other political appointees, he’s looking toward the day when he can become a “consultant” to our industry. (If memory serves, that’s what usually happens to the heads of the FMCSA: They leave office and become consultants.)
Regardless of what’s behind LaHood’s actions, they don’t serve us well and will create more trouble on the road.
We’re not helped by the actions of the American Trucking Association and their calls for governing all trucks. Someone, it seems, has forgotten what it’s like to drive.
I have rarely had need to drive any faster than 65 mph, but the two occasions when I needed to, it was good to have that power. To my way of thinking, if you need to drive a governed truck to stay legal, you need to park it and turn in the keys. It’s called self-control, and if you don’t have it, you’ll do the rest of us a favor by getting off the road.
We don’t need more regulation. We need more common sense. Trucking schools can’t teach it. You learn it over time, by doing the job. There’s something to be said for apprenticeships and for better pay. There’s nothing to be said for the current state of regulation, which penalizes good work instead of irresponsibility.
As a driver, I’m not backing this. As a voter, I’m voting against anyone who backed this.
Jeff “Roadtoad” Nesmith
Citrus Heights, Calif.
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How do you think the turmoil in the Middle East will affect the trucking rebound?
“It’s a double-edged sword. I think it’s going to affect fuel prices, but, honestly, if you maintain your equipment, it could have a positive affect with fuel surcharges going up.”
— Daniel Baker, Monroeville, N.C., owner-operator leased to Landstar
“I pull military freight, so it’s helping me.”
— Fred Bryant, Gautier, Miss., driver for Northern Neck Transfer
“It’s not good for the trucking industry because it raises the price of fuel. It doesn’t help us at all.”
— Todd Anderson, Greensboro, N.C., driver for Steve’s Truck Service
“It’s going to substantially limit the amount companies can do as far as hiring. Owner-operators are going to suffer because that’s money out of their pocket, and carriers aren’t going to be able to offer them fuel surcharges.”
— Josh Card, Jacksonville, Fla., driver for Werner
Should it be legal for interstate truckers to carry a firearm in their vehicle for protection? Why or why not?
I wasn’t aware that it was illegal.
— Michael C.
Yes, I believe we should be able to — if you can pass the concealed weapons permit test and background check. It is getting really dangerous out here, and you never know what might pop up. The states can come up with some sort of sticker to put in window so they know there is a firearm aboard. Yes, it gives the criminal knowledge that we have a firearm. But maybe then they would think twice.
— Dawn F.
Yes, it should be legal, but with strict limitations and with a federal concealed carry permit.
— Brian F.
Yes, with appropriate training and background checks that most states already have or require for current carry permits. The training programs should be as uniform as possible, and the carry permit should be accepted by every state. Truckers would be permitted to carry according to their state laws, and they would only be able to apply for a permit in their state of residency.
— Randal B.
Yes, it should be legal. It’s legal to have a firearm for protection in our homes. Isn’t our truck our home? Don’t we have the right to defend said home?
— Mari C.
There’s no law that says you can’t. But it’s what your company says, and every state, county, city and town has different laws: Carry open, not carry open, move in a lock box, move sitting on your lap. They’re all different.
— Kevin S.
I think it should be legal. With so many drivers being killed they need to have some kind of protection. My husband had a good friend get murdered for $4 while he was doing paperwork before bed. If pilots can carry them 30K feet in the air, why can’t truckers carry them?
— Christie C.
Sure, why not? But what happens when a driver pulls the gun on a person that knocked on the door because that person needs help or something? I see it getting way out of control. I am all for the right to carry one, but some truckers out here can be more dangerous than others. Even road rage with a trucker having a gun — it won’t be good. And just because they can pass a background check doesn’t mean that person should carry a gun. And hell if a cop or DOT officer pulls you over even if you have a sticker do you think they will not be harsh toward you? I believe they will be even more so. It gives them even more reasons to pull us over. I guess I am a no on this after all. A taser gun may be better!
— Tammy S.
We are American citizens, and it is our right given to us by the 2nd Amendment to the constitution. We are not less of a citizen because we hold CDLs and drive a truck for a living. Any driver who can legally acquire a concealed weapon permit should be allowed to carry a firearm. Obtaining a CDL is a privilege granted us by the state in which we reside. A privilege, mind you, not a right. The Constitution gives each American Citizen the right to bear arms, yet we are not allowed.
— Heath D.
Yes, I believe we should, but after ALL qualified drivers take a concealed carry class and fully understand what happens when you pull the trigger. Too many individuals scream “My 2nd Amendment Right” without fully understanding the ramifications of their actions. Also, the federal government would have to make it a law, overriding state reciprocity laws.
— Anthony V.
Yes, but not much would change. Almost all drivers I know already carry. I would bet half of all truckers carry now.
— Robert C.
Yes. We have to go in a lot of unsafe areas. There is no way we can drive fast enough to get away from a setup.
As dangerous as it is getting, like in St Louis when the driver was killed, a resounding YES!